3 Factors for Networking Success You Won’t Find on Their Website

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~Leo Buscaglia

Have you got a good feel for your networking groups? Sometimes you join these groups and they just don’t feel right no matter how long you participate. Do you ever wonder why?

I was thinking about my daughter, Kaylie. She’s twelve now. Throughout her life, from the time she was a baby, she would experience the world through more than just her sight. She had to touch everything. I will admit, sometimes it’s kind of annoying, especially if you happen to have just cleaned that window that she is now running her hands over.

She particularly loves to touch things outside. She touches the leaves. She touches the flowers. She runs her hand along the brick wall. She has to feel what everything feels like. She needs to know the texture is. She needs to know the shape, the size. She needs to actually experience it. I could read from a reference manual to tell her all the details about a tree, but she wouldn’t know the tree until she felt it.

This idea ties into your networking success — especially when you consider the groups that you belong to or the regular events that you attend. There is information you can find out about those groups by going on their website or by talking to the person who organizes the event. You can find out whether or not the group has the kind of members that you want to meet. You can find out if they meet in a location that you can attend or they follow a schedule that works for your lifestyle. You can find out the costs involved — the membership dues, the event registration fees, or how much it costs to sponsor an event.

All of these things you can find out through a little research. You should! You need to know these factors to determine whether or not this group or this event is even a good candidate for you. Notice I said not a good “fit” but a good “candidate”. You have to go beyond that. You actually need to feel it. You need to experience it.

What are some of the things that you can only find out by experiencing them?

  • Are the people you want to meet really a part of this group? People join groups for different reasons. Sometimes they want to network. Sometimes they get discounts. Maybe they are there to maintain their professional certifications. Whatever the reason, they might not actually attend the events. You need to actually go and be there a time or two or three before you join to determine whether or not the people you want to meet actually show up.
  • Is it stale? Some groups, they do the same thing over and over and over and over again. That’s not necessarily bad. The problem is, if they never change, they’re never attracting new people. They’re never reviving their existing membership because no one wants to be doing the exact same thing over and over and over and over again. If all you’re doing is showing up at the same meeting every single time and the topics are the same every single time and the attendees are the same, every single time, it’s going to start getting boring pretty quickly. After a while you’ll start finding excuses not to go. You’ll start looking for different experiences.
    Back when I was a part of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, they had events that that were all over the place. Of course, they had their networking programs where everyone shows up at a hotel ballroom and enjoys a buffet lunch and a speaker, but they also had ones where you would go to the local speedway and watch a race. I went to one at a local college football game. I know there was another skeet shooting range. These different events might attract a different group of people whom you might not have met at the traditional luncheon.
  • How do you feel? As a newcomer, do you feel welcomed? This is important. If they didn’t make an effort to make you comfortable and start connecting you in your first meeting, then others will probably feel the same way. If visitors aren’t becoming members, the group is in danger of evaporating. If you show up at the events, and it’s always the exact same people over and over again, you’re not meeting anyone new. This may not be a good fit for you.

When you are looking for groups to join or even when you’re evaluating the groups in which you already participate, if they’re not feeling right, it may be because while they look right on paper, the “feel” is wrong. Go and experience your groups with a new mindset — to figure out whether this is a good feel and a good fit for you. You might find that you’re a little bit more successful in the long run.

Photo from pxfuel.com

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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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