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

Breakfast referral networking and gaining trust

When I started out running my own business I was lucky enough to be recommended to join BNI. In terms of business, it was not a huge success for me mainly due to local reasons, but it was great training for much more successful breakfast networking later; successful because I have met great people and won more business.

Networking for business involves getting to know other business owners and gaining their trust. We know that if we can help others to find business we will get referrals back. It is not always something that works instantly. We may have to wait for business to come to us because gaining trust takes time. Once we are part of someone’s network, they will think of us when talking to people they know who need a product or service we can provide, and they will refer us only when they have learned to trust us not to embarrass them.

Breakfast groups have the potential to become very tight-knit with true bonds between the members meeting every week. As we learned in BNI, attendance is important to gain that trust, and so it should be.

Why wouldn’t we want to have a weekly meeting with our sales team, for the breakfast referral group is our sales team? It is the most important meeting of the week and we should arrange our other appointments with clients and prospects around attending our breakfast meeting.

If attendance once a week at your breakfast meeting is not that important to you, you just don’t get it. But you do, don’t you? What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

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