Every time I turn on my computer I seem to be bombarded with the messages that I need to Network, join a Forum or Group, attend Meetings; and these will somehow magically increase my sales and overall general profitability.
Not only does Networking not work that way but if I joined every Group and attended every Meeting I would never have time to make anything.
Now I’m not going to list steps on how to benefit from a Network Meeting. There are heaps of sites and books that do that already.What they don’t do is show you how to evaluate if the group is working for you.
Are all Networks created equal? Of course not! What do you hope to gain from joining a group? Is it to be surrounded by likeminded people, do you want business contacts, a mentor, learning opportunities, social interaction? You need to sit down and identify why you are considering joining the group. Don’t be afraid to ask the group how they will meet your expectations. Can they meet your expectations?
If the WAHM group that you are considering joining for learning opportunities doesn’t offer it then you may be better off joining the local Rotary group. Once you have done all this there are still no guarantees that group will be right for you. How do you know if they are a good fit for you, if you have outgrown them or simply no longer have the time?
Here is what I have learned. In my previous working life I was required to attend countless hours of Networking Meetings to meet our funding requirements. Needless to say I found most to be nothing more than opportunity to have coffee and cake and whinge about how tough we had it. I like cake as much of the next person but when I found myself valuing a meeting based on the menu I knew something had to change.
After every meeting I started asking myself one question. What did I learn or gain from today’s meeting? If the answer was ‘nothing’ three times in a row I stopped attending. Simple.
In my case it was never that simple. Remember I said that attendance was often required to meet funding? I had to justify my non attendance to my Boss and the Funding Bodies. Showing them I had asked and answered this question was all the evidence I needed. My days were no longer filled with endless pointless meetings; only meetings that provided measurable outcomes for my clients, staff and myself.
I’m not advocating that you stop Networking. Just that you start to be a little selective. The benefits of Networking should be measurable in more than how delicious the coffee and cake was.