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1 why networking doesn't work 2 why do people find networking valuable? 3 how do i get in front of the right people? 4 how do i choose a networking event? 5 how do i get the most out of networking meeting? 6 how do i build my network? 7 how do you answer the question what do you? 8 how do you tell a good stiory? 9 how do you get the most out of networking? 10 how do i build trust within my network? 11 how do i follow up? 12 how do i get the best from 121 meetings? 13 how do i get people to refer me? 14 how do i manage my network? 15 how do i nurture my network? 16 how do i build advocates?
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Why networking doesn't work - Business Networking Articles

Business Networking Articles > Latest Blogs

2011-01-04 10:45:10
Why networking doesn't work

Dave ClarkeBusiness people often turn to networking at different times. Start ups will often network like crazy early on and established businesses will often start when traditional routes to market dry up. The thing they very often have in common is the idea that networking is the answer to their problem. The first and BIG mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking with a complete misunderstanding of what networking really is.

This activity often involves looking for opportunities to 'network' with lots of people. They attend group meetings (once) swapping business cards with everyone they can, broadcasting their message, chasing immediate transactions and moving on. They join online networks, put together a 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 and they may get some training into how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. They do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, twitter, linkedin, facebook et al. Again this doesn't work and a few more conclude that networking doesn't work.

It doesn't have to be that way! There are plenty of networking groups out there with experienced business people who will help you avoid the mistakes and make sure networking does work for you and your business. Here are 10 tips for learning from the mistakes others have made.

1. Don't just dive in

2. Build networking into your overall marketing and business plans

3. Understand how to explain what you do

4. Don't ignore your existing network

5. Work out who you need to add to your network

6. Find the networks that suit you

7. Commit forthe long term and follow up

8. Meet one2one outside the group

9. Use Online Networks to support your offline networking

10. Become an advocate for others first

1. Don't just dive in

The people who make networking really work have people advocating them when they are not there. They get a constant flow of business, support and opportunities through these 'Advocates'. 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.

This means finding other business people who operate in similar markets to you. Then helping them and building relationships to earn that trust so don't expect instant results. 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!

2. Build networking into your overall marketing and business plans

"It pays to plan ahead it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark"

If you don't know what you are trying to achieve with your networking how can others help you? Plan how much business you are looking to generate via word of mouth and how much time you can devote to your networking activities.

The more you niche your target market or markets the better. This means you can identify those other business people or categories likely to have access to your target market. Joining networking groups with these people means you can build relationships with the right people. People operating in your target market will be able to provide access to the opportunities you want.

3. Understand how to explain what you do

When asked "what do you do?" present your proposition confidently & consistently - your target market, the 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.

4. Don't ignore your existing network

The cornerstone of your networking activities should be the people you have worked with or already done business with - Colleagues, Customers and Suppliers. Invest time in these important relationships. Catch up with them and find out if there is anything you can do to support them.

5. Work out 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. Then find where they network and try out those networking groups.

6. Find the networks that suit you

Once you find those networking groups try them out first and only join those groups that you will enjoy attending because if you don't enjoy it you probably won't do it. People become advocates for those that they know, like, rate and trust. You have to spend time with people for that to happen so you may as well have fun doing it.

Work can really be an extension to your social life!

7. Commit for the long term and follow up

Take the time to get to know the members and the ways you can help - support, information and introductions. Become an active listener and see how you can help the people you meet. After meeting follow up with a simple e-mail or telephone call confirming where you met and what action, if any, was agreed. Connect them to others and any helpful information. Prompt follow ups are essential! Find out which online networks they use and connect with them if you are also a member.

8. Meet one2one outside the group

You've got to like someone and know them a bit. It looks as though they might know your target market. How do you take things forward? Simple, meet with them for a coffee and start getting to know them. What makes them tick, what are their successes, their aspirations, their skills and experiences? What they are looking for? See if you can connect them to one of your contacts?

9. Use Online Networks to support your offline networking

Find out which online networks your influencers and target market use and join a couple. Use the network tools to find the people you already know and connect with them online. Post a profile that is consistent with your personal brand and contribute. Listen for people posting things you can help with and share your stories, hints, tips, & insights.

Contribute to online conversations and share your knowledge and connections. Make contact with like minded professionals. Networking online is just like offline and not about selling - it's about building relationships. The best business is developed when both parties know, like and trust each other. So take the time to get to know them and establish rapport.

10. Become an Advocate for others first

A networking advocate goes out of their way to recommend your goods and services without being asked or expecting anything in return. Take time to develop the relationships with key members of your network. Go out of your way to connect them to key members of your network and introduce them to people who might benefit from their services. 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 out!

Finally, in the immortal words of Woody Allen: "80% of success is showing up!"

Good Networking!

Posted by Dave Clarke at 10:45:10, 04 Jan 11
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