One of the reasons networking is the new business activity most people prefer is because it does not feel salesy. You meet people, get to know what they do and then - over time and when you've built trust - set meetings and share contacts.
Unfortunately one problem lies in its very attraction - that it can become too much of a socialising activity, especially for those who are already uncomfortable with selling. All too easily networking can become an activity to avoid doing any real business.
On the flip side is the networker who is all about business and doesn't really enjoy the social side. They have overly high expectations of results from networking, especially in terms of the time-scales, and when results don't appear they blame the network.
As with most things, the effectiveness of networking is within our control. How you behave will determine the result. So, what type of networker are you?
• You attend most of the meetings but if something comes up you're not too fussed
• If someone wants to speak to you while at the event that's fine, but you don't contact people in advance and arrange to connect at an upcoming meeting
• If there's a guest speaker or a presentation from one of the other members you might skip it and just join for the drinks afterwards
• You take people's business cards but don't follow up with them
• If someone helps you out you thank them at the meeting, but you don't spend time in advance thinking about how you can help people in your network
• Your networking meetings are blocked out in the diary and you don't schedule anything else for that time
• You find and bring relevant colleagues, contacts, and peers along to find out if the networking group is for them and make introductions to existing members
• Before going to a networking meeting you know your 30-sec pitch and can point to testimonials and referrals you have given and received from the group
• You research other attendees in advance and make it a goal to connect with at least 1 or 2 at each meeting to introduce yourself and find out more about what they do
• You work hard at making introductions and nurturing them both during and after the meeting
• You belong to more than one networking group
• You track your time and results from networking i.e. You can say what business you closed that results from your networking activity
Whether you like selling, or prefer socialising, the goal of networking is to build up a network of trusted contacts for new business. You cannot control whether or not someone needs your services or product but you can absolutely control whether or not you are someone that people want to do business with.