Fresh Blood in the Business Networking Gene Pool
By Jeffery Glaze
How many times did you see me at a networking event in the past month? If it is a staple of your business it should have been more than once. How many people did you meet for the first time while networking? I am hoping that you can’t even think of the number. If you can count the number of new contacts that you made, I would ask “is your business growing?”
I am sure that I have talked to you in the past about comfort zones. This is the place where we know people and we feel comfortable. We get a few referrals now and then, and hey, “I don’t have to feel out of place”. Like the saying from the theme of the sitcom “Cheers” “I want to go where everybody knows my name”.
The problem with this is that in most cases we don’t have enough people who know our name to become extremely successful. How can we change this?
We have to reach beyond the comfort zone. We have to network outside of our own area or geographic vicinity.
Even then, we are working within a group of people who are networking regularly in their own areas. This creates a situation where our success is limited by meeting people who are currently networking to promote their business. What happens when no new business comes into our group? If we are not doing other things to prospect for business, we burn each other out.
Let me use the alligator for example. If you put a pair of alligators in a pond that has fish, sooner or later, the gators will eat all of the fish in the pond. If animals come to the pond to drink, the gators have a way to get more food. What do the gators do when the food runs out? They go looking for it. They often end up far from the pond in someones back yard looking lovingly at the family pet. The gator moves beyond the comfort zone or it starves to death.
As we continue to network in the same group, we find that if no new business comes into the group, or leads do not come through the members from outside the group, the group will literally starve to death or less dramatically, go out of business.
The best way for the group to flourish is to bring in fresh blood or new members. It is especially effective if the new members have never used business networking before to build their business. Suddenly new opportunities open up for a portion of the group that did not previously exist. The new member immediately has a group of new prospects to work with.
Most of us who network a lot also have business that is outside of networking. What would happen if we brought that business into the group? What if they in turn brought their clients into the group? Not only would networking organizations get larger, but the people currently in those organizations would prosper in a big way.
Have you ever considered asking clients or prospects if they have ever networked as a part of their business? If you were to ask them and they respond no, you have the opportunity to tell them the benefits of networking and invite them into the group. If they respond yes, they tried it a couple of times, but saw no results, simply explain to them that it takes at least 7 points of contact before most people will do business. Tell them that if they were to attend a group on a regular basis, then they would realize the results that comes from the relationship building process. Then take the opportunity to invite them to the next meeting.
Even though this sounds like a lot of work, it really is not. In the end, your group the entire networking community benefits, as well as the business that gets involved. Business networking keeps business local. It builds communities by building the relationships in the community. It is through these relationships that we can fulfill our needs for our business and ourselves.
Have you invited an outsider to a meeting lately? Next time you think about giving a client a gift, give the gift of networking..