When I started my own business firm after working as a cubicle slave (regular 9-5 job) for 25 years, I got lots of unsolicited advice from well-wishers.
One of them was that to be successful, you need to network.
And network more.I took this advice very seriously.
I joined networking clubs.
I attended every networking meeting, which came my way.There was a standard drill.
Rule no 1. Try to meet as many people as you can.
Rule no 2. Always carry 100 business cards to distribute.
I got so smitten by this idea, that I got waterproof cards printed-in case some body meets me in a swimming pool!
in case somebody meets me in a swimming pool!
Rule no 3. Greet everybody with a smile and thrust your hand into people’s unsuspecting hands for a very warm handshake.
Your handshake must be strong and purposeful.
And so many other rules.
Prepare an elevator 15 second Pitch.
Rehearse it so many times that you start saying it in your sleep.
Collect all the business cards (At one point of time, I was a proud owner of more than 2,000 business cards).After three years of this completely insane activity, I concluded that there were far better and entertaining ways to waste your time.
- Attending networking meetings means standing around and sipping cheap wine and offering complete strangers your boring 15-second elevator pitch.
Never mind if you are marketing high-end drilling machines and your poor un-suspecting target is a curtain whole seller.
- It is so bloody difficult to reach for your business card with a glass of whisky in your other hand.(for some unexplained reason, you are never given a good whisky brand in these meetings).
- These networking meetings also create un warranted pressure on you.
Are you dressed well?
Can you make eye contact?
Can you type an email?
Can you ask someone a question about themselves?
When do you make a follow-up call?
- Networking is the colossal waste of a good time.
After some time, I realised that I was attending these networking events and spending time shaking hands and distributing business cards and getting zero results.
People don’t give you business, just because you have given them a business card.
Unless you are selling a Rs 10 chocolate, where the perceived risk is low.
Business is about building credibility and trust.
I would rather build a relationship with one person, who knows 1000 people than trying to know 1000 people.
- Networking is seen as sleazy and not authentic.
All future business will be built on only one trait-trust.
The trust will be the future commercial currency.
Building trust is a marathon race, which will need long term investment.
On the other hand, networking is shameless self- promotion.
Today is the era of reverse marking- your customers must come to you instead of you trying to force yourself on unsuspecting potential customers.
I must also confess that during all these three years of aggressive networking, there are hardly any lasting relationships which I could build.
Networking is simply interacting with other individuals whose activities and interests are complementary to your own.
This cannot be a crowded sport.
- In addition, attending these networking meetings can be expensive too-you need to pay for food, overheads and good margins for the organisers.Over a period of time, it quickly adds up.
If you are new to business-these expenses are not the most welcome things.
My suggestion is that you should immediately stop wasting time on these time consuming, expansive networking meetings.
Instead, select a few rewarding relationships and nurture them over a period of time.
Do something to attract customers to you instead-great product, great service, and few but enriching relationships.
This is because commitments and involvement tend to be stronger when they come from people who share a mutual interest and reach an agreement with strongly nurtured relationships.