BY TJ Walker
That’s right, networking is a complete waste of time for the majority of would-be gurus I see who are out there hustling. Here are the two main ways networking can be worse than useless:
- You haven’t defined your niche. If you haven’t defined your niche tightly enough, then no one can help you. When you meet people they won’t know what to do with you or who to introduce you to or who to recommend you to. You gain no traction. If you say you are a “life coach” you can meet 1500 a day, but if they don’t have anyone coming up to them saying “I need a life coach” then you won’t network yourself into a quality lead much less an actual contract wit a client. Common mistakes are telling people 10 things you do well. No one will remember ten things you do well. Telling them ten things guarantees they won’t remember anything. Versatility can be an asset for certain types of relatively low level jobs, but it is never an asset if you are trying to pitch yourself as a high level and high level world class expert.
A key concept here is learning the difference between what you would tell someone if you were looking for a job versus trying to get hired as an authority or expert. Yes, certain jobs require that you be an expert, but most don’t. You cannot take the mentality of pitching yourself for a job if you really are looking for high-end clients on a consulting or professional basis.
- Networking at network gin events. The worst possible thing you could do as an aspiring expert is to try to network at an event labeled as a “networking event.” The only one who goes to “networking events” are fairly low-level copier salesman and others selling commodities. Networking events can be helpful if you are selling a much-generalized service like dentistry or tax prep services because absolutely everyone has teeth and has to pay taxes. Btu for the most part, networking events are horrible because they are filled with desperate salespeople who are trying to give out as many business cards as possible going to networking events creates the illusion of activity and hard work but usually produces nothing of even lasting value.
The best networking events are always going to be events where you network with other people about some issue bigger than yourself; it could be a black tie charity event, a college football game, a 100-mile bike race. Make quality contacts about real things. It is the same in the dating world. If you go to a singles networking even, you will invariably meet less interesting and less attractive people then if you go to a daylong hike or a 3-day tour of the wine country—the same principle applies.
Of course you should do some networking, but there needs to be a real strategy behind it. Go to events that are really deeply industry specific where you can learn and meet people with similar professional interests, or go to events that are about nothing work related but you think will attract genuinely quality people. Otherwise, you’d frankly be better off staying at home or the office and creating quality video, audio or text content showcasing your expertise. On a typical day where I go to no networking events, I am still networking with thousands of high quality prospects, all without leaving my office. How do I do that? By creating a new video, a new blog entry and a new newsletter very day and by having website with new content that attracts people searching for what I have to offer I “network” with thousands of people though the internet every day. Not everything can be done online; you must have a real world component to your networking. But make darn sure your real world and your online world networking are in sync and are high quality.