As business owners, we network a lot. Networking means different things to different people, but it’s suppose to help you build relationships that will turn into tangible business either directly or indirectly. The problem with networking is that if your aren’t careful you can waste your most precious commodity, your time. Here are a couple of tips that I have found to decide whether or not you networking group is a keeper.
The conversation keeps you coming back
Business is about talking, you have to be able to talk about you and what you do. Talking also extends to being able to listen and bond with the other business owners. Most of that bonding happens around the topics presented at the networking group. Is the content relevant? Does it address situations that happen in your business? Is it something that you genuinely need to learn? If so then this networking group is a good fit.
You feel like you are learning
If you walk out of the meeting with more than you walked in with, then we could argue that the networking group has some value to you. Before you decide the group is a dud, ask yourself why you are there and what your are looking to gain. Knowing what you need will help you find the value in the group and determine if the value is worth your time.
Your business is growing
I hate it when business owners had out their card to everyone in the group and corner you the next time you attend. Networking isn’t about making the sale right then, it’s about laying the foundation. That other business owner may never buy from you, but they may refer you to other companies. That’s what you are after in networking, a chance to build something long term. Maybe you get to act as the subject matter expert, maybe you get to help potential partners but the point of networking is to build something with some long term value. This is the time to show your peers what you can do so that they know who to recommend.
In business everything is a strategy and networking should be no different. Your time is the most expensive asset you have as a business owner, so deciding which networking group to attend is one of the most important decisions you can make for your business.