July 1, 2014 | By:

Skin in the Game

When networking, it is always a good idea to remember what true networking is all about: the success of others. If you enter into any networking with this one idea in mind, you will become successful yourself. Why the success of others? Anyone can hobnob and hand out their card. A lot of people are good at following up on a networking event with emails and phone calls, but what real connection have you made with that person?

We hear plenty of stories about failed networking, and have experienced it ourselves over the years. But why does networking fail? Why after all those networking events, chamber events, happy hours does your name not stick in the front of everyone’s mind that you meet? It’s true that you can meet tons of people at these who are doing business every day, and may need your help, but then there is nothing afterward.

This brings to mind the story of the struggling business coach. She was just getting started on her own but was an expert in her field with years of experience with a larger company. She had all the right tools and was ready to go out and make a name for herself. The business coach began attending every networking event she could fit on her calendar. She had the goal of meeting important people, and maximizing the connections she made. As she attended events, she would learn names and repeat them, she had a firm handshake, she made eye contact, and she stirred up some amazing conversations. The biggest thing she felt that she did that others did not was following up with email and calls.

Although the business coach did all these things, she never really felt networking was increasing her business. She was attending a lot of events, and filling a lot of calendar time with little result. One day, her friend asked her, “What have you been doing for others?” This caused her to stop and think. She kept expecting people to purchase her product, to buy from her, to believe in her, but she hadn’t really been doing any preliminary work. Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone do free work, however it is important that if you want others to engage you, they need to be truly engaged themselves. Our fledgling business coach started offering free first meeting consultations. In these meetings, she listened, took notes, and provided ideas, thoughts on how she could help the business, and what her services could do. She began to see a dramatic increase in engagement from others she was meeting at this point. Sales followed.

So, what you need to ask yourself is not, “Why does no one buy from me through my networking?”, and instead ask yourself, “Why would someone buy from me through networking if I have not put some skin in the game?”

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