6 Reasons Why Your Networking Is Not Working
Networking is one of the most affordable and yet efficient forms of marketing. Yet, some people still find it hard to put themselves and their businesses out there. This blog talks about why your networking is not working.
You are a brilliant entrepreneur with a revolutionary startup idea. You are confident in your business and wholeheartedly believe in your mission. But through all this, you lack one crucial skill: networking.
Like most business owners, you plunged all of your investments into the business, believing that as long as your product was good, you would attract the right audience. Your passion is undeniable, but you don’t understand that passion alone cannot make a business thrive.
You reach out to investors to scale up your production and marketing with an over-enthusiastic impression but fail to make a lasting impression. The responses are lukewarm at best, and many of your emails go unanswered.
Frustrated, you decide to attend a local networking event nearby. You confidently walk into the room believing that if anyone hears about your product, they will be sold!
You quickly realise that you don’t know how to approach people the right way, and even you muster the courage to do so, you feel very uncomfortable and come off as inauthentic.
The outcome is a bitter disappointment. You walk away without a single contact and any leads to follow up on. Your marketing and networking efforts crumble like a puzzling riddle waiting to be solved.
Networking Can Be Tricky!
I’ll admit. My first networking experience was not the easiest either. I remember swearing to myself that it would take a herculean effort for me ever to go back to one.
Yet, here I am, years later, preaching about why networking is essential to your business success. In 2022, I even won The Networker of the Year Award!
When done right, there is no doubt that networking is crucial for fostering relationships, gaining valuable insights, and creating opportunities for collaboration and growth in a competitive and interconnected business environment.
6 Reasons Why Your Networking is Not Working
1. Asking for Too Much, Too Soon
Networking is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you go in expecting to make money at the first session, you may end up disappointed.
Your networking might not be working because you are looking for overnight results.
You have to play the long game. Get to know people, follow them on social media, engage with them, and find mutual ground.
It’s a lot like making a friend. You have to cultivate the relationship, and that in itself takes time.
When it comes to networking, you have to be patient.
Here are two ways to stay patient:
Set Realistic Expectations
Networking is a long-term investment. Don’t expect immediate results and deals. The best way to remain patient is to be realistic with the expectations you set.
It could be that you want 10 new LinkedIn connections, or that you want to follow up with 5 new contacts. Whatever the case, make sure that it’s realistic and achievable.
Rejection is part of life, and part of networking. One way to be patient is to embrace rejection and understand that not every rejection will lead to a meaningful opportunity. Instead of feeling discouraged, see it as a learning opportunity.
2. Being Robotic
You know what they say – People buy from people. Your product could be very valuable and high quality, but as long as your brand is not humanised, you will have trouble.
Authenticity is a big part of networking. If you approach networking solely with the intention of selling without building genuine connections, people may easily sense your insincerity. Remember, people buy from people who they know, like and trust.
Your networking may not be working because people are unable to connect with you.
Here are two ways to practice authenticity when networking:
Focus on the Consumer
The rule of thumb when it comes to marketing is that it’s never about you. It’s about the consumer. The best kind of marketing does not feel like marketing. It feels like a story that resonates with the consumer.
Put yourself in your consumers’ shoes. What would they want? How can you appeal to their emotions? Answering these questions is the best way to be more authentic with your networking.
Speak your Truth
Vulnerability is powerful.
Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the centre of meaningful human experiences.”
Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts and opinions. Even if your opinion varies from others, share it respectfully and diplomatically.
Admit your mistakes and uncertainties. This makes you more relatable and human, encouraging deeper, more authentic conversations.
3. Skipping the Follow-Up
Failing to follow up when networking can mean many missed opportunities and weakening valuable relationships. When you take too long to follow up, the other person may think that you are disinterested or even forget.
Consistent follow-up is one of the most crucial steps for nurturing relationships.
Here are two ways to make sure that you follow up:
It’s such a privilege to be living in the world we’re in today. Where you can just say “Alexa, remind me to follow up with Ashley from Networking-in…” and go about the rest of your day.
Digital calendars, task management tools and CRM software can also schedule follow-up reminders. Set specific times and dates when you aim to reach out to your new contacts, and follow through with them.
Create a Follow-Up Template
Following up sometimes seems tedious when you don’t know how to do it. But if you spend some time creating a template, it’s much easier and faster. Prepare a standard follow-up email which you can customise depending on who you are sending it to.
In this template, express gratitude for the meeting, and your interaction with them, Refer to each key discussion point, and express your intention to stay in touch.
4. Viewing Meetings As One-Offs
It’s nearly impossible to form a deep meaningful connection after interacting with someone once.
In short, your networking may not be working because you treat the meetings as isolated events. This makes your interactions superficial because you don’t take time to get to know people, understand their needs, and build trust.
Treating meetings as one-offs can lead to a reputation of insincerity and opportunism, which can deter others from wanting to engage with you.
Here are two ways to stop viewing meetings as one-offs:
Research on Successful Networking
In his classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie talks about the timeless principles of building meaningful relationships and how this contributes to long-term success in personal and professional life.
Warren Buffet says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Networking is not about quick wins or short-term gains but about nurturing relationships, offering value, and building a strong network over time. Read the right books, and speak to successful networkers.
They’ll all tell you the same thing – The benefits of networking manifest in the long run.
Set Long Term Goals
Why have you chosen to go networking? This is a crucial question. What are you aiming to achieve?
Setting long-term goals helps you stop viewing meetings as one-offs and instead focus on the bigger picture.
Clearly define your networking objectives and consider how building lasting relationships can help you achieve your professional and personal goals.
5. Failing to Listen Actively
Authentic networking involves not just speaking but also listening actively to others. Show genuine interest and perspectives. Don’t interrupt people when they are speaking. Give them a full chance to express themselves.
People like to feel heard. It’s one of the basic ways to get them to know, like, and trust you. If you can listen keenly to them, you’re better placed to build a meaningful business relationship.
Here are ways to make sure that you are listening actively:
Asking questions helps you to understand better. It keeps you engaged and ensures that you are paying attention to what is being said. By asking follow-up questions, you delve deeper into the topic and show interest in what the speaker has to say.
When you are listening to someone it’s really easy to get distracted by your environment. This interferes with active listening.
Try to minimise mental distractions. If your mind starts to wander, gently refocus on the conversation at hand.
6. Always Taking, Never Giving Back
Another common mistake that we tend to make is to always be the recipient of favours, and never give back. This weakens a business relationship.
Networking is a two-way street. If you’re always focussed on what you can receive rather than what you have to offer, your efforts may fall flat.
Here’s how to give back:
We tend to believe that giving back is all about the money. But sharing knowledge is also a grand gesture. If you have expertise in a particular area, share your knowledge with others. This could be through informal discussions, presentations, or even sharing relevant links and articles by you or someone else that could be helpful.
While you may not always be best placed to help someone, you can always facilitate introductions between individuals who could benefit from knowing each other. Think about all of the people in your network and how they could help with solutions. An introduction could go a long way in building a business relationship with someone.
Plus, they are likely to return the favour by finding ways to help you as well. It’s a win-win situation!
6 Reasons Why Your Networking is Not Working – Our Summary
It’s undeniable that networking is crucial, but it’s even more important to network the correct way.
There are things that you can do to enhance your networking and make sure that you are doing it the right way, and in turn, gaining maximum results.
The 6 reasons why your networking is not working are:
- Asking for Too Much Too Soon
- Being Robotic
- Skipping the Follow-Up
- Viewing Meetings As One-Offs
- Failing to Listen Actively
- Always Taking Never Giving Back.
I wrote a comprehensive guide with the top 16 tips to network like a pro. If you’ve reached this far I can guarantee that you’ll like it. Download the FREE Ebook here.
We’re always up for a chat, so get in touch. Outside ideas are on a mission to help people and businesses grow.
Onwards and upwards my friend,