You never know do you? You network like crazy, go to meetings and events, engage in conversations, exchange cards and then ... what happens?
Sometimes the networking ball goes into play and there is ongoing dialogue, perhaps a few phone calls or in-person meetings and at some point when understanding, trust and respect are earned introductions might start to flow.
But then there are all of the other times when the networking ball is dropped and follow-up seems to stall. There's radio silence and after one or two attempts to break through you simply back off.
I don't understand it.
As a business owner for the past 30 years I strongly believe in the power of networking. It has been one of the key components in my sales efforts and business development and has helped me to thrive and grow over all of these years.
With that being said I find it totally confusing when people take the time and trouble to engage in networking endeavors and then participate in little or no follow-up.
Let's face it: nothing really happens at networking meetings or events. You share a sound bite, a bit of information to whet the whistle of the person to whom you are speaking. You plant a seed, create an impression and what happens next is where the real networking begins.
Leads and introductions are exchanged ONLY when there is trust and trust is not born in a 30-second sound bite.
So here are my suggestions:
Attend as many networking events and meetings as makes sense for your schedule and business goals BUT only if you plan to follow-up and follow-through afterwards.
Don't play "hard to get." Timing counts. Don't wait for weeks to go by before reaching out or being responsive to networking introductions. People's memories get hazy very quickly and besides, taking quick action can help you to make a good first impression.
You don't have to follow-up with "everyone" that you meet at an event or a meeting but remember just because a person doesn't "seem like" they will be a good contact doesn't mean that there isn't any gold to be mined. You don't know their contacts, clients, friends or family and your most important prospect might just be their best friend.