Effective Networking Takes Time, Effort
In the GLD Communications methodology, Marketing is broken into three areas: Advertising, Networking and Public Relations. Of these three, the one that costs the least but takes the most time is Networking. It’s also the area with which most people have the least success or experience, usually because they lack the skills and objectives needed to make it work for them.
When people think of ‘business networking,’ they usually call up an image in their mind of a stuffy business party filled with uninteresting and uninterested people scurrying from person to person collecting business cards from potential customers. Sadly, this is not only wrong, it’s downright pointless. Networking is about farming, not hunting. Your goal should be to connect with people who share a mutually beneficial purpose for being there.
Done properly, networking is the act of building relationships – you’re not supposed to be trying to sell to the people you meet. Your real goal should be to get to know that individual and help them to know you so that you can develop a long-running business relationship which will, eventually, become a mutually beneficial referral source. ONE well-cultivated connection can lead to thousands in sales over time.
All of your networking efforts should take time. Most experts, including GLD Communications consultants, suggest that successful networkers spend between 6 and 8 hours a week maintaining or growing their business relationships. Those who excel focus on the needs of the other person, in what BNI founder, Dr. Ivan Misner calls, “Givers Gain.” This simple concept is based on the idea that if you approach your network as a resource for them, they will return the effort. Everyone wins, and long-term, mutually beneficial associations are formed, the results of which far exceed those of basic advertising.
But effective networking is not for the lazy. To be fruitful for both sides, it takes time, effort and commitment. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions.
- CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EVENTS / AFTER HOURS
- DEDICATED BUSINESS REFERRAL GROUPS LIKE BNI
- TRADESHOW EVENTS – INTERACTIVE DISPLAY AND DON’T STAND BEHIND THE TABLE!
- COMPETITORS & COMPLIMENTARY BUSINESSES
- Don’t use your mailing list to spam or send out unwanted material. You’ll just end up being muted by the very people with whom you’re trying to build relationships.
- Don’t use service clubs as hunting grounds. Groups like Rotary and Lions Club are there to serve the community in some charitable capacity and any business that comes from your association with the membership should be little more than a by-product. Your main purpose for joining such groups should be to support the charity.