The Networking Disconnect

I was at a big networking event with more than 500 people in the UK this summer, and the person who spoke before me asked the audience: “How many of you came here hoping to do some business–maybe make a sale?”  More than half the people in the audience raised their hands. He then asked, “How many of you are here hoping to buy something?”  No one raised a hand–not one single person! This is the networking disconnect.

If you are going to networking events hoping to sell something, you’re dreaming. Don’t confuse direct selling with networking. Effective networking is about developing relationships. I know, I know . . . there’s always someone out there who says, “But, Ivan, I’ve made a sale by attending a networking event!”  OK . . . I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen–it does.  I’m just saying it happens about as often as a solar eclipse. Face it, even a blind squirrel can find a nut. Any businessperson can stumble on some business at a networking meeting from time to time. However, when you have most of the people at an event trying to sell and virtually no one there to buy, you’re crazy if you think the odds are in your favor to “sell” at a networking event.

So why go?  You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about developing relationships with other business professionals. Sometimes you go to a networking event to increase your visibility, sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know, and sometimes you may even go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the VCP Process and not about closing deals.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “The Networking Disconnect

  1. Great article, Dr. Misner! I’m still amazed at the number of people I run into at networking events that still don’t understand it’s not a sales event; then, they’re disappointed when they “dont get anything”. Building relationships, connecting people to other people, helping solve someone’s problem at that event, and helping them find what they need – that’s the key points for me.

  2. Dr. Misner:

    How true, how true… and a bit sad, right? We need to help people understand that there is great joy to be found in connecting with people, getting to know them, building a relationship based on true knowledge of each other, and not the usual “platitudes” that people come up with to “pretend” to be interested…

    We need to start (or go back to…?) seeing each other as interesting human beings, as opposed to potential $$$$ entities…

    Sylvia Adler

  3. Dr. Misner,

    I really love your article. With these rather few words you have nailed the paradigm shift that has to take place before you can make networking work for you. I´m amazed to see so many people running around on different mixers trying to get the sale… but the beleive they are networking. I call this habit ” Networking to death” Greetings from Sweden

  4. I would definitely agree! I spent some time helping political candidates and when you go to meetings I wouldn’t run around telling everyone to vote for me; but I would build relationships. Relationships are much stronger then any sales pitch!

  5. I agree. What makes it worse (at least from my experience) is that many who show up to sell something don’t even have a good presentation. I enjoy getting to know people on a personal level.

  6. Are you a “networker” or are you a “Notable Networker”?
    Are you “NOT”working or “NET”working?
    Are you a “shark” or a “Dolphin”?
    Are you “hunting” or are you “farming”?

    Regardless of how you say it, it’s all the same. Building healthy relationships over the long term are at the heart of networking. Networking is still the most effective marketing tool around today- knowing how to use the tool is the key! Whether you are new to networking or a “seasoned pro”, following “The 10 Commandments of Networking a Mixer” (found in the great book “World’s Best Known Marketing Secret”)will turn you into a Master Networker!
    Thanks for this post Ivan- it’s a great reminder for eveyone!

    Shawn McCarthy BNI ED Ventura County, Ca.

  7. Hello Ivan, this is a great post with some good points to think about when defining what networking really means. I am finding that networking is a patient business all in of itself, but a worthy business.

    Joseph Young

  8. Great article. Network to collect new friends, to collaborate with peers in your industry and to help connect them. In time you will organically build a strong network of those who trust you and come to you as a resource to solve their problems. Solid business opportunities will flow authentically and you will find your sweet reward – doing business with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *