Networking and leading a horse to water

I had occasion this past week to contact a visitor to our breakfast networking group we have not seen for a month or so to find out why we had not seen him recently. His business would have fitted in very well with our current strong team of businesses.

In response I had an email which in part the visitor said “I am not sure if or when I will be coming back, I enjoyed the people there and meeting up, but if I am honest (and this is meant in a positive way) I could not see the benefit of talking about what I did every week to the same people; I know there are sometimes some new faces but in the main I knew what everyone did and they knew what I did.”

Well, yes, my friend. We know what you do. However, we don’t really know you. You seem to be a good guy, but if we refer our clients and friends to you, can you be trusted to do a good job? Are you reliable? Do we know you will not embarrass us? Of course, we have to admit that we as a networking group may have failed if we did not convey through education what makes a good networker, but on the other hand, you rushed to judgment and didn’t give us a chance in your couple of visits.

As serious networkers, we do not wish to teach our grandmothers etc. and be patronizing but should we talk about the essence of networking every week for the benefit of the visitors? Maybe we should, and perhaps I have made assumptions that people know why they are there. I know why I do it, and that is because I have built a trusted team of advocates whom I can advocate myself when I see an opportunity for their businesses to make a sale. Maybe stridency is needed in networking evangelism at the risk of causing some discomfort.

What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

Related post:

Breakfast referral networking and gaining trust



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