A common frustration for delegates is that they feel attending networking events is too time-consuming because they do not produce instant results. If we lived in a perfect world, the day after attending a networking event, we would be flooded with countless sales enquiries. In the real world, however, this does not happen and if your phone does not ring the very next day, naturally you might lose the motivation to continue.
We inject so much effort when networking and it takes a lot of energy to walk the room striking up conversations, so if results aren’t always immediate we can feel like we are just wasting our time. But remember the adage “the more you put in, the more you get out”. Hard work does truly pay off. Think about it. Even Virgin did not become successful over night.
To become successful at networking your focus should not be on driving sales as such, but on driving new relationships. It is important to understand that we are living in a world where “people buy from people” therefore if you attend a networking event with the intention only to attract sales, you will forever feel agitated and risk becoming de-motivated. It is essential to understand early, that networking is the long term activity of nurturing relationships over time.
A useful tactic to help get you motivated is to make a list of networking groups in your area. Select those that meet your needs and are relevant to your industry, then become a member. Try to commit by attending weekly or monthly. Add the dates to your diary or better still, to your smart phone and create an alarm to alert you 48 hours before each event.
Another tip is to invite a colleague with you next time you attend a networking event. You will feel a commitment to attend because you have promised your colleague and this will automatically increase your motivation.
Do you have networking goals? If not you need them. Setting them is a time-honoured and useful method to keep you motivated. Before you attend your next networking event ask yourself why you are doing so and what you want to achieve. Then set three specific goals for that day’s event accordingly. Regardless of the actual outcome of the event, you will feel that you have achieved something because you have a plan.
Think creatively when goal-setting because there are many benefits to be had from networking, which, though not always sales orientated, will boost your motivation as well as your market presence.
Here are a few examples that I have tried and tested:
You may be searching for a new job role and, as many new roles today are no longer publicly advertised in the traditional way, you can network directly with HR delegates to be informed about vacancies.
Increasing brand awareness and raising your profile are excellent goals as just being seen at events will increase your network base. You will be surprised how many small networking communities there are. It is very likely that you will bump into familiar faces and, importantly, yours will also become more familiar.
You might be in need of finding a new supplier of a service such as financial planning or you may need to consult a specialist lawyer or require IT support. Finding any of these can become a goal. You can also save time sourcing these types of contacts by networking instead of using the less personal yellow pages or by searching the internet.
Perhaps you have strategic plans to create a new joint venture. Compared to other marketing activities, attending networking events is a great way to create new working relationships face-to-face and of finding new business partners.
Some fellow delegates can be gatekeepers who can open many doors for you because they are key persons with authority. They are decision makers, budget-holders or operating within a particular industry that you are trying to reach, which only networking can help you enter.
One of your ever present goals, and an important one, should be to have fun. This is so easily forgotten. With this in mind, as well as an open and patient approach, you will surely see the desired results from attending networking events.
Bella Rareworld, Managing Director of BellaNetworking Events, provides strategic networking solutions by managing every stage of a company’s networking life cycle to fit their marketing strategy. Go to www.bellanetworking.com, email her at email@example.com or call 0845 269 8036. Bella Rareworld has over 70 testimonials on Linkedin on http://www.linkedin.com/in/rareworld For BellaNetworking Training dates:http://bellatrainingdates.eventbrite.com/ You can also follow her on twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/BellaNetworking