Get Networking: Suck it up, Walk In And Introduce Yourself

Are You Networking?

Some people are terrified of networking. I know I was in the beginning. Couldn’t let that stop me. To grow my business I knew I had to do something. I had to stop being passive and put myself where other business people were.

You may not be comfortable at first in a big group. I certainly was not. I could have started small but that’s not my style. Had to suck it up, walk in, stuck out my hand and introduce myself.


Where To Start

You can find plenty of networking groups. Many have a cost to join and this should be a factor.  It still about ROI. Be careful not to get too caught up in the price, though. Free group may not have an upfront cost but if the only people you networking with are those pinching pennies like you, how are they going to pay for your services? If business owners aren’t willing to invest in networking, are they actually willing to invest in what you offer?

Of course ‘Free’ isn’t necessarily bad. It can be a great place to start for a new business, but it also comes down to the members. One of my favorite groups is a free one.

Size matters too. Larger groups mean more opportunity to meet others. They also mean it will take longer to develop meaningful relationships. The best advice is to try a few. Even settle on a mix.


The Networking Routine

Most groups follow a similar routine.

You get to do your elevator speech, someone will give a short presentation and then there’s the ‘for the good of the group’ shout out testimonials. A little about yourself, a little education and a little praise.

Some groups require you to contribute by passing referrals with members. Here’s where I have a problem. As a new member, you don’t know anyone their business or their work ethic. You have to build a relationship to build trust. These groups are more transaction based rather than relationship based.


Get To Know The Members

One on One meetings are highly encouraged. These can be a great start if those involved don’t “sell” to each other. Use the time to get to know the person behind the business. Develop the relationship. Don’t expect business right out the gate.  This is an art form in itself and may not come naturally. It takes time.

I suggest looking up that person’s profile on line. Learn what you can about the business. That way you can dive deeper into their personality in a one to one. I don’t mean getting personal, but ask questions about what do they do in their spare time how did life bring them to the place where they are at now with the business.

What are their business “monsters”? This will lead you to learn how you can help and refer them. Sometimes people, especially newer business owners, may just want a sympatric ear. We have all been there in the beginning.

I have never gone to a networking meeting to make friends. It has always been business driven. Having said that, after keeping with the program, meeting and getting to know people, I have developed great business relationships AND lifelong friendships. Many have led to new adventures in both my personal and business lives.


Get Involved In The Community

In addition to the traditional leads or networking group, there are community or service based organizations. Whether you join your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary, getting involved and being a leader wherever you can is highly recommended. You may not get business right away, but you will develop your reputation and increase your brand visibility.


My Advice

Try out a few groups. Get a feel for the process. Find out what works for you. Then stick with it!

What’s been your networking experience? Your best advice?