Home » Business » Why networking doesn’t work – you don’t invest in it and we’re not talking money.

Why networking doesn’t work – you don’t invest in it and we’re not talking money.

When I recently attended a large physical networking event, (you know the thing, loads of local business owners coming together ridiculously early in the morning over a greasy breakfast), I thought I’d take a different perspective. I found it fascinating to watch the dynamics, the twenty or so people, the body language and to listen to what was said and how.

I was there to talk about LinkedIn for 30 minutes (shocking I know!) but as always they go through the rituals of trying to sell something to someone else in the room in a one minute elevator pitch (who buys in an elevator?).

These were really interesting to listen to, everyone talked about what clients they wanted which varied from clear statements of the people they wanted to meet to a vague “I want paying clients” … don’t we all? Give us a clue.

I’d quite like next weeks winning lottery numbers … if you cannot explain what you want in ways that your audience can understand then you stand as much chance as winning the lottery.

No one will help you find a client if you cannot describe it in a way that everyone else understands otherwise no one else will be able to help you.

Having returned from the breakfast experience they proceeded to go through the networking rituals, referrals. I love this bit. Twenty plus people plus me, how many referrals? Eighteen.

How many were from the twenty plus people to each other? Zero, that’s right zip, nada, nowt, nothing. Those people there didn’t introduce anyone they knew to anyone else in the room, no investment in the other people there, all they were there for was them, help me, me, me, me – it was all about them.

So who talked about the people they can help, the way they help and introduced the 18 people to other people they knew? No surprises, me. I may not go to face to face networking very often, but I know how to do it well, do it professionally and make it work. Perhaps if you don’t you should talk to me?

No doubt the same people that came along to that session will be saying that networking doesn’t work as they haven’t had any referrals given to them. Now if your face to face or online networking isn’t working perhaps you ought to think  – do you describe what you want in language others understand? Do you try to help, refer or introduce other people to others?

Or do you just go, chirp up when asked and wait to be fed like a little bird? All take.

Try sharing the wealth of your relationships, introducing others for mutual benefit and “feed” the people you know, like and trust and if you don’t find it working in that group? Well find another group be it face to face or on LinkedIn groups.

What’s your experiences been?



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  • Mandy Brook

    Hi James this is SOOOO true! Good to see you on your soap box and on form trying to change the world..seems like you are doing a good job too! Well done you!

    • Thanks for the kind comment Mandy, as always trying to change the world one person at a time 🙂

      Best wishes,

      James

  • Shannon

    Why is it that everyone proseltyzing about networking has no end of excuses as to why it doesn’t work?

    Reminds me about what I read in some anti-gay marriage pamphlet; “Studies show that counselling to reform homosexuals has an 80% success rate when THE INDIVIDUAL IS SUFFICIENTLY COMMITTED to the process.”

    NOtice the out they left themselves? Didn’t work? Then you probably weren’t sufficiently committed.

    Same thing with networking. Networking doesn’t get you a job? Then you aren’t doing it right. How do you know when you’re doing it right? When it gets you a job!

    And you have hit the nail on the head with one of the reasons why it doesn’t work – because people don’t bother to refer others. What you don’t mention is what would be involved in trying to answer all those referral requests. Getting all those refferal requests, then trying to match them up with what opportunities you hear about (if any), or to refer them to someone who can…hell, who has time for that? You’d be “managing” your network 24/7.

    That, in the end is why networking doesn’t work. Because in order to “do it correctly”, it requires an unreasonable amount of commitment.

    • I think that you’re taking an unrealistic view on the managing aspect here Shannon. If that was the case none of us would have anytime to work, spend time with family or relax now would we?

      If you really know the people you know (critical), like (critical) and trust (essential) then you will find the time to help them. So you focus on the “good” people and you start the cycle of reciprocation.

      This is more about an approach, behaviour and outlook than the time involved.

      I see to many people spending every waking moment at networking “events” to meet “new people” rather than just networking and getting to know, like, trust and help the people they already know.

      I have a day job, a family and a network 🙂

      Thanks for the kind comment Shannon.

      James

      The Linked In Man