Three business networking myths busted
Are you someone who thinks business networking isn’t for you? If so, you’re not alone. That’s because one of the most effective ways to build business and get referrals is also one of the most misunderstood.
If you’re one of those business networking sceptics, perhaps we can give you a fresh perspective by debunking three commonly accepted myths.
Myth 1 – Networking is all about attending events
If all you ever do is turn up at networking events, you’re robbing yourself of opportunities to develop the connections that are essential for successful business networking.
The most valuable networking activities don’t occur at those events your business association or networking group organises. They happen between events when you invest your time in building stronger relationships.
For example, once you know someone, you might
- Catch up with them and get to know them better. One well-proven way to start is with the simple question, “May I buy you a coffee and learn more about your business?”.
- Think about whether you can help them. For example, you might be able to introduce them to a potential client, or a supplier of a service that will solve a business problem they’ve mentioned. Remember, what goes around, comes around.
The takeaway – Although networking events are important, they are only one part of the process. What really matter are the conversations and interactions you have at other times.
Myth 2 – Networking is about constantly meeting new people
Of course, networking involves making new connections. But that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to go around like a hunter, always collecting more names to add to your contact database.
You also need to put your energies into strengthening the connections you already have. A person who knows and trust you is more likely give you business or refer clients to you. It can take weeks, months or years to build that level of trust. There are no shortcuts.
The takeaway – business networking is about cultivating relationships. It needs the mindset of a farmer, not a hunter.
Myth 3 – Networking means selling yourself to strangers
Yes, your networking efforts will eventually create opportunities to pitch yourself, your products or your services. But that’s not networking, it’s selling. It’s important to understand the difference.
When you first meet someone, aim to spend more time asking them questions about their business, products, services or industry sector than telling them about yours.
The takeaway – successful networkers focus more on learning about others than talking about themselves.