Misconceptions about networking are widespread, even among business professionals. Before you can commit yourself to the task of building a healthy network, you probably need to overcome at least one of these three big lies about networking.
I can’t network if I’m not an outgoing person.
There are many techniques that can make the process a whole lot easier. For example, volunteering to be an ambassador or visitor host for a local business networking event can be a great way to get involved without feeling out of place.
When you have guests at your house or office, what do you do? You engage them; make them feel comfortable; you offer them something to drink. What you don’t do is stand by yourself sulking about how you hate meeting new people. By serving as a visitor host at your local chamber event, you effectively become the host of the party. Try it, you’ll find it much easier to meet and talk to new people.
The person-to-person referral business is old-fashioned.
Today, most people do business on a larger scale, over a broader customer base and geographic area. The personal connections of the old-style community and the trust that went with them is mostly gone. That’s why a system for generating referrals among a group of professionals who trust one another is so important, and it’s why referral networking is not only the way of the past but the wave of the future. It’s a cost-effective strategy with a long-term payoff. It’s where business marketing is going, and it’s where you need to go if you’re going to stay in the game.
Networking is not hard science. Its return on investment can’t be measured.
I once suggested to the dean of a large university that the business curriculum should include courses in networking. His response, “My professors would never teach that material here. It’s all soft science.”
Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most are made up of professors who’ve never owned a business. Almost everything they know about running a business they learned from books and consulting.
Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools with vision, foresight, and the ability to act swiftly (the way business professors say businesses should act) will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of a strong network and are willing to put in the time it takes to develop fruitful connections. If any of these three big lies are holding you back, it’s time to correct it with the tips provided and watch your business grow.