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Are you frustrated with your networking results?

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“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~~Albert Einstein

If you have ever felt that the time spent networking was wasted I submit that it is not the activity itself with the problem. Rather it is your intent and/or your event. Amateur networkers experience this often and heed Dr. Einstein’s observation by simply discontinuing the practice. They are not crazy—just fed up.

This week let’s consider a more effective strategy to improve your own networking results.

The best place to initiate a change is from within so we will start there, as well. What was your intent in attending the last networking event that frustrated you? If it was to collect as many business cards as possible I imagine you hit that target well. And yet, it was completely unsatisfactory. Later that night you pulled out of your bulging pocket many new contacts–and did not know what to do next. Insanely you did what you always did. That is, you robotically keyed each one into your database and methodically sent a generic email to everyone. This is high effort with low return. Feels a little like insanity to continue, doesn’t it? It is like throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping some will eventually stick.

Sadly, some will stick. Some connections strip mined from a loosey-goosey networking event may eventually become the perfect person to accelerate your business. I say sadly because this fools people into doing more of the same. Hello, Albert!

Consider this common model we are all familiar with that should illustrate what is happening. Some people do buy winning lottery tickets. That is what keeps the vast majority buying their own. The winner is in the ticket, though, not the purchaser. That ticket would have gone to someone anyway. The same is true in these lucky networking contacts. The success comes from the person you met—not you.

Rather than rely on hope change what you think to see better results. What is your intention in networking? I recommend taking two main goals in with you.

The first is to look for people that can help your current customers, prospects, or strategic alliances enjoy more success. Improve their life. Forget about helping yourself. You tried that and have many useless lottery tickets to show for that effort. Let’s say you are a Residential Realtor and one of your current buyers is looking for a new home they can downsize into now that they are empty-nesters. The kids are not only out of the house but out of college. Maybe they are avid golfers or indulgent pet owners. Look for someone who can help these people take a memorable golf vacation or can introduce them to a great pet spa or veterinarian. If successful, you won’t have a pocket full of business cards but will have one or two valuable contacts. Get to know them better. When comfortable you can introduce them to your clients. When they know you they can introduce you to their clients—some of whom may also be downsizing (or upsizing or whatever.)

The second intent is to look for people that can further your goals. Imagine you are a mortgage broker who has an excellent program to help people that have good income and no down payments get into their first home quickly. This may be ideal for someone who is just graduating from an expensive school and launching a lucrative profession. However, when they first come out of school they are saddled with large school loans and can’t even start shopping homes until they get a job offer. After that they can select the city and start the process and usually want to go fast. These may be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on.

Let’s imagine you do not have any contacts into these schools. (If you do, start there.) If not, network for these resources. You might look for people directly or indirectly associated with specific universities. (Here’s a hint—these schools probably have a calendar of events. That’s a very effective shortcut.) Barring that, you might instead network for people who have successfully negotiated that process already. That is, they graduated ten years ago and are now successful. Ask if they can help you understand the issues facing your intended target market. You may find your plan is not likely to succeed. This is okay since it saves time and lets you reshape the plan. You may find they are influential in the alumni association. This is wonderful as they may be perfect golden goose for your program. More likely you may wind up somewhere in the middle.

At any rate you will almost certainly find that your networking will be far more effective by changing your intent or your event. Welcome to networking sanity.

© 2017 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

 

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Written by bniguy

February 19, 2017 at 6:49 am

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