Networking Clubs: Build Trust before Profits
By Karen Hope
I went to a networking club as a visitor where the speaker asked, “How many of you are here to sell?” Everyone’s hand went up. Then he asked, “How many of you are here to buy?” No one’s hand went up. A lady who was also a visitor leaned over to quietly ask me, “If no one’s buying, what’s the point in coming?”
I had to think about it for a minute. I realized that if you visit a networking club expecting to sell your product or service that day you will be disappointed and likely never return. Typically people who join networking clubs are not there to buy or sell in the short term. They are there to build relationships that might result in business over the long term.
The “Power of Networking” comes 100% from relationship building. To profit from a networking club, you need to build trust within the membership. Club members are more likely to give and/or refer those people whom they know and trust versus someone they have just met.
New business opportunities often come from outside a network – from the people who are connected to the club members. Let’s say every person at a networking club knows 200 people (just a guess). If there are 20 club members, the club as a whole could become the eyes and ears for 4,000 people.
If you really want to get the most mileage out of networking, my advice is to pick one or two clubs that interest you. Stay with the group for at least a year and get to know people. Make sure you find ways to demonstrate that you are good at what you do and/or sell. Offer industry related educational news, advice and tips that people might appreciate.
Most importantly, look for ways to bring opportunity to others in the club. Ask others how you can help them meet their goals. If possible, become a buyer and give some of your business to the club. When you show support for the group, they are more than likely to reciprocate. Over time, people are buying and selling, making networking a worthwhile marketing strategy.