Why Traditional Networking is a Waste of Time

Networking is one of the most cost-effective and reliable methods of growing your business. The problem is that many people approach traditional networking very tactically and measure success by the amount of business cards they collect or the number of people they connect with on social media.  Then they move too quickly into a sales process and wonder why people aren’t returning their calls. Maybe that sounds like a good approach to you, but after going to hundreds of networking events and interacting extensively on social media, I can tell you this just isn’t enough and you are wasting your time.

To be truly effective, networking should be managed like a strategic business activity. With so many things competing for your attention, it is so easy to get distracted. To be successful,  it is necessary to have a plan to approach networking in a way that maximizes ensure results. People do better when they have a structured process to follow and this also applies to networking.

Strategic Business Networking

Boost your networking success by developing a networking process for sustainable success.
Photo courtesy of The Tax Haven

To boost your networking success, you need to start by having networking goals and defining what you want to accomplish with your networking efforts. This alone will help you clarify what networking events you should attend and where on social media you should be hanging out. You can’t do everything, so focusing your efforts will help you to maximize your time and money that you spend on networking activities.

Next you need to have a powerful, unique and memorable personal brand so you stand out from all the other networkers.  Networking involves making connections with others and having a polished lasting impression in person as well as on your website and on social media is critical to differentiate you from your competitors. What makes you different? Why do your clients and customers like working with you or using your product? Why should someone use your business over another one? This is the type of information you need to convey in your marketing message.

Now, you need to develop your networking strategy based on your business objectives so you have a a better chance of meeting the right people and are spending your time in the right places. An effective networking process involves meeting people in person and online and building meaningful and profitable relationships through regular engagement with your connections. A relationship can begin in person, on the phone, via your website, through social media, any number of ways and your networking strategy needs to encompass those activities that will give you the best chances of forming connections with the right people who are essential to your business growth.

Many people drop the ball with the follow-up. Not only is having a follow-up strategy critical, this action is surprisingly often overlooked. The simple act of just sending a thank-you note will set you apart, but also developing a process to continue to engage with your connections will increase the effectiveness of your networking.

Finally you should  measure your progress so you are not wasting your time. If you are like most business people,  you are maxed out! You run out of time daily and get caught up in all kinds of chaos during your work day. Networking is important, but only if you are able to do it effectively. The only way to know if it is working for you is to evaluate your progress and determine if the time and investments you are making on networking is paying off with more sales. This is something that needs to be measured over time because it takes time to build meaningful and profitable relationships.

For more information about strategic networking and to learn about a cool new toolkit that can help you build a powerful networking strategy, check out www.networkprotoolkit.com. If you email me at sjohnson@bdpromarketing.com after purchase and mention this blog post, I will give you a 20% rebate!

Photo courtesy of The Tax Haven

9 Comments

  • Diane Bianchi (@Diane_Bianchi)

    What a great article! I totally agree that what is considered “traditional networking” does not work and that true networking is all about building and nurturing relationships. I belong to a wonderful networking group in my area and I fell that every member of it is a trusted friend, and because of that I have no hesitation in referring people to them.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    I like your use of the phrase building and nurturing. It is important to nurture your network for networking to be truly effective.

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  • Carol Crandall

    I can believe that traditional networking is dead for the marketing professional, as networking is mainly a sales tool. But people engaged in work that requires long term commitment, risk, and performance do not trust superficial networking activity- either digitally or the old fashioned way- because there needs to be an experience of working together to develop the trust needed to generate a referral. For this reason, networking sites like Linked In provide a great way to keep in touch with old business contacts, but doesn’t necessarily create new ones. I am frequently invited to add individuals I don’t know to my contact list, and I always decline. There is not enough “reality” to the contact to do so, and adding people to my contact list that are not personally tested by me compromises the integrity of my network.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Carol, you are right, there is a definite difference between superficial networking and true networking that requires long term commitment. To network effectively requires time and real effort in building those meaningful relationships. I think that is also true for marketing professionals especially if they have client relationships that are critical for their business growth. This would perhaps be less true for products that are more transactional in nature and based on quantity. Thanks for your comments!

  • Alexandra Chalk (@Achalk01)

    GREAT article! Networking today is more about the reltionship and less about the “contact”. I am fortunate to have built a fantastic network of folks, though they trust me to only refer folks to them that I have vetted and that I trust. That trust extends both ways. I enjoy what I do and I enjoy building relationships. If someone is in Marketing or is “Networking” for $$ or contacts, it shows – quickly. Today, you need to have a passion for what you said in your article – building and nurturing relationships – and to also be genuine and have integrity with it cannot be faked. I’m going to pass this on to my folks. Again – GREAT article!

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Alexandra, thanks so much for the comments and for passing this article along to others. I am so glad you found the information valuable and I appreciate your passion for building meaningful relationships. You sound like a very credible and experienced networker! No wonder it has been working for you and resulting in more business. I wish you continued success!

  • Jennifer Ohrman

    Nice article! With nearly 2 decades of ‘practice’ and observation as an active ‘networker’, I can’t agree more that effective networking is all about collaborative connecting…what has worked for me is learning to meet people where they are, ask good questions that tell me wonderful things about the people I meet, and genuinely begin to build collaborative relationships when there has been a mutual energetic connection! This has become such a fun and joyful process that I trust completely because it works and allows me to focus on quality over quantity…and as you well put, the fortune is TRULY in the follow up, yet this skill is one that I see lacking in many…an so worthwhile to take the time to master! Thanks for a great article!

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Jen, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. You truly understand how to be effective at networking and how to connect with people in a genuine way. That makes all the difference. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and contributing your insights and experiences.

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