Questions to Ask To Get The Most Out Of Networking
Networking groups are a powerful way for business owners and sales professionals to connect, build relationships and grow their bottom line. The trick can be deciding WHICH group or groups to join. One group may be all you have time to attend. Maybe you’re looking at different parts of town. Regardless of how many you plan to attend, the audience they reach, when they meet, attendance requirement or cost, there are 4 key questions to ask yourself when you’re considering networking groups.
Are you ready?
This may seem obvious, but networking requires a commitment. Many groups have strict attendance requirements. Even if attendance is not mandatory, the smart move is showing up regularly. Networking is about connecting people. While groups may use social media and websites to connect members, there is no substitute for showing up. People still want, even need, an in person connection. If you cannot commit the time, consider if joining is right for you (and the group) or, better still, make it a point to create the time.
It’s not just the time. Make sure you are mentally committed to getting the most out of networking. Much of the success you’ll find in networking depends on your attitude and how positive you are about making connections which provide real value.
And when you’ve committed:
Is the climate of the group welcoming?
Businesses have a corporate culture. Networking groups are similar. Is there someone there to make you feel comfortable your first time visiting? Do members appear inviting? Do they approach others or wait to be approached? Is everyone on their smartphones or talking to others? What is the ‘feel’ of the room? Do members look happy?
The point of networking is to develop relationships. This becomes more difficult when members are off in their own space, not open or uninviting.
Does the format help me make connections?
The answer to this question is going to be crucial to your success. The goal of ANY networking group should be to connect members to each other. This is partly about driving business between members, but more importantly, about bringing together those who could help each other. Groups should be working to create strong referral partnerships. This could be a construction contractor and a roofer, social media and website development, an acupuncturist and energy healers.
This does not happen without a format geared toward making connections. What is that format? Elevator speeches, table conversations, team building exercises – all of these can be ways to facilitate connections. Make sure you know what format is used and if you are comfortable.
Bonus Tip: Find out if there is time for open networking before or after the structured time. This is an opportune time to work the room and meet new people.
Do leaders have a mission and a vision?
Successful networking groups have much in common with successful businesses. One of those is having a solid mission and vision. As it’s hard to direct a boat without a properly charted course, it’s difficult to have consistent results without a mission and vision.
Have you ever gone to a networking group and thought things seemed haphazard and disorganized? A clear mission and vision statement helps the organization stay on track, the benefit of its members. It also shows they care about you, your success, and the success of each group member.
At The In Team, our mission is to connect people through intentional relationships. Our vision is for The In Team and our members is to become the premier resource for business referrals in our local community.
A final piece of advice
I strongly encourage you to check out several networking groups around you, see what each has to offer and decide for yourself which will be the best fit for you.