Beep Beep Beep… BANG.
With your eyes still closed you rouse from slumber and smash your alarm to silence. It’s a quarter past an ungodly hour and you’re waking up early for yet another early breakfast meeting. Groggily, you head to the bathroom and jump head first into a hot shower. It’s dark outside, still and quiet – Not even the early birds are up yet.
You’ve been doing this same routine for the last 10 months, and this morning, like so many mornings you ask yourself why. Why do you keep going back to this group of people who aren’t giving you the leads that you were sure you would get?
There could be a number of reasons why; as a self employed person you continue to turn up at an unproductive (in terms of lead generation) networking event.
I do a lot of networking and have been running my own events for the past 4 years. I’ve been attending other people’s events for a lot longer. If you can relate to the above story or you want to avoid similar feelings in the future, the next few paragraphs should help.
What is Networking?
Networking amongst business owners is an extremely popular marketing strategy. It involves meeting up with like minded business people either physically at a face to face meeting or virtually using a platform like zoom, teams or remo. The specific aim of networking is to meet new business people and forge stronger relationships with people you already know.
Why do people go networking?
There are four main reasons why business owners choose to go networking.
- To be around people
- To make new contacts
- To generate leads
- To sell a product or service
To be around people
When we start a new business things change. Gone are the weekly team meetings and chats around the water cooler. Gone are the impromptu lunch dates or phone calls with colleagues. In short, your access to people shrinks considerably when you choose to do it alone. For some, this lack of access to people can be lonely, isolating and a little overwhelming. For people like that, Networking can provide ready made access to scores of fun, interesting and like minded people.
To make new contacts
When we start a new business, it’s likely that we’re experts in a subject matter. That subject matter gets us so far when starting out, but we quickly realise that there are a whole bunch of skills that we need when we run our own business that we perhaps don’t have. Going networking and meeting business people with different skill sets can be an extremely effective way of making new connections. It can help you solve challenges you may face in your business.
To generate leads
If most people are honest, when they start out networking, they probably do it because they need a cost effective method of meeting people that may need their product or service. Networking is proven to be an extremely cost effective way of getting your name out there and meeting people who may not be aware of your start up business if you don’t go.
It’s absolutely possible to go to one networking event and have serendipity show up. I’ve seen people sell the first time they visited a networking event many times, but it’s important to state that it’s not normal. Sales generally happen as a direct result of getting to Trust.
People do business with people they know like and trust
Networking helps business owners get to trust, because the more often you show up with the same group, the more you will get to know them, like them and finally trust them.
How to build a network
If you really want to build your network, show up. Showing up regularly, making contacts and developing real relationships is the best way to build a solid network. However, showing up is really just half the job. If you genuinely want to build TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS, you must meet with the people in the network in places other than just the network meeting itself.
How to build trust amongst people at a networking event
In his book Key Person of Influence – Jason Priestley describes the 11 – 7 – 4 rule. He states that in order to really get to the point of TRUST. You must
Meet a person on 11 separate occurrences
For a minimum of 7 hours in 1-2-1 time
Across 4 different locations.
Think about it. Lot’s of the people you went to school / college or work with were in your company way more than 11 times, but if you didn’t spend 121 time together on projects or over lunch or at the bar, it’s likely you ever moved past acquaintances.
The real lesson here is that if you want to get the most out of your networking exploits, it’s really imperative to reach out and arrange 121’s where you can get to know eachother better. Better still, arrange to meet in social situations. Remember, the key is really to get to know, like and trust each other.