Should you be networking more?

Networking  is often quoted as the number one lead generation mechanism for small businesses and frequently appears in lists of, so-called, free marketing activity. So, should you be doing more of it?

 I went to a very well attended event a couple of weeks ago and, as I walked into the room of some 200 people, I soon realised I had very little chance of tracking down those people I had hoped to meet. I was approached by someone wielding an A3 presenter who, without asking me a single question, tried to sell me something I had no need of. I squeezed round the exhibition space apologising for bumping over-sized handbags with similarly stressed looking individuals; to be greeted by stall holders intent on making snap decision about whether I would be of any use to them!

Hadn’t they read the books? Networking is about building relationships, it involves asking questions and finding mutual ground; it’s not about selling.  It’s not free either, it takes time and effort before, during and after the actual event and we all know that time is  money.

Networking is like any other marketing activity; it has its own protocol, a set of rules by which a good  networker operates. It is undoubtedly a brilliant tool for business generation when used properly and with the planning and discipline you would afford any other marketing activity.

There are lots of books, articles and blogs about networking. Do yourself a favour and try reading one like FT Guide to Business Networking before embarking on your next campaign.

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