Some people have said I network like a woman possessed. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do attend a LOT of business functions. My goal is to meet at least one or two people at each event with whom I’ll follow up to schedule a meeting so I can test the viability of building a mutually beneficial relationship. I’m really good at following up, but I’m starting to see a gap in what many people I meet say and what they do (or don’t do).
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the importance of giving before receiving, and I always try to do that. But I’m starting to get worn out, so I’m getting much more strategic about who I follow up with, especially in general networking situations.
Over the past couple of weeks I met lots of people at different events. Here’s a few of them:
- A marketing consulting firm owner. During our conversation I mentioned that I write a management article for an on-line edition of a business journal. She responded she really wanted to write about marketing. I told her I could connect her with my editor. We exchanged cards and said, “Let’s stay in touch.” It’s been five days and I haven’t heard a peep from her.
- A training consultant. I’ve met this person before at several different events. When he heard I was working with attorneys and accountants on business development coaching, he said, “We need to talk about how we can work on this together.” “Ummm, not so much,” was my unspoken response. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard a peep from him.
- A consultant I’ve known for a while. She confided that she’s having challenges staying focused on her marketing efforts and admitted she needed help. I offered to spend a couple of hours with her, even though I know it won’t be a paid gig, because she and I have known each other for a long time and she’s a great cheerleader for me. It’s been 5 days and I haven’t heard a peep from her.
- A young woman looking for a job referred to me by an acquaintance. Not only did I spend a couple of hours meeting with this young lady and giving her job search tips, I also reviewed her resume and met with her for another hour a couple of weeks ago to give her some additional advice. During that meeting, I mentioned I could connect her with a couple of people. That was more than two weeks ago and I haven’t heard a peep from her.
I mention these because, in the past, I would have immediately reached out to every one of them. But what I’ve finally realized is that, while I recognize I can do something for these people, I’m not at all sure what any of them can really do for me. That may sound selfish, but I am not, after all, a nonprofit organization. I spend time and money building my network of mutually beneficial connections with the goal of getting referrals and clients. While I truly enjoy helping people and I’m passionate about what I do, I still want to show a profit at the end of the year. If I don’t, I’m simply pursuing a subsidized hobby.
What I don’t understand is that each of these people knows I can do something for them, yet they still haven’t followed up with me. And I bet they’d be the first ones to talk about how networking doesn’t work.
So I’m learning how to fold ‘em … if I offer something and it’s not accepted, I’m done with the game. I won’t beg someone to take something I‘ve offered.
The moral of this story is: Don’t be one of those people. You put your own credibility on the line if someone offers you something and you don’t follow up within 48 hours. They just might fold on you.