Beyond the Networking Honeymoon

Be an outstanding member of the group.

They are the networking dabblers.

You see them at the local Chamber breakfast. Then you don’t. They show up at the lecture series. Then they’re gone. They join your referral passing group. Once again, they vanish.

They hear that a particular networking venue is the place to go to grow their business and they show up. At first they are excited to meet everyone. They go to all the events. They shake hands and pass out cards. Then the networking fatigue sets in. They don’t see the results they are hoping for. They eventually quit.

The problem is they haven’t committed to a long-term participation with the group or the event and they haven’t practiced the activities that will keep them engaged, interested, and (eventually) profitable. If this sounds at all familiar, here are a few ideas on how to keep it fresh.

  1. Show up. Seems kind of obvious, I know, but if you don’t show up for the events, you’ll never get the results you want. In fact…
  2. Commit to show up. Write all of the sessions on your calendar so you don’t “accidentally” schedule something else at the same time.
  3. Greet the strangers. Make a habit of looking for the unfamiliar face. Walk up and introduce yourself. Make them feel welcome. Set a goal to connect with at least one new person each time you go. Make it a game that both of you win.
  4. Meet the regulars. For the faces you see every time you attend, make a point of arranging to meet with them for coffee or lunch. You can’t establish strong connections five minutes at a time, once a month, in a crowded room.
  5. Seek out your Success Connectors. These are the folks who serve the same target market as you, but don’t compete with you directly. Hint: If you can’t find any of these, this might not be the best group for you.
  6. Volunteer. Become one of the people who help run the thing. Not only will it give you some added pressure to show up, but it also makes you a visible supporter of the group — always a good thing.
  7. Invite a guest. The more (appropriate) guests you invite, the more you’ve invested in the group and the more likely it is that you will continue to show up. Of course, it won’t hurt that the stronger the membership gets, the more you are likely to get out of being a part of the group.

Just like any other relationship, your connection with a group has the largest pay-off in the long run. Jumping from one to the other leaves you only with a bad reputation and poor results for your efforts. So, hang in there and find ways to add excitement and energy to the process.

 Photo by Marina del Castell

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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