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Why Your Networking Isn’t Working


The idea of joining networking groups always has so much promise initially.

But then people often get frustrated because they go to these events and they seem to get no business out of them.

Yet others swear by the power of networking and even stake their entire business on it.

How is it that two people can experience the same thing and have diametrically opposed views on the value of it?

It’s because one likely understands the secret of networking and one doesn’t.

What’s the secret to networking?

Simple: build relationships before you need them.

Networking works when you go to focus on building relationships with people.

Networking works when you focus on giving value to other people.

Networking works when you focus on helping others before you attempt to be helped yourself.

Which is why networking is sometimes hard.

Because it takes patience.

It takes time.

It requires selflessness.

It calls for a long term service minded approach to doing business.

If you’re going to networking meetings thinking only of how you’re going to benefit yourself as fast as possible, then you might as well not go because it isn’t going to work.

It’s not because the group is bad; it’s because your strategy is bad.

Really networking has less to do with the group and more to do with your approach to the group.

The two biggest mistakes to make are to:

1. Try to immediately sell to the people there
2. Try to immediately get referrals from the people there

And unfortunately those are probably the two most common approaches people take to those events.

Did you really think they came to the meeting just hoping for someone to come along who would sell something to them?

And why would an absolute stranger be focused on helping you?

Or why would someone you barely know suddenly be willing to introduce you to all the people they’ve spent years of their life building relationships with?

They wouldn’t.

And so they don’t.

That doesn’t mean networking doesn’t work.

It means that networking strategy doesn’t work.

In fact, that strategy isn’t networking.

Attempting to sell to someone you just met is fine (at Southwestern Consulting we love it!), but it’s not networking.

Networking is about first spending time helping others before they help you.

Networking is about giving to others before they get to give to you.

Most of all, networking is about building the relationships long before you ever need them.

  • Leonardo DaVincci

    There is truth to this. But the problem is the nomenclature. “Networking” the word itself indicates that it’s an event where people go to know and be known, and to trade “What can I do for you and what can you do for me.” That is why networking doesn’t work. It’s the wrong word, the wrong concept. What you’ve explained in your article is — supposedly — the right thing. You have to help others first. That takes time, lots of time. And in the mean time, no one is helping you. So the problem is that Networking alone is not the answer. You’d have to spend multiple sessions, probably years, of networking before you get anything out of it. For those who haven’t started, that’s something to consider. But those who need to get off the ground quickly, the best way is to pay for good marketing, and advertising, which is not cheap. Ignore either at your peril. One is cheap and effective after many years, the other is expensive and possibly effective immediately.