I am an avid networker; I truly believe that it is vital to the
success of my business. I meet a lot of people and I promote networking opportunities often. While speaking with folks about
an upcoming event I hear (all too often) "there’s nobody there for me
so there is no value in attending." As a matter of fact I have heard
many explanations (yes, I ask), chief among them:
- I don’t get results
- My time is limited; I have to spend it wisely
- Attending events like this make me uncomfortable
I am sure these folks have given some thought to what they are doing.
They seem to be insightful and of course they are entitled to their
opinion. But despite their consideration, I find their point of view to
be short-sighted, counter-productive and in some cases blatantly
deleterious to their efforts.
There are many ways to market business and to attract clients. The
power of networking lies in the ability of business people to develop
relationships, share ideas, and broaden their knowledge and to sow and
harvest new opportunities. Consider the sort of responses I have heard.
I don’t get results:
When I hear this, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s
really a matter of what you are looking for. As I see it, people network
from one of three orientations- 1) social, 2) selling and 3)
relationships. Those who take the first approach are rarely
disappointed. If you can hold a decent conversation you can probably
satisfy the desire to be social. Sellers have a bigger challenge-
particularly when they expect an immediate sale or a hot lead to fall
into their lap! The fact is, most of us don’t like to be SOLD TO. You
might get lucky, meet the right person at the right time and bingo. But
if selling is really all you’re after, I have to agree, don’t waste your
If you approach networking from the relationship orientation, things
are likely to be a lot more productive. Getting to know people is about
cultivating possibility; possibility will blossom sooner or
later, perhaps it will emerge in the form of a third party. But one
thing for sure- you will get results.
My time is limited; I have to spend it wisely:
I can’t argue with the need to spend our time wisely. Everyone is
busy, some of us pathologically so. Here’s the deal- networking is not
the cure for all that ails us and every networking event is not created
equal. If your time is limited, spend it wisely but I suggest you
don’t write off networking all together. Networking is a powerful tool
that can help us to build sustainable relationships; these relationships
in turn can lead to possibility. If you have only a limited amount of
time, why not spend some of it creating even more possibilities?
Attending events like this makes me uncomfortable:
What can I say? For many of us, networking events are as enjoyable as
getting a root canal. There are a variety of remedies that deal with
the physiologic aspects of social anxiety though most of us don’t
require that sort of help. If you consider the benefits of networking,
how it can be the difference between a successful business and a
business failure, it may be all the motivation you need.
The best way to deal with it is a personal matter but a few ideas to
sooth the jitters- attend events with a more comfortable colleague (one
who easily engages people and who knows the venue); set realistic
The most valuable advice I can think of is to take the pressure off of
you; the best of all conversationalists is the person who listens well.
Go out there and make it happen. There really is someone out there for you. Go find them- your business will thank you.