Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Networking made simple

I have talked elsewhere about The Networking Myth, the idea that networking groups bring you referrals, support, sales or any other return that you are looking for from your networking. In fact, rather than delivering the end result, networking groups feed your network, introducing you to new people with whom to develop the relationships on which you can build your success.

Understanding the role of networking groups makes it much easier to pick the right groups for you. Think of networking groups as a way of meeting people who can help you achieve your goals. Now you should ask yourself:

- What am I trying to achieve?
- How can other people help me?
- Who is best placed to help me?
- What do they need to know and do?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can evaluate the networking groups in your area, events you have been invited to attend and look at the online networks you are invited to join.

Are the members and other attendees well placed to help you achieve your goals? Do they have the experience, expertise or connections you are looking for? Does the format support you in educating them and asking for help? What will you have to bring to the group to reach your objective?

Viewed this way, networking becomes much simpler to understand. It is a means to an end, not the end itself.


  1. Nice post Andy: very useful as well to point out that, if you talk about organised and formalised networking (e.g. not the one you do at the pub or in the gym), different groups will target different types of members and will offer different benefits in return. If you push to the extreme even different groups of the same organisation will be different in what they can offer to you because their members will be different.

  2. This is good advice and they are indeed great questions to help you clarify whether a networking group could be right for you. I would add one more question:

    - Who do they need to know?

    The way that networking in such a group will work for you is by helping those people achieve their goals. Just joining the group will not be enough. To make sure it will work for you there are a few more questions you should ask yourself:
    - Do I like the people in the group?
    - Are they people that could add value to my existing client & trusted relationships?
    - Am I able to give the group meetings priority over other things in my schedule?
    - Am I willing to invest sufficient time outside the group meetings to really get to know these people and build profitable relationships?