I hear many people complaining that networking is a waste of time.

I simply don’t agree. Networking was one of the top things that helped me build my company, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

There is simply nothing that compares to going out and meeting people in person. And there is no amount of Internet marketing or social media that can and ever will replace it.

If you are finding that networking isn’t working for you, it’s because you are probably making one of three grave mistakes (there’s more mistakes you could be making, but these are the top three):

1. You are ONLY looking for potential clients at events. You are going to events and looking around for your target market. Either you find one or two individuals or you find no one at all. You consider the event a failure.

Here’s the secret. You aren’t going to networking events just to find potential clients. You are going to the event to connect with referral partners as well. Referral partners are folks that can help you get to your ideal clients. They are either folks that know your ideal clients or serve your ideal clients in some way.

Networking has been an amazing source of referral partners for me.

I found my first kitchen to do cooking classes in at a networking event (back in the days when I ran Ideal Balance).

I met an online magazine publisher and got connected to Inc magazine at a networking event.

I connected with my first JV partner at a networking event, and she had a list of over 5000 people.

The key is to be open to every possibility. Know that conversations are worth having even if you can’t foresee the outcome.

2. You aren’t giving. You are networking like a banshee but you aren’t giving referrals to anyone or connecting people. We all know you have to give to receive. But where people make mistakes is that they think giving is linear.

You give a referral to Scott and Scott gives a referral to you.

That rarely happens.

What happens is that you start connecting people and giving referrals and the next thing you know the phone starts ringing. Opportunities start coming in from sources that you could never have predicted.

When you start giving, you start receiving. But you can’t predict the sources or the timing. You just have to stay in the flow of it.

3. You aren’t following up. You meet someone at an event, and you have a great conversation. You hand her your card. You go home and just know that she will call. She doesn’t call. You decide networking sucks.

Or you meet someone at an event. You have an interesting conversation. You hand her your card and take her card. The card sits on your desk for days. About five days later, you remember to send her a note.

She doesn’t respond. You decide that networking is futile.

When you are networking take a business card. Be sure to follow up within 3 days. Remember, follow up at least 3-4 times before you give up. Keep track of the follow up and make sure you have a system.

Networking is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. You just need to learn how to use it effectively and efficiently.

Leave me a comment and let me know your secrets for making networking work for you.

Author's Bio: 

I’m an entrepreneur, a corporate escapee and a lover of everything in the business world. I’m Monica and I’m a small business owner, MBA grad and business professor. I am intimately aware of every struggle that it takes to grow a service business (I’ve been through so many of them). I’ve struggled through low client months, launches that failed and moments of wondering if a full-time job was a better option.