A search on Amazon for “business networking” produces nearly 10,000 results. So many gurus claim to have “the answers” to networking. And there are plenty of nutty suggestions promoted by some of these professed experts.
One such suggestion is: “Network as much as you can! Get off the couch and fill your calendar with as many events (especially free ones) as you can squeeze in. You’ll meet lots of people, collect scores of business cards, and appear to be very busy.”
That’s a great definition for “nutty networkers”. They resemble squirrels gathering nuts for the coming winter. Darting here and there, the squirrel appears to be quite busy. And he truly is, as he finds each nut and buries it. Some say the rodent barely remembers where he buried most of the nuts he gathers.
For the squirrely networker, there is little or no thought about the purpose or the goal to be achieved for all the time, expense and work involved. It’s simply attending event after event with no strategy in mind.
Creating a written plan for your networking activity is powerful and will promptly stop the “nutty networker” behavior. If it would help to have a copy of a Network Plan template, send me an e-mail, (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the words “Network Plan” in the subject line. It’s free for the asking.
If you simply fill your calendar with networking events and don’t consider the Who/What/When/Where/Why, you are imitating that squirrel. If it’s friends that you need, there are easier, less expensive and time-consuming, and faster ways to find friends!
When I’ve worked through the 5 “W” questions with some of my clients, they’ve realized that they are not networking with the best groups to help their business grow, or they are not planning for the best ROI (Return On Investment) on their investment of time, money, energy and focus.
Finally, Nutty Networkers jump from group to group. That’s certainly a way to be very busy, but hardly the way to build and maintain solid relationships. After all, it’s NetWORK not NetBUSY!
Advice from the Networking Coach: Be selective. Know your “why” for choosing a particular event. Some of the possible answers to “why’s” to attend a Networking event:
- It’s important to “show up”! Visibilityis part of being a good member.
- Consistencyis a critical ingredient for building connections.
- Be dependable. The way you show up says a lot about how you do business.
- You care!Your presence and mindfulness show the other members of your group that you care about them and about your business.
- Relationship-building requires that you are serious and genuine!
Be serious and mindful about your networking activities and enjoy the rewards of your efforts.