Social Networking for Business Doesn’t Work: Have a Plan, Dont Work the Room, Be Selective, Focus on Few, Follow-Up…

Networking Doesn’t Work: Working the virtual and physical room– shaking dozens of hands, having endless small-chat conversations, collecting hundreds of business cards… Forget it: It’s not the silver bullet, re-think your networking.

Most people don’t have a real network… most people don’t know how to network… most people don’t follow up… most people think growing their network list is networking. Most are on the hunt to get more business cards, collect more LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends… accumulate all that data… and for Zilch?

According to Eric V. Holtzclaw; number one rule is to stop thinking about networking as ‘networking’. Networking should not be about meeting as many people as possible in as short amount of time. There is no glory in returning to the office with a handful of business cards if nothing comes from your efforts, and there is no need to continually add to your LinkedIn connections unless you can establish a meaningful relationship with each new connections. Instead, think about value; what value can you provide to each of your contacts and each of them to you… what resource or information can you share… it’s a two-way street

Have a Plan: Who, What, Where, How… Be Selective: Pick events, social media, online communities that are right for you and your business and meet quality people who are interesting and interested…

Focus on Only a Few: Pick one or two people at any given event, and spends your time really getting to know them, and potentially connecting with the rest of their networks. Seeking to establish a quality relationship with a few people provides the greatest payback for your efforts…

It’s About Follow-Up: There’s a philosophy that says if you don’t follow-up with someone within 10 days after meeting them it was never meant to happen… follow-up determines the people who are really serious about establishing a relationship and those that just connecting for the sake of connecting…

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In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Dave Clarke writes: The first and biggest mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking without really understanding the meaning of networking. They attend group meetings swapping business cards with everyone and broadcasting their message… they join online networks, and putting together a fancy profile, and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work, and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.

Some think they may need to do something differently, so they get some training– how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. Then, they do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook… Again; this doesn’t work and a few more conclude that networking doesn’t work. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t just dive in: Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. You need to be committed to investing the time to develop relationships and create a      network of advocates… Don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers or simply post a profile online and come away with business– it just doesn’t work like that!
  • Build networking into your overall marketing and business plans: It pays to plan ahead; if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve with your networking, then how can others help you? Plan your activities and look for advocates… the more you niche your target market(s), the better… identify other people or categories likely to have access to your target market(s).
  • Understand how to explain what you do: When asked; what do you do? Present your proposition confidently and consistently– your target market, problems you solve and your stories. People do not buy what you do; they buy into why you do it. It’s your passion and enthusiasm that engages and not a clever elevator pitch.
  • Don’t ignore your existing network: The cornerstone of your networking activities should be the people you have worked with or already done business; colleagues,      customers, suppliers… Invest time in these important relationships…
  • Identify who you need to add to your network: If your existing network is not big enough to generate enough word of mouth to achieve your plan then you need to build your network. Ask yourself who else is likely to have access to and influence with your target market(s). Then find where they network and try out those networking groups.
  • Find the networks that suit you: Once you find those networking groups try them out first, then only join the groups that are most productive. People become advocates for those that they know, like, trust…
  • Become an advocate for others, first: Take time to develop the relationships with key members of your network. Become an advocate for them. And, guess what? What goes round comes round. People will eventually become advocates for you, and this is where the networking dividend really pays-off!

In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Maribeth Kuzmeski writes: Networking, according to those who do it successfully (i.e., meaning– they have gained significant new business from the activity of networking) is not about collecting and giving out business cards, and it’s not about finding people who may be good prospects for your business…

Successful networking is about finding and cultivating potential advocates, people who will help you reach your goals, and it’s not about finding your next hot prospect. If you go about networking with an eye toward finding prospects, it’s a lose-lose; you won’t sell them anything and you will turn them-off; guaranteed. But if you go about networking with an eye toward finding and cultivating advocates, you will achieve a totally different result.

An advocate is someone who is already well-connected and may or may not ever become your customer… An advocate might be your neighbor, social media connection, member of your church, college buddy, your non-profit group… A single advocate can bring you multiple customers, while one potential prospect at a networking event will often result in one frustrating experience and zero sales…

So, who do know who might become an advocate? Think about it; who is well-connected in your community, your industry, your company, an existing customer, target market… Think outside the box. Who is in a position to introduce you to potential customers? Make a list of 20 potential advocates. Then, check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook… and decide how you will reach out to them… not to sell them something but simply to get to know them; just connect.

Give them a chance to get to know you. It takes a bit of patience and it most likely will not bring immediate gratification. But if you can find someone to act as your advocate, your efforts will be repaid many times over.

network OrganizationTypesGraphBNAS-Success1In the article When Networking Doesn’t Work: No Value in Just Touching Base by Trent writes: The key lesson that many people miss out on when they try to build and maintain professional connections is that without ‘value’, there is no real connection... Making empty contact doesn’t provide any value for anyone: And, you’re largely wasting your time and theirs… most important, you won’t build anything of value out of it. Instead, seek to make contacts with value; pass along value and you’ll get value in return… Here are a few tactics:

  • Never make contact unless you can contribute something of value: Don’t ask someone you only lightly know to go out for coffee unless you have a genuine purpose in doing so– and saying ‘Hi’ isn’t that purpose. Don’t waste your time, and certainly don’t waste  theirs.
  • Knowledge is often best thing you can offer– so offer it: If you have a useful piece of information that you’re sure someone else could get value out of, share it. By sending along something actually useful, you add value to their lives– and their connection to you becomes stronger because they now see you as more valuable.
  • When you pass along some value, let them know what you’re doing – and also ask about what they’re doing: A quick paragraph saying, what are you up to? And perhaps referencing the last big matter (or event) that you’re aware, which they were involved is a great way to find to keep relationship open and communication flowing.
  • Make mutually beneficial connections whenever possible: If you observe that one person’s need would be met with another person’s assets or skills; connect them together. It only takes you a minute, but if that connection provides mutual value for both parties, you’ll strengthen your relationship to both parties; it’s a win-win-win.
  • Suggest that when they’re in a bind, they should let you know, try to be helpful: Let people know that when they’re having issues, looking for solutions… they should let you know. Even if you can’t help them listening might useful, or you might know someone else who might be helpful. Become a resource…

A fundamental reason that networking doesn’t work is that most people lack a plan. They are not systematic or disciplined about which events they attend, why they attend them, what they are trying to achieve, how they will follow through after the event… According to David Nour; the critical first three areas in which networking fails are; purpose, goals, and plan (PGP)... Networking is not simply a noble exercise, but an important activity to create a preferential competitive advantage and it must not be left to chance…

According to kathleenchester; I rarely see networking work well and the majority of business people typically, only network sporadically (e.g., ‘pitch and run’) and they rarely get many relationships through their networking efforts… Networks should be developed to create strategic relationships… Where you partner and work together on long-term basis, and mutually support each other… Where you leverage each others’ centers of influence and tap into and connect with each others audiences…

According to Randy Gage; the three reasons why network marketing doesn’t work for most people are: 1.) 90% of people don’t follow the system! 2.) 9% of people follow the system but have wrong expectations!  3.) 1% of people follow the system but have poor skill set… According to David Nour; relationship creation alone won’t suffice; regardless of how many cups of coffee or lunch visits you schedule. The savvy professionals find opportunities to monetize their business relationships by bridging their ‘relationship creation’ with ‘relationship capitalization’.

Bridging this gap allows all parties to benefit and share economic value of the relationship. Be creative! It’s not just about how wide your network is, or how deep your network is, but how strong each relationship is…