One: not knowing why you’re networking…
As someone who knows networking like the back of my hand, many people assume that I just
have a natural knack for it that others simply don’t possess. This is far from the truth. I am actually
not a natural networker. So I’ve experienced my share of setbacks, awkward conversations, and
being stuck with the wrong person on my way to where I am now, running the Business League on a full time basis. This 2018, I’d like to help others to overcome the four most common problems that people face in networking. These are the four core problems that can give you a varying array of bad results. If you address these you will dramatically improve the results from your networking.
I’ve personally been in each situation before and have experienced what it takes to get out of it. This blog will tackle the first problem.
Problem: Not knowing why you are networking.
This problem is very common for those just starting out with networking, however many seasoned
networkers fall into this trap over time. The problem is not being clear on why you’re networking
and not knowing what you want out of it.
Sure, most of you will say “more business”, “build my brand” or some such answer. The reality is this
is too vague. At the end of the year how will you know whether you’ve achieved more business or
whether you’ve increased your brand recognition. They also miss some of the most valuable
reasons to network.
This comes down to being really clear how you value networking.
How do you value networking?
Some people network haphazardly and never seem to find the results they’re looking for. I’ve found
that in many of these situations that these people don’t believe that business networking has any
value to add to their operations, of, more importantly have a very narrow view of what networking
should be doing for them. You won’t find success with networking unless you know what it can
personally do for you.
The first step is to understand what you can gain from networking. Some of this falls out of the
different types of network and will be explained below. In addition you can gain from the following:
- New business
- New strategic partnerships
- New friends
- New mentors
- New strategies
- New approaches and solutions
- Industry Knowledge
- New knowledge
- Being motivated to aim bigger, do better
- Community of trusted resources
- Support (not being alone in business)
And the list goes on. Once you’ve understood what would support you and your business grow its
important to get clear on what you’d like to achieve.
Once you understand what you want out of your networking the next step is to familiarise with the
different categories of networking there are and which one would be best suited to meet your
The different categories of networking
Networking can be roughly divided into four categories: Growth, Knowledge, Professional and
Referral-Based. Which one is most applicable to your business?
Referral-Based – if you’re just starting out or wanting to grow your business more, you’re probably
looking to find connections, strategic partners and business out side of your usual circles. Referral
based organisations can facilitate with connections to do business with. Most do immediate
connections and business within the group really well, however struggle with introductions to the
larger community. This type of networking has recently been described to me as hand-to- hand
combat. I like that. Yes it can get you something, but you’ve got to fight for them one-on- one each
Knowledge – If you want to improve your operations as a whole, you can network with knowledge
gathering in mind. This is useful when thinking of expanding into a new field. This can be through
learning from guest speakers and talking to other business owners. If you believe “The more you
know the more you grow” this category can provide exponential growth opportunities for your
business. At The Business League we have members that have created $100 000’s of business by
implementing different strategies that our guest speakers share with them.
Professional – looking to expand your network of suppliers and contacts for potential future use?
Then general professional networking with people in your industry and supporting industries will
Growth – Once you’ve explored the standard referral based networking you may be ready to
strategically network to grow your business. This could be through a combination of strategies and
support systems to help you grow your business, high quality business owners to implement them
with. This requires a high quality of business owners who are motivated, challenging themselves and
in the pursuit of the growth in business, growth in themselves and growing their team.
Some networking organisations do one of these well, some do one of these poorly, some do all of
them poorly and some do all of them really well.
Making sure you get this right at the start of 2018 and help set you on the right course towards