Do I have your attention?

Is the statement below correct? All the BNI meetings, the Chamber of Commerce luncheons, the 5 to 7 meet and greets? How is it possible that they are a waste of time. They have been the foundation of sales for many, many years. Well the answer is simple. The vast majority of networking events provide attendees an opportunity to air kiss all the women, high five all the men and then post it all to Instagram. But do they real create and development solid long term business relationships?

I have been in the sales business for 39 years and NEVER made a sale from a networking event. What typically happens is that partially inebriated business types tell you how much they want your product or service and NEVER follow up. Take a look in retrospect at the last 3 networking events that you attended. Did you make a sale? Did anyone ever follow up? Did you?

I went to a charitable event recently and was surrounded by alleged high level business types. You know, the ones with the fancy suits and cuff links and the outlandish dresses with heels that added 6 inches. It’s very fake and ostentatious and I have never felt comfortable in those surroundings.

Just google networking is a waste of time and see articles from Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Inc. that concur with my theory. I know that many will argue with me on this subject but it goes deeper than just networking. What about LinkedIn? Well I have over 5,000 bona fide connects and recently posted that we were looking for sales people at one of my radio stations. Did I get one response? No.

For many people, networking events are ineffective because:

  • You don’t really understand what networking is. It’s about exchanging of value, like a piece of content or referral, and not just a business card.
  • You’re focused on selling rather than building a relationship.
  • You don’t follow-up with new acquaintances.
  • You’re attending the wrong types of networking events.
  • You attend networking events with the wrong mindset – you may view it as a work-related task or something that you really don’t want to do.

What to do instead? Cultivate long term one on one relationships. They are easier to initiate through referrals or straight up phone calls and they last much longer.

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