I used to love going to networking events. In fact, when I first started running my own business, I networked like a maniac.
Though, even at the time, when I’d walk into these events, I always had the same thought…
“This would be SO much easier if the people who were interested in my service would just raise their hands. Or maybe have a little arrow floating above their heads saying “Talk to me! I need your help!”.
Because the problem with networking is the randomness of it all.
Before an event I never knew if any legitimate prospects would be there or if anyone I’d meet could/would introduce me to legitimate prospects. And, if those people were there, would I actually meet those people or end up trapped in a conversation with another pre-paid legal or network marketing representative?
I don’t regret going to the events. I made some great business contacts (some of whom have become great friends) because of networking.
And through those contacts, I did get some business and was able to SLOWLY build my business.
But considering all the hands I shook, all the business cards exchanged, and all the resulting coffees, lunches, phone calls, etc., the conversion rate was quite low.
In many respects networking is a “throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” approach to marketing.
I’m not knocking it and saying it’s a waste of time. As I said before, I originally built my business through networking.
But I realize now that it should have not been my main focus.
If I had really wanted to grow my business more quickly, I should have used a much more focused strategy aimed at getting me in front of prospects who had a bleeding neck.
The ones who were experiencing a painful problem at that instant and were actively looking for a solution that I could provide.
Those are the people I really want to get in front of. And when you’re in front of those people, the conversion rates are A LOT higher.
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t avoid networking events. There’s something to be said for getting out of the office and meeting people face to face.
But it wouldn’t be the main focus of my marketing efforts…as I see it being for many small business owners.
What really drove this home for me was the big realization that people who are interested in my service actually are raising their hands.
They’re just doing it virtually by typing keywords into a search engine that describe the need, desire, or problem they need to solve that is, at that moment, the #1 thing on their minds.
What do you think? Is networking random or do you have a system for reliably generating sales from it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.