Monday, January 2, 2012

Big Challenge #1: Most Networking is Inefficient

Dead End

Last week you will recall that we identified the three stakeholders in networking: the person with the Problem, the person with the Solution, and the person the Connects them.

Welcome to part one of a three part series about the major challenges in business networking and what you should do to overcome them.

Most networking is inefficient because most business people are focused on passing leads. You know what this looks like, you have a friend who is looking to build their business (Solution) and you (Connector) open your database and pass them a few names of people who might be interested in buying (“Problem”). The word “Problem” is in quotes because we perceive that these valuable contacts from our database might have a problem that this friend of ours can solve. So what happens, our valuable contact gets a call from someone that they don’t know about something that they don’t perceive that they need. It’s a dead end! The worst part about this is that our name was used to make the connection. Ouch!

The inefficiency can degenerate further…A few years back, on my way into a networking meeting; I observed something that shocked me. It was the groups weekly early morning meeting and were at the normal restaurant. The group had a rule that compelled each member to bring at least  three leads each week for other members of the group and to distribute the leads at the meeting. So what did I observe…On the way into the restaurant I just happened to be following another member who as they were passing the business card fish bowl at the cash register reached in and retrieved the leads that they would be passing out. Why bother to network if this is what you’re going to do. You might as well open up the phone book and start dialing…it is just as efficient. Another dead end!

Each of us has invested too much time in our communities to have our reputation squandered by making poor introductions.

So how do we turn this runaway train around and make networking efficient? It is really very simple, stop passing leads! Focus on finding out what problems exist. Become interested in those people in that database of yours. Find out how they’re challenged, what their hopes are, and what problems they are looking to solve. When they disclose a gap and before you introduce a Solution ask them, “is that something that you’re looking for help with?”

Networking becomes very easy and efficient when we are Problem centered.

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