Before I get too far into networking I want to clarify something – there are two types of business networking: connection based networking, and referral based networking.
Connection based networking is about developing relationships that turn into referrals, but they are long term referral-partners who know you and your business and want to see you succeed, knowing your heart for your business. So the referrals end up being “hot leads” of those who will genuinely benefit from your services, and they are referring their friends and family to you because they trust you. There are local based networking meetings for your business, and honestly – blogging is a type of connection based networking.
With referral based networking, you have more instant gratification because leads/referrals are required. Referral based networking groups are most of the time only local groups that meet weekly, and require a lead – so unfortunately, sometimes this means you get a referral card with a name on it, that might not even know you are calling (which is awkward), or you receive a lead simply out of obligation. They aren’t all bad – sometimes you get some truly great leads, and make great connections.
I have experienced both types of networking. And having experienced both, I have compiled a list of pros and cons of both.
Connection Based Networking
- You build relationships with those in your networking group. You know who they are, why they are in the business they are, why they are passionate for what they are, etc. You get to know them on a more personal level. This is definitely a plus in the fact that you create long-term friendships, and those you form a relationship with have a passion for seeing you succeed.
- Accountability comes with connection based networking as well. With networking power partners, they become those who keep you accountable in your business, following up with you, helping you reach your goals, and reminding you to keep you head in the game.
- Once connections are made and relationships are formed, you become the “go-to person” when someone knows another person in need of your products or services.
- Finding connection based networking outlets are common locally or through the internet – examples: blogging, connection based networking sites: RevolutionizeHer, Better Blogger Network, WINNational
- Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get the referrals.
- It takes commitment – you have to put in some serious effect into attending meetings (if applicable) and staying on top of being proactive with your connections.
Referral Based Networking
- Referrals are often passed to every meeting, which can come with the feeling of instant gratification.
- Due to the high cost of these types of networking groups (most ranging from $399-$899/year), the attendance is greater every meeting.
- Most meetings have a room full of people (20+) so your 3o second commercial is heard by more people.
- You often find that most people there aren’t there to make long term relationships & connections.
- You will spend more money on these types of groups.
- Getting referrals doesn’t always work as they are “hot leads.” (Hot lead means that the person’s name on the referral form might have no idea you are calling them, or be interested in your products or services.)
- Having a larger amount of people in the networking group can mean it feels less personal
- Your 30 second commercial may easily get lost in the shuffle of the 20 other “commercials”
* Please note, these are my opinions after experiencing both types of groups. I know a variety of people that one works better than the other for them based on preference and personality.
So, after learning more about networking – how much do you network? What do you feel like is your “style” of networking? And if you have questions about networking, send them my way!