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Networking Tips: Are You Chasing or Choosing?

Heidi Thorne is a business author with 25 years experience in marketing and sales including a decade in the hotel and trade show industries.

Instead of choosing what groups and events are most advantageous for them, over-networkers take a "panning for gold" approach and chase every vein of sales and networking gold, no matter how small.

Instead of choosing what groups and events are most advantageous for them, over-networkers take a "panning for gold" approach and chase every vein of sales and networking gold, no matter how small.

The Over-Networker

There's one (often more) in every networking group: The over-networker. She (I've seen more women in this mode than men) goes to almost every possible event or meeting being held in the immediate area. At an event, she will pursue (pounce on?) every new person who walks into the room in an overly friendly manner that would make anyone want to find the nearest exit... fast!

The mental fallacy behind this behavior is that over-networkers believe the more events and meetings they attend and the more people they can connect (coerce?), the more attention they will receive. Technically, they're correct. Other people will likely notice how omnipresent they are.

They also falsely reason that with this exposure frequency, they will automatically become the top-of-mind source for whatever it is they sell. Indeed, while they may become the top-of-mind source, they may not ultimately be the chose source. They may even become top-of-mind for the "people to avoid next time" list.

Another false belief is also at work for them. Over-networkers believe that are networking groups, connections, and events are equally valuable. But this is just not the case.

Instead of choosing what groups and events are most advantageous for them, over-networkers take a "panning for gold" approach and chase every vein of sales and networking gold, no matter how small.

What a waste... usually with little to show for it!

Busy-ness or Business?

One of the other qualities of over-networkers is that they are so busy running from one networking event to the next, sometimes attending multiple events on the same day, that they rarely stop to figure out whether their over-networking is producing anything. It's also not uncommon for over-networkers to sacrifice valuable family and personal time in the name of networking, too.

There are ways to get a grip on what kind of network activity and how much is needed to create the sales you want.

The Friendship Fallacy

Another belief fueling the over-networking trap is "friends do business with friends." True, if given the choice, many people would rather do business with a less competent friend than a competent stranger.

But here's what happens. Over-networkers will attend a slew of events and meetings where they know they'll connect with friends, both those that could become clients and those that are not ready, willing, and able to take that buying step. Because it's so nice to meet with friends, they can justify the spending of time or money, regardless of the results.

Don't be fooled into thinking this only happens in F2F (face to face) real-life events. People can easily be lulled into thinking they're really doing business when they over-share and over-engage online. Whether it's being on the social networks for hours a day, sharing too much information or being super active on too many networks.

What's even more amusing is that some of these online over-networkers then brand themselves as social media "gurus" even if they haven't made a dime. "Show me the money!" You need to evaluate the effectiveness of your social networking results.

Preventing Over-Networking

Here are some fundamental prevention steps to keep you from becoming an over-networker:

  • Evaluate networking groups and events in advance. Take a look at the people who will be attending. Don't just look for specific people you know. Look at the work the members or attendees do and the organizations they represent. Are they a good fit for your organization? If not, it's "Next!"
  • Evaluate the opportunity cost. Don't equate activity with results. Measure! Every networking activity takes time, energy, and expense away from something else in your business or personal life.

Bottom line: Choose carefully, don't chase.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2016:

Hi shanmarie! I agree, some networking is always necessary on the business path. But I wonder, too, how some of these people actually get anything done with all the running around they do. I've cut back on my networking activities so that I can concentrate on those events and projects that really matter. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your insight to the conversation! Have a great day!

Shannon Henry from Texas on February 29, 2016:

Great advice! I've been told I"m good at networking, but I don't like doing it purposefully, at least not to benefit myself. Even though I know some networking is necessary, I often wonder how people find time to do it all and still have time for everything else, especially those close.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 28, 2016:

OMG, FlourishAnyway, I avoid them, too! I try to be sympathetic since I know they're just trying to build their businesses. But, yikes! They've gotta slow their roll. They're proposing sales without even "dating." :) Glad I'm not the only one who's noticed. Thanks for adding your observation to the convo! Cheers!

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 27, 2016:

Oh, this was spot on! I know some of these types and try to avoid them. They strike me as phony and self-centered.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 25, 2016:

Hi grand old lady! Quality over quantity wins in networking as it does everywhere else. Thanks for adding that to the conversation! Have a beautiful day!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 25, 2016:

Very helpful advice. It is so much better to network smart than to network plentifully. Well done, very well written:)