What are the major problems faced by business networkers?
What are the top 2-3 major problems encountered when you network to build your business? Are they the same problem in year 1 vs. year 5? Do you use any tools/apps or best systems/process you like to use?
The first challenge I encounter is time. When networking, how much time can I invest in the fishing expedition? How much time can I invest in helping others I have networked with? Secondly, as a business networker, developing the correct questions to ask is critical. Know the questions to ask that will provide a conversation that leads you to answers that either qualify or disqualify the person. Can I help them or they help me? The sooner I get to that conclusion the better I become as a networker. The third challenge as a networker is ROI, or return on my time. I set up specific metrics to measure the success of my networking investment.
Same old same old.Everyone is looking for that unique differentiator.Most are variations on the same theme.Many are looking for new ways for them to make $ under the auspices of their "new-Look" at the networking.That is not to say that they are bad or not worth the time but I have found by looking at most of them they actually all have some merit.
It s simply and introduction opportunity, If the interest level is high with both parties then it may go somewhere. If not it is another dead end road. One must understand the audience of such groups and manage expectations. The events are more social in nature and not business builders. One in a while a pearl is found among the oysters but not often.
There are several categories of issues with using networking as a primary business strategy:
1. Timing - it's marketing, not sales, so if cash needs are urgent the ROI might not happen soon enough for your taste. Or soon enough for the survival of a startup that's counting primarily on networking.
2. Targeting - networking groups can be expensive, so if you're going to join one make sure that your decision makers are there. You want to hang out where your customers hang out. Even in referral groups there are shared customer bases. If yours isn't in alignment with the others - not necessarily identical, but related - then you should find another group.
3. The conversation - networkers sometimes forget that a relationship is the first thing to build. You have to earn the right to ask sales related questions. Beyond that, the networking event itself isn't the place to hold the full conversation. The other person is paying to be there just like you are, and if you keep him or her too long you're interfering with the return on their investment. Not cool.
4. Follow-up - far more cards are collected than are used to set up follow-up appointments. You might think you know that a person you met is not a prospect. But they might be a referral source. Meet with them. It's like Christmas morning - you don't know what might be in the package, and it might be something really good!
the first question is what is product who would benefit from your product
The major problem with networking is authenticity. People are not genuine when they represent themselves, therefore in year 1 you might think you can trust someone, but in year 5 after 4-5 years of mistrust, the company slowly stutters, stumbles, crumbles and because of the barriers within the company, the friction leads to too much heat.
That's why trust and transparency are so important. Incentives set up in the 1st year of your company are what is going to ruin your company in the 5th year, because people DO NOT LIKE TO CHANGE.
Someone eventually can't handle the heat in the kitchen, and year 1 90% of business burn up by year 5 99% of companies burn up all their cash, are back in the red and failing and wondering should we stay strong with our business plan or pivot. They just don't realize that the only option is to pivot when you are stuck in the corner.
Year 1 is easy, year 2 is a breeze, year 3 through 5 is what nobody imagined and the inability to execute due to an in-genuine network leads to a great deal of problems later in the companies sustainability model.
The best advice I can give you is weekly face to face meetings of the founders, ceo, board of directors, mentors, etc. LinkedIn isn't going to do anything when the sh*t hit the fan.
Find people that you can trust, bring them in close, and become close enough to smell their bubble gum. (That's a Hoosier's reference)
Also protect your idea! It always pays to hire the right lawyers and accountants because you pay for good advice, but you keep on paying for bad advice.
Find a good mentor, be really cautious going into business with people.
They say "First Who, Then What?" So take care of a capable executive branch in your company of people who are willing to work and do the work necessary to create a sustainable company from Day 0 to Day 200 to Day 2000.
Be up front with your exit strategy. Business is business, but all you have is your reputation in business.
There is a lot of great feedback in the answers so far. My two cents is that one of the biggest challenges with networking is that many people now confuse networking - with attending a networking event. Networking is bigger than just networking events. Networking can be as simple as calling up a player in your market and saying "I would like to get to know more about your business - could I take you out for lunch or a coffee and have a chat?" - and then don't forget the cardinal rule of networking - networking is not selling - never try and sell someone in a networking situation. Networking is an opportunity to prove your value as a contact. Share ideas, solutions,etc - but never sell.
The first problema is the trust factor that needs to be very strong in order to build a business on line; the second problema is the fast response you can make in order to satisfy your client and not give him reasons to look elsewhere or a service not online but that it is trustable; the thrid problem is the effcience rate of your virtual platform since it is this one that gives a general image to your target market.
1. Two major problems I see repeated over and over are not identifying one's target market and blindly handing out business cards without first qualifying the recipient as a potential target.
2. The top two or three problems involve the two I addressed above with the third being networking in the wrong environment. Know where your future customers go ... and follow!
3. Well, they shouldn't be the same problem five years down the road! If they are, you haven't learned anything.
4. Yes. Here in Albuquerque, there are any number of excellent venues I learn about from other professionals, the local business publications, and (occasionally) through LinkedIn. In the end, it's all about developing relationships with like-minded individuals who are as interested in my success as I am in theirs. I don't think there's an app for that!
Problem has and always will be lack of access to capital. You must use any thing you can to reach those who maybe able to help you reach your goal.
Your dealing with people. People have their lives and their interests. Most people are coincerned with their own lives and what they can achieve, get or be in their life. The main problems with networking is to gain interest in what you have to offer and how valuable is it to the person you are talking to.
As in any other activity such as sales, it is number of people you network with or talk to. It has been said in sales that it is a numbers game, meaning that one has to talk to a certain number of people to acquire a sale. The same applies in networking.
You have various tools. active listening, finding out what the other person wants or needs, building relationships with people and so forth.
These issues apply in year one, 2 3 4 or 5 or any year after that. People do not change when it comes to their problems and issues and desires.
Go out and talk to people. The most successful person I know, built a business simply by going out and talking to as many people as he could find and if a person was not interested he woud find another person to talk to.
Through sheer numbers he found people to do business with and build up a flourishing business that way.
Sounds like you're fishing for your business, but I'll bite if you can help.
• 2-3 problems:
1. Agree with Bob Halliwell on the generic nature of most networking groups. Unless you're in a business that everyone uses, can afford and are willing to pay for, it doesn't work.
2. I'd say the lack of available networking 'access points' for niche businesses or reasonably client profiles - conferences, etc. can be costly with low returns, if you can't determine the nature of participants in advance.
• Yes: depending on the stage of growth, I'd say the problems will be the same in 2-3 years.
• No: Well, meetup.com and eventbrite.ca, if you're thinking along those lines. Uniiverse.com is supposed to be a new, more integrative tool.
Recommendations? Will read the other comments for more advice.
Thanks for the question! Happy Monday!
A simple statement: you help yourself and your business by helping other people and businesses.
Networking is only as effective as the connections you build. It's important to identify the particular business segment you're working within and professionals within that segment who can not only assist you but whom you can be helpful to as well. There should be an effective give-and-take to establish a strong network. The main issues someone will likely experience:
1. Qualifying your contact - is this person an influencer within the organization you're attempting to connect with?
2. Is there a way to meet with the main contacts in a social setting (i.e. meetup.com - through LinkedIn events, conferences, etc.?
3. What do you have to offer in terms of the give-and-take for the network you're constructing? Having a contact is great, but if you're not bringing anything to the table, a one-sided relationship will quickly be over.
Typically any network is only as strong as the ties associated. The hard part often isn't networking and meeting the "right" people, it's establishing the longer term relationship and keeping that relationship alive and strong.
The biggest problem we have with generic business networking sessions is that they're generic.
For our product we need to be talking to operations, HR, training, finance directors of large organisations and they don't go to generic events - so organisations like BNI don't work for us.
The answer is to find the places where the people you want go. We pay to attend conferences where we are likely to meet our prospects.
Networking is a very good way to build your business if you have a clear idea of what you want and have targeted your ideal market. The major problem I see with business owners is not being clear on what they can do and secondly it is over selling their services. The art of networking is learning about the other person and where they may have a need that you can help them address. Only then will they be interested in what you are offering. This is key no matter how long you are in business