Many professionals are members or attendees of regularly occurring networking groups.  While recurring events can create camaraderie and develop relationships, seeing all the same people can kill your business. This does not mean all networking groups are bad.  The key is to evaluate the purpose of your attendance, the value you contribute and the value you receive when you attend.  Time is your most limited resource.  If you’re investing it in a networking activity, you must be sure there are opportunities.

It’s easy to delude yourself into believing that a new group is the answer when an old one becomes stagnant.  The problem is you’re often invited to the new group by someone in your old group.  The attendees end up being many of the same people.  Seeing all the same people kills your business because:

 

It Drains Your Energy.

Everyone in the room already knows all about your business.  They’ve heard your elevator speech.  They know who is in your target market.  If they haven’t already become your client they probably never will.  You go to the event excited to find new business, but leave frustrated and disappointed because no one said they needed your product or offered to connect you to a prospect.  Your energy tanks and you don’t do the productive things you planned for the day.  Even though this continues to happen, you just keep attending.  Why?

  1.  You feel you “have to” network and don’t know where else to go.
  2.  You’re loyal to the others who are there.
  3.  You don’t want to offend the other members and the good relationships you have developed.

Strong, mutually beneficial relationships will continue to thrive outside the official networking group if you invest the time in continuing to nurture them.  If a relationship is offended because you make a decision that is good for your business, you need to re-evaluate it.

 

Your Confidence Plummets.

The frustration that comes because you see no sales or growth from your networking activities negatively affects your confidence.  When this happens you stop doing tCloseup portrait middle aged man looking shocked scared trying to protect himself from unpleasant situation dodge isolated grey wall background. Negative emotion face expression feeling reactionhe things that made you successful in the first place and start looking for the quick sale or quick fix.  These practices seep into other parts of your business and become toxic.

 

You Become Desperate and “Pushy.”

Attempting to justify the time investment in your networking, you start chasing people who aren’t good prospects.  Your activities become desperate, aggressive and pushy because you just “have” to see some results.  People start to avoid you. Those with whom you had strong relationships pull away because you’re not behaving like the person they know, like and trust.  When you do get a lead it’s often no stronger than just picking a name out of the old fashioned phone book.  The people in your group just want you to leave them alone!

 

The Solution Starts with YOU!
When was the last time you invited someone to a networking activity?   If you’re patting yourself on the back because you have, don’t be too quick to congratulate yourself.  Just as important, if not more so is, did they come?  You can invite other professionals all day long, but unless they participate you’re not making progress.

The only way to increase the attendance and expand the network is to clearly communicate to others the value of investing their time to come.  If you aren’t able to do this, it’s likely you don’t see the value yourself.

Look at each of your networking activities and ask yourself these four questions:

  1.    What is the value of the activity or group to you and to others?
  2.    Are the other expected attendees successful in their businesses or careers?
  3.    In a recurring group, are the members intentional in developing mutually beneficial relationships?
  4.    In a recurring group, do the members look for opportunities to connect each other with others outside the group?

If the answer to #2, #3 or #4 is, “No.”, why are you giving it your time?