Avoid Networking Fatigue

I’m going to share a secret that may sound counterintuitive: you can actually network TOO much.

What??? The Founder of BNI®, the world’s largest networking organization, says you can network TOO MUCH?

Yep. That’s right.

Now you may be wondering, “How can that be?” Well, let me tell you a little story.

Years ago, when I was traveling through the midwestern U.S., I heard people talking about a woman they referred to as the Queen of Networking. She was known as the consummate networker. She had hundreds, perhaps thousands of contacts, which gave her a broad network of people from all different walks of life. She was well known in her community as the go-to person for anything that anybody needed. Those who had seen her said she was at every networking event and managed to talk to each person in the room.

It was no surprise that she and I ended up at the same event one evening. She pulled me aside to talk. She seemed anxious and upset, and I wondered why the Queen was so distraught. Then she revealed something unexpected. “Ivan,” she said, “I know everyone keeps calling me the Queen of Networking, but I’m not seeing any increase in business whatsoever!” She said that her networking efforts weren’t producing results for her. She continued to tell me about all the groups that she went to, all the people she met, how she had made very good contacts, but… she wasn’t getting any solid business from all her efforts.

Shocked, I asked her how many events she was attending each week. She replied, “Between five and ten a week.” Then I was really shocked! That was her problem–she was spreading herself too thin!

Think about the VCP Process® – Visibility leads to Credibility which leads to Profitability. She wasn’t seeing real results, even with her obvious talent for making contacts and gaining visibility, because she never got to the heart of what business networking is all about – building relationships.  She was focused so heavily on visibility that she had lost sight of the credibility part.

She was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t learning how to actually “work” the business networks she had created. She neglected to build meaningful relationships with people and develop credibility with them; and you can’t get to profitability without credibility.

Activity is Not an Accomplishment

She had the same problem that many businesspeople have: when it comes to their networking efforts, they view “activity” as an “accomplishment”. This usually results in having a network that is a mile wide, but only an inch deep. You have to take the next, and most important, step with the people in a wide-reaching network. You must devote the time to develop the kind of rapport with some of them that allows them to get to know, like, and trust you, and want to pass business referrals to you.

Many professionals, full of energy and excitement, attend lots of networking meetings. Their lack of results is not due to a lack of activity, effort, or enthusiasm about getting out there and meeting new people. The problem is they are constantly going here and going there, and they never stop long enough to invest the necessary time to establish the kind of long-term roots that can lead to an ongoing, reciprocal referral relationship.

I told the Queen, “If your network is a mile long but only an inch deep, you’ll never have a powerful network,” I suggested that she do more one-to-one meetings with potential referral partners and focus on building mutually beneficial relationships to establish her credibility in the community.

The moral of this story? Don’t try to be the “Queen” or “King” of networking. If you focus solely on making as many contacts as possible, constantly being on the go, and trying to keep track of hundreds of people you don’t really know, networking fatigue is sure to follow.

Instead, focus your business networking efforts on building relationships. You’ll see an improvement in referrals, and you will also establish deeper credibility within your network.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Avoid Networking Fatigue

  1. The problem is mostly business people are try to sell him at first sight i think so. Build meaningful relationship first and show genuine interest to held them them automatically we got businesses from our network.

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