Especially in Jerusalem, it seems that networking OFFLINE is the new online. It is rare that a week goes by when there is not a networking event to attend. Obviously, there are regular groups that meet such as GBN and BNI, but I am referring to specific events which are put on to ‘get people together’.
Is there value in this? Yeah, of course there is…however, I personally think that there are things that are of greater value than spending around 2 hours standing around awkwardly or meeting and speaking to someone that has little to do with your current business plans.
However, let me stray slightly and come up with counter arguements:
1. But you could meet someone who will (give you big business)/(give you that big idea)/(refer you to someone)…
I’m sure that you could . But is it likely? Perhaps. Has it happened in the last 10 networking events that you have attended? If yes, then great. If not, then who are you kidding? It actually reminds me of when I was single and used to attend singles events or go on blind dates. Remember your married friends who told you that there was no harm on going and that she could be the one ?
(For more on the perils of going on lots of dates, see http://habitza.com/) We actually went on a date once, but she has forgotten – but I digress)
2. As a freelancer, it is important for me to meet people who are in a similar situation to me…
I actually agree with this in a way. I work in an office on my own and rarely meet other people. I am lucky to have a wife who is in a similar (but very different) business and we can and do brainstorm at times. However, it is doubtful to me whether meeting with a set of semi-random people who generally want to talk about their own business and have little interest in your’s is the best way to do it.
3. Sometimes I need to get out of the house…
Agreed. Majorly important. However, I prefer the cinema/restaurant/pub etc.
Alright, I realize that I am being slightly cynical. I think my point really is that there is a value to everything that you do in addition to your time. If you are just attending networking events because that is what you have been told that you should do as a business owner then you may want to think again whether that is the best use of your time. Whatever business you are in, there are ALWAYS additional things that you could be doing especially in the marketing of it.
I think that a good think about networking events is that everyone is there to network and therefore you feel less embarrassment to approach someone and to ultimately pitch them. However, if you have something genuine and useful to the person that you are pitching then there is no reason to feel that nervousness.
A great alternative to networking at all is to phone someone up.
Who is the leader in your industry?
Who can be a great connection to you to introduce you to new business?
Who is the most likely person or company to purchase your product?
You would be surprised at just how effective it is to pick up the phone and tell someone how you can help them. Ask them first what their problem/concern is and then tell them how you can help them. Reciprocity is extremely powerful (read Robert Cialdini’s book and weep) and if you offer someone, then you are majorly likely to score a hit.
My point (again?)?
Spread yourself thickly rather than thin and make sure that you spend your time wisely. Be laser targeted to the ONE person who can help you the most rather than meeting with a load of people who there may be a small chance of them helping you.
Keeping it fairly real,
PS. Didn’t really fit in above, but definitely another post coming soon about the usefulness (or lack of) of the ‘breakfast’ networking clubs…any thoughts?
Are you a networking fan? Am I totally missing the point? Do you find networking ridiculously useful and has it made a different to your business? Please let me know by commenting below: