Deeper or Wider?
Your business needs you to network BOTH ways!
by Talmar Anderson
I love words. What about you? Network…net – work. It is both a noun and a verb. Which way do you network in your professional sphere? The noun Network is a group of people with which we associate because of a common interest. I would challenge that most of us actually consider our noun Network associations when we are booking our business development actions. Certainly some school chums and wine connoisseur friends may send you business if they can keep up with your newest offerings over the sports announcer’s chatter or the oakiness of the tastings. But let’s look at the verb network. You KNOW I love action!
“Network (v.): To cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally through employment or moving to a higher position”. Do you have a group that is actually looking out for your professional advancement? The good news is that there are more of these than ever before usually through professional associations, membership communities and continued education accelerators. [Talmar It Up Truth: Make sure they are working for you as much as they are working your wallet (always with the metrics…can’t help myself!).]
When networking for business, we tell ourselves that we are going to meet prospects so that they will buy from us and therefore help us advance our business success. This wide casting of your “net” can work if we are targeted about who will be in attendance wherever you chose to spend those networking hours. How much access will you get to each attendee? Will the topic be conducive to what your business does? Will people there be interested in talking more about your business or will they be fighting to make sure they get the last appetizer before the food gets cleared? This is where some networking events can get a bad reputation. If you go EXPECTING to be able to spend time and actually talk with someone to grow your business and network, you need to do a little homework before you commit.
It is time to go deeper with your network. It is up to you to understand what type of people attend these events and how the agenda will be a driven. If you sell to Human Resource Directors of companies with 5,000 – 50,000 employees, a BNI structured event is probably not going to be your best use of time with its brief intros and focus on one member. If you sell direct sales of skin care, the Bar (law firms) Association’s Committee on Economic Development may not be a great use of your networking hours. Long committee reporting and socio-economic considerations may not allow the entry point for what is happening in your business right now.
Look for groups that will cultivate the kind of conversations and / or people that will help you advance your business. A group that can share common interests you have in your position within the company or industry. Then you plan for the time to allow consistent, uninterrupted and engaging conversation around your business topics! Crazy talk. I know! Imagine that there could be a better place for a baker to spend their time than a panel on “How Service Industries will be Repositioned in the Government Sector” just because he belongs to a group that may have a prospect attending. Go deeper.
Yes, we need to meet new people. Yes, we need to be open to possibilities. But, if you surround yourself with successful people looking for and creating topical discussions you are far more likely to form a DEEP network that gets you, your business goals and can EASILY refer you qualified prospects. That is makings the best use of your networking time and opportunities! Now GO! Grow!
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