Networking is indeed important. From the fact that as much as 85% of all jobs are filled by networking to the unique partnerships and opportunities for expansion that may evolve, who you know can change your business, your future, and even your daily life.
But indiscriminate, unsuccessful networking and self-marketing can work against you–driving away the very people you might most want to work with. Here are five signs that your network marketing strategies are not working for you, and what to do about it.
Signs of Failing Network Marketing Strategies
1. Too Much Time Spent
If you find yourself spending too much time at networking events, conferences, chamber of commerce activities, and the like…so much, in fact, that you are having trouble keeping up with your business, it may be a sign that you need more successful networking strategies. You want the time spent networking to yield results, not suck away time and resources.
2. Your Relationships are Failing
If you are spending your time networking, but find that your other personal relationships are suffering, your networking strategies are failing. There’s truth to what is said about work/life balance, and it also comes down to quality. If your family and long-term, faithful friends have all taken the back burner because of a presumed need to meet the kinds of connections that will boost your business, it’s time to re-prioritize a little.
3. Networking Drudgery
If you are not looking forward to that next conference, event or other networking opportunities, especially if it’s the kind of thing you used to enjoy, your networking strategies aren’t working for you. That lack of enthusiasm you feel will come across, anyway, further compounding the problem. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to successful networking.
4. Too Much Input, Too Little Vision
Networking is also a great opportunity to give your elevator pitch and get input on your vision, which can fine-tune your plans and your business strategies. However, if you find yourself taking that input too much to heart, getting off-track on your own vision, or otherwise diluting your personal mission, you are not pursuing the best network marketing strategies.
You may have heard people say, “You be you.” Don’t lose you, or your vision, just because of the input of others as you mingle.
5. Why are You Doing This, Anyway?
If you find yourself unsure of why you are networking at all, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ve gotten off your mark.
Networking should be organic, about you meeting people and developing meaningful relationships that may (or may not) lead somewhere. You may walk away from an encounter with an idea, a business lead, or a future partner. Then again, you may walk away from a gathering with nothing but a bill for the dinner. Whether or not you enjoy that experience has a great deal to do with authenticity in the process–get to know people that you genuinely admire, or whose work you are interested in, and opportunities will present themselves.
Getting Networking Right
In addition to being an organic and natural experience, networking takes time. Be friendly and introduce yourself. Invest your time in the relationships that matter. Have that elevator pitch in your back pocket, and don’t be afraid to share it (but recognize when to just put it back in your pocket).
It’s a bit of a balancing act, perhaps, and it takes practice. But if done well, you will find yourself connected to your community in ways that are meaningful and lasting. A networking strategy like that will pay off in referrals, job connections, and other opportunities, but more importantly will make you a part of the fabric of your industry.