Just what is the purpose of networking? I had a discussion about this recently with someone who leads a networking group.
What it’s not is a sales appointment. I’m always ready to make a sale, but you cannot judge a networking opportunity by how much money in sales you walk away with. I know far too many people who left networking groups because they didn’t have any sales.
Networking is about making connections—not just for new customers, but for your own customers. I want to be more than the consultant (usually read “salesperson”) for my company. Being able to point my customers to a trustworthy person in insurance, construction, or life-coaching can raise the perception of me to that of a person with answers.
Don’t get me wrong, Most of the networking I’ve done has led at some point to sales. For instance, in one group I met a total of about 30 people through the meetings (more at events). Of those three have become repeat customers; one’s wife became a host. The contacts I met there generated well over $1,000 in sales before the group disbanded.
That didn’t happen overnight. It took attending the meetings, engaging with the other members, and fully participating in the group. Yes, you can attend a networking group and determine in one or two meetings that this isn’t a group you connect with. That’s fine. What you shouldn’t do is attend one or two meetings and quit because you didn’t sell anything.
We hear a lot about the importance of income-generating activities. They’re really important. But, you can’t think of networking as non-income-generating just because they don’t generate immediate income. You need to take a long-term view. And, you need to really consider the purpose of networking—forming a large network of contacts and resources.