22 March 2006

Networking or networks?

Some people can go overboard on the value of networking. I have never understood why having met someone during a networking event they should like you, much less trust you enough to do mission critical work for them. Speed networking is even more of a mystery. I'm not saying that these events aren't fun or that you shouldn't do them. It is simply that some people who collect network contacts can be a little like train-spotters and can be so focused on collecting new contacts that it becomes a deflectionary activity which prevents them from actually doing any selling. I'm not alone in this - see Kirsten Osolind.

I once read a long essay by someone who is strong promoter of networks and I honestly could not understand how his business model could work for anyone who was not in the business of promoting networking. Fortunately for him, he is. The question is why anyone could read the essay and believe that his approach could be applied blindly to their own business. His model is clearly to increase the size of his network (base membership is about £10/month) because increasing the size of the network increases the cash stream and eventually someone will become interested enough in what he is doing to take him to market.

But I'm not decrying networks - far from it. Quite a lot of our new business comes from simply reviewing the opportunities that come to us from the networks that we are in. Six or seven leads during the last month alone. Yesterday was a prime example. After our operations meeting last night, Phil went home and noticed that someone in one of his networks had a client with a problem that we could fix. The client was also willing to reward the work on terms that we had already agreed between the three of us. We'll pitch for it today.


Blogger kirsten said...

Hi John:

Thanks for the link, John. Sadly, the days of 5 minute rapid fire networking are far from over.

The best biz dev folks know the secret to success is one to one relationship building -- assessing what that potential customer/client really needs and wants and providing them with a smart solution.

Cheers. And thanks for reading! Great to see that your blog was featured on Technorati's home page today.


3:12 pm  
Blogger John Diffenthal said...

Thanks for writing a post that deserved a link!


10:58 pm  

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