I have found most networking (of any kind) to be an inefficient use of my time. At most events, I always had a little voice in my head saying things like, “Instead of being here, I could be building ,” or “What could possibly come out of this discussion?” I’m also frustrated because so many events don’t have my prospects, but “people who know people who know people who may know a potential prospect of mine”.
I have taken a totally different approach. It’s really simple and maybe even counter-intuitive. Hear me out:
Be excellent. Better yet, be “very” excellent. In everything you do.
If my customer doesn’t think I’m their best vendor, then I have failed.
This applies to “everything”. In the work that I do. In the products I supply. In the fun their people have with me. In the “outside their box” thinking about every project. In the communication. In the failsafe processes of doing business (Yes, I double check that some has double checked.) In thinking 2 steps ahead of them. In being a trusted partner in that part of their business. In pristine ethics (Don’t underestimate this one; one slip neutralizes “everything else you’ve ever done”.)
When I conduct business this way, I become a magnet to those who need my services. I call this “passive networking”. I spend no time networking, no time marketing, pay no referrals, and focus completely on my customers. They know and appreciate this. When one of their colleagues mentions a concern at “their” networking meeting, their Tech Club, their restaurant, or in a discussion with their vendors and customers, they think of me. When they care about the people they know, they want the best for them. I always want to be thought of in this way. IMO, “this” is the definition of totally efficient marketing.
I know it sounds awfully old school and like a cop-out, but doing everything I can to make myself a magnet is the best thing I ever did for my business. So instead of wasting 99% of my time with strangers, I spend it directly investing 100% of it in people that already matter.