Vish Kokkonda writes that Networking Is a Waste Of Time. He states that much networking is a waste but it’s not if “you are willing to work at building solid professional relationships.” Absolutely. I’ve written about networking practices, expectations, and objectives for 10 years at MyLinkWiki. Hundreds of other social media gurus have said the same.
This is easier said than done. How can we look at the networking challenge in a way that brings insight and more importantly results. How can good networkers become even better?
Let me share a few thoughts.
Much networking is weak.
I refer to the kind that doesn’t generate results that Vish was talking about and which encompasses both the networking activity and the nature of the person-to-person connection. This includes:
- Open online networking
- Networking events where the primary activity is drinking
- Connections where there is little communication after the initial interaction
This isn’t your granddaddy’s or even your daddy’s business world.
Today’s technologies have fundamentally changed how we relate and communicate. Before the Internet, executives averaged 150 connections. These were strong personal relationships. Services like LinkedIn now enable networks with thousands, or tens of thousands, of contacts. While the network is much larger, it’s also far more diffuse and difficult to engage. You have permission to contact these connections (sometimes). But that doesn’t change the fact that they barely know you. As a result we vastly overestimate the value of the large network.
It’s just like the Sales funnel
Sales, just like networking, is all about the depth of a relationship. A strong networking connection, comparable to a qualified lead ready to buy at the bottom of the funnel, enables you to reach your objective, whether it’s finding prospects for your business or a new job. A weak networking connection is at the other end, at the top of the sales funnel. Expecting a weak network to help you is like expecting to close cold calls. It rarely happens.
Building the relationship is just as critical as creating it.
In sales one qualified lead is worth 100 or even 1,000 prospects. That logarithmic value is similar to networking. Yet people spend only a tiny fraction of their networking time, energy, and money in building their relationships.
One Solution is the Un-Cold Call.
Yes, it’s that time of the program for a short commercial pitch. At Revenue Typhoon we applied the Pay It Forward approach of networking to the beginning of the sales process. It’s not longer a cold call. It’s an Un-Cold Call, which effectively moves your prospects down the sales funnel so they’re more receptive to a call or meeting.
The same happens in reverse. In the Networking Un-Cold Call we apply similar marketing automation and sales techniques to effectively build your relationship with your connections. The result – you can have a large network AND expect it to be more responsive to your requests.