Networking is not the only way to be successful in business, but is almost always at least a part of a successful business model. The relationships we create through networking leads to higher level business referrals making it easier to grow your business.
There are a number of mistakes often seen with networking and sadly, these are seen more often in women than men.
Failure to Launch. We don’t network. We mean to, but life is busy what with work and family obligations (particularly when that family is young) we just don’t get around to it. People, who do network, meanwhile are passing you in the fast lane. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Just do it. Set a goal for two or three networks you want to be involved in and get involved.
You want to “Do it on your own…” At least two things are wrong with this. First that is the hard way, and second, there are people who want to help you, but your need to prove yourself deprives them of the joy of helping you and deprives you of that help. Accept help. And if you really want to be successful, ask for help!
You’re focused on connecting with people who you believe can help you. Strategic networking is important, but you don’t know who someone knows until you get to know them better. That guy who underwhelms you may be married to the CEO of the company where you dream of going to work someday. Be open to the connections from surprise sources.
You network internally. Internal networking is important, but not as important as broadening your scope. If you get laid off, fired, or made redundant, experience shows that your internal network at your job evaporates. Plus, no matter how big your company is, there are connections and information you just cannot get internally. Broaden your networks.
You prefer a few close friends. All indications are that business opportunities are more likely to come from business connections than close friends. One of my clients brought a friend of twenty years to a referral workshop. At the end of the day they had passed strong potential business worth $1.4 million. They had known each other twenty years but hadn’t been able to make the leap to the referral connections. Know the value of your loose connections and educate your friends and close connections on how to refer you business.
You think your connections on LinkedIn are really connections and that your friends on Facebook are really your friends. They are not. And whether you are connected to someone through Facebook or Linkedin, friendship or work, don’t wait until you need something to try to deepen the connection. Invest in the relationship by giving before you ask for a favor or introduction or referral. Make deposits into the relationship before making withdrawals.
Failure to follow-up. Set a goal for creating at least one new referral relationship and deepening at least one referral relationship each month. Networking is much more than standing in a group of strangers with a glass of Chardonnay. Follow-up networking events by contacting those people you met with whom you would like to have a deeper relationship. Follow-up is the key. If you have a networking event on your calendar, put the follow-up time on your calendar as well.