I hear this a lot in networking circles
Indeed, I was bemused for years at how attending so many different networking groups was very slow to translate to genuine leads. I had the mistaken view that since I was giving a lot of leads that it would be reciprocated. I had a lot to learn about business networking.
Even though the idea of walking into a room of strangers and giving them leads because “That’s the way it works,” was baffling to me, I did it anyway. Lead after lead I handed out simply because I had been reassured that all of this giving was a win for me.
The reality for over 5 years was that I lost some great connections and will never know why, because I connected them to unqualified leads, whilst received very few genuine leads myself
Part of this was through naivety on my part, part because I was probably too trusting, and partly because I did not properly qualify the leads or prepare those I was connecting them to as to the nature of my relationship and why I was connecting them.
I realise that this was the way it worked whilst not really liking it very much. Most people I know have horror stories about connecting someone who was not pre-qualified properly, who inevitably went on to damage their reputation and relationship with previously strong business connections.
Networking takes time and is an art
Good networkers are worth their weight in gold. This is why I encourage commissions being given to those who bring in great quality leads that lead to business. With this approach we all work for each other and those who do most of the giving actually get rewarded for it in a way that pays the bills.
When I pitch my business network to attendees I explain that the room is like a field and membership is like being given a bag of seeds. Good networking must be seen as a loss-leader. In the same way that a farmer owning a field and being given the seeds will not expect to eat the next day, it is unlikely that anyone who has just met you will give you any great leads. This is not always the case. Indeed I have given and received some good leads after first meetings when I sense a clear synergy and I like the person I am talking to.
A quick fix versus a sustainable solution
So, hopefully by explaining this I will at least filter out those who run from networking event to networking event looking for the golden goose of great leads given without needing to build a relationship first with those giving the leads. For anyone who is prepared to put in the time to build relationships first, then you are welcome to come along and find a more relaxed way of business networking where leads are only given when enough rapport has been established.