Recently I was talking with a colleague, I’ll call him Larry, who wondered why he was not getting the results he wanted networking. He wanted to know the "inside secrets" I had discovered about networking success with my twenty years of experience.
I wanted to help Larry but like many other colleagues of mine he was just too anxious to get results. He is in the old model of sales where he would make dozens of cold calls daily hoping that he would "hit paydirt" with someone.
Juxtapose Larry with my good friend and colleague. Marsha is a natural at networking. She engages people immediately by finding out what matters to them–where their passions are, where their excitement life lies. She has no trouble being curious and asking questions that help people open up and even explore, often to their surpise, those things that are most important to them. In otherwords she is a natural and creating connections.
Marsha adds, "It’s also about what is difficult in their lives. I focus on where their needs are, even if it doesn’t involve me. I have a running rolodex that throws out the names of others who can help someone when such a resource is needed." Larry, on the other hand, doesn’t have a running rolodex. In fact, he thinks in that way at all.
Now, being a great networker doesn’t mean you have to have as well-developed rolodex as Marsha but what it does mean is that if he has connectors like Marsha in his rolodex so he can make a connection to her or a connector like her.
So when networking fails it’s not because networking is not a good practice for growing one’s business or sales or career. It’s because the strategy you are using is not effective. Every now and then I find someone who actually gets good results cold calling, but from all the thousands I have trained, coached and consulted with I find networking is a hundred times easier if you know how to do it well.