Networking... you're doing it wrong!

  • Networking is a "socio economic business activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities".  That, my friends, is what Wikipedia has to say about that.

     

    Let’s start at the caveman level and work our way up.  I am sure one day OG was out there banging rocks together for whatever reason he would do such a thing, when a spark jumped from between the rocks, touched some dry pine needles and poof...fire.  How long do you think it took the knowledge of fire to spread?  Think about it a second.  How many people did OG know?  Maybe the people in his tribe.  Maybe one day someone else named Grog stumbled into the camp, saw the fire and took the knowledge with him.  So how long did it take for this knowledge to spread a hundred miles?  A lifetime maybe?  It took person to person contact to make this happen. Think about Velcro… a “modern” tool that we all learned was a byproduct of the Space Race.  But it was actually “invented” by Swiss Inventor George de Mestral in 1941.  But I digress…

     

    Good ideas seem to flourish when people get together and talk.  Imagine if Arthur Davidson of Milwaukee and Henry Melk and William S Harley had never met up.  We would probably never have had the Harley Davidson Motorcycle dynasty we have today.  (Not really sure what happened to Melk… he is sort of the Pete Best of the motorcycle world).  

     

    You can try to social media yourself into someone’s heart and mind, but it won’t work.  You have seen enough failure in this area to know this.  I mean seriously, how do cat pictures build you as a mogul?  And once Linkedin began allowing people to recommend or endorse with a mouse click, it pretty much lost what little validity it had.   The ONLY way to develop business relationships is still toe to toe.  You need to be someplace where people are looking for people who speak the language and may be able to help.  


    Before you go too far with that…a side story.
    I recently found out that the chef at a local restaurant knows a bunch of doctors that I have been wanting to do business with.  I stopped into 310 Grill in Bullhead City, AZ and was talking to Chef Blessing about his new lunch to go service when I spotted some incredible looking veal.  I told him I was staying for dinner to which he informed me that no, those were for the six doctors who all come for dinner once a month.  He told me when they come, what they order, what kind of wine they drink etc..  This dinner meeting is their “release” if you will. I would not think to crash their dinner meeting, but now I know what kind of wine to show up with at their office, or where to offer to meet any one of them for dinner.

     

    Everyone knows someone or something you don’t know.  I have been to chamber of commerce mixers where the guy serving drinks turned out to be a great contact.  He knew a lot of people I should know and was great at making sure I was in the right place at the right time.  Some of these introductions have turned out to be invaluable.  Later when this bar tender opened his own place he became a good customer of mine.  It was a seed and it grew.

     

    Okay so what's your plan for networking?  If it is to show up… that is not a plan.  MY goal is to hand out cards and get cards.  I only hand a card to someone who asks for one.  I intend to spend about 90 seconds with someone then move on.  If this is someone interesting I will whip out my handy dandy smart phone and make a lunch appointment right then and there, and GET THEIR EMAIL address so the invite goes out at the same time.  I also like asking for their assistants name so I know who to call if there is a change.  One of the main reasons behind the development of CRM’s like our own influence.fm is to keep track of all of these new contacts you’re going to make and make sure you do what you say you will do.  

     

    What is your GOAL for networking?  If it’s that you plan to show up like above, just skip it.  But if your plan is to talk to 10 people you have never spoken with before, THAT is a goal that makes sense and is attainable.  But you need to hold onto the information and take notes so you know what to do next and maybe what they like to drink.

     

    Speaking of drinking…you do not go to networking events with the intent to have a drunk fest.  Take it easy on the food and the drinks.  You are actually not being social.  You are working.  You have a job, a plan to execute and goals.

     

    The bottom line:  Networking is quantifiable.  You can quickly calculate how many sales you made that were a direct result of a networking encounter.  Take all of the networking encounter income divided by all of the networking contacts and you will have a number.  THAT number of how much money you make every time you say hello at a networking event.  It makes it easier to plan your networking and networking goals when you know how much you’re making just being there.








1 comment
  • Rod Schwartz
    Rod Schwartz Chris,
    Reading your post just now, it struck me that Roy H. Williams offers a similar argument for targeting prospects through ad copy, rather than demographically. 
    As you know, he's not a big fan of making an ad buy to reach "the right people."  (He...  more
    January 24, 2015