I don’t feel like I’m boasting when I say that I am a master networker. At least I was. I have spent countless hours over the past six years networking around Utah. I’ve joined every networking group I could find. I’ve donated my time and have been in the leadership of some of them. Out of over 1,000 people registered on www.linkedin.com I am in the top 3 people with the most connections. But has all this networking really worked? Has it been successful? The answer depends on what your definition of success is.
If you’re attending networking groups in order to get business, then most networking groups have not helped me. The amount of business I’ve received from going to networking groups for six years does not equal what I have been able to get in one day using other marketing methods. Has it worked for other people? Maybe it has. But I suspect it works better for some than for others.
I believe networking groups lend themselves better to those who sell commodities. Someone who sells cell phones might do well in a networking group. At least better than someone who sells high-end $50K websites like I do.
I think one major flaw in networking groups is that they tend to attract the unsuccessful. Think about it. If you were making enough money without going to the groups and were busy, would you join a group? No, you join a group because you need more money. This creates a problem, because if I join the group trying to sell something to you, and you join the group trying to sell something to me, but neither of us have any money, then we can’t very well buy anything can we? Maybe there should be networking groups for people interested in trading services or something.
I’ve found that as soon as my business is successful, I start losing the desire to go to networking groups. It just isn’t a priority anymore.
But there are other reasons to go to networking groups besides making sales. Maybe you enjoy the speakers. Maybe you enjoy the company. Maybe you just like getting to know a lot of people. I’ve attended groups for all these reasons and I’ve found that when my intentions are not sales-oriented, these groups are much more successful.