When I first started our organization I was told, “you need to be in a networking group.” I heard quotes like, “your network determines your net worth.” So I did what every good little entrepreneur started doing, networking.
I Googled “Neworking” & here was the top result:
Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity.
Most networking is about getting business
I will admit. I did this wrong. I entered into the networking thinking, “how can I get a lead, I’ve got a family to feed.” This isn’t ALL bad but a lot of it is. The relationships that I was entering into were forced and no fun. It was all about a “social network whose reason for existing is business activity.”
After a year of “trying” to network and failing, I hated it. Again, I was the problem. I did this wrong and I watched a lot of people enter relationships to get business and ultimately kill the relationship.
Here is where people mess up with organized networking:
1. Trying to build a big network
This is just dumb. After building 3 businesses from scratch, I’ve learned that you don’t need a BIG network, you just need real friends. Networking is about business, friendship is about life. I enjoy doing life with people more than anything. Here is what my learning has been…
The people you do life with will send you more business than ANY business relationship
Friends trump networks.
2. Always seeking “the lead”
Most networking meetings were about “the lead” instead of relationships. Again, these meetings aren’t bad, they just aren’t for me. I want to go to meetings with people I love and if synergy happens, so be it. Weekly or monthly lead sharing is about a result, I like doing relationships.
3. People get mad at you
Especially in the church space, if you talk to companies that AREN’T in your networking group, people get mad. I don’t understand this. I can’t fathom it. This is leading out of fear and paranoia. This is why I prefer developing friendships with a few verses a network with many… If you are true friends with someone, you don’t have to “control” who they talk too. You will lead out trust, not suspicion.
I work in the church space and honestly it’s ridiculous how companies treat one another. I was at dinner the other night and a guy told me about how he wrote about our company GivingRocket.com on his blog & a capital campaign company leader got mad. That is laughable.
Friends don’t act like this.
So what should you do if you are just starting out? I think you should serve your clients and meet with people to become their friends. Treat everyone you meet like they could be your best friend one day. Drop the shenanigans & start loving people well!
What are your thoughts on networking?