Of course we’re going to say networking is a great way to build your business, make new contacts and increase referrals. We’re hardly going to say it’s an utter waste of time, are we?
However, some people join a group, spend a few months in it, then decide it’s not worth their time/energy/money because the returns aren’t big enough. If you find yourself in a similar situation, and you’re wondering whether the group you’re currently a member of is worth your effort, make sure you ask yourself these questions BEFORE you give up your spot.
Do you attend regularly?
Groups tend to meet either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Some have a strict attendance policy where members can be penalised, or even excluded, if they do not achieve the necessary attendance rates. These aren’t simply there to keep the numbers up, but are a good way to remind people that attending is vitally important.
Many say “you can’t pass a referral to an empty seat”, and whilst this may be true, we all know that if you have a genuine referral, you can always email the person directly if they happen to absent. However, you can’t build relationships with people who aren’t present.
If your networking group meets every week, and you miss every fifth meeting, then over the course of a year you will have missed 10 meetings. That’s 10 opportunities to find out more about your fellow members, highlight your services, get involved in conversations and ask for referrals.
If you’re not attending regularly, then the chances are you won’t be seeing great returns. Or, in all honesty, you’ll see the returns you deserve.
Do you prepare for meetings?
Every group has a mixture of members who meticulously prepare for each meeting, writing out a new 60 second pitch for each meeting, and thinking about the best ways to leverage the power of the group. Other members will rush in at the last minute, and make something up on the sport. Perhaps even worse are those who use other people’s 60 second time to write their own pitch!
Even if you think you’re “getting away” with this sort of lax approach, your fellow members will notice. The problem is this last minute preparation shows everyone you don’t care much about your business. You certainly don’t care enough to give it any real thought or attention. It begs the question; if you don’t care, why should your fellow members?
There is also the risk that some members will feel you don’t care about them, or respect their time – certainly if it’s during their 60 seconds you’re preparing what you’re going to say.
Do you do one-to-ones with your fellow members?
Networking is about building genuine relationships with people, which as we all know, takes time and effort. You have to put in that time and effort by conducting regular one-to-ones with your fellow members. Even in larger groups with over 25 members you can manage to have a meeting with each member at least once a year.
These meetings are a great opportunity to find out more about what the other member does, but also to answer any questions they may have about your business. It is not about selling, or finding out who they know that you can sell to, but having a genuine and hopefully mutually beneficial (and interesting) conversation.
Many times members have found out they share common interests with each other, or discover a niche area of expertise or rarely mentioned service that may be of use to them or their contacts. You’ll never know unless you stop and have a chat over a coffee (other beverages are available).
Networking only works if you work at it. So, if it’s not working for you, what more can you do?
To visit one of our meetings, book you place by CLICKING HERE.