Remember the Bell Curve
Remember that bell curve you learned in the college statistics class you were required to take. That’s what I think of whenever I’ve joined another traditional networking group. You’re the new person in a group. It starts off a little slow, then people get to know you and you start to get some referrals. After a while everyone in the group who is going to refer you already has given you a referral and they have used up all the people they know who they think can use your product or service. Now you’re on your way down the curve and it peters down to almost nothing.
Why does this happen?
The reason this happens is because a traditional networking group is composed of a random group of non-competing professionals who are unlikely to refer you because they actually do not know people who can use your product or service. They are not in your world. They may sell B2C when you sell B2B. They may call on small companies and you call on big ones. They may call on marketing executives and you call on operations executive. If they do refer you it was just luck that they happen to know someone who they could refer to you.
Take Luck out of the Equation
So how do you avoid this? Easy. You should not network with random people. You should only network with others who are in your world. These are the ones who are most likely to know the people you need to know. These are people who also sell to operations executives at large companies, just like you do. Therefore, they can introduce you to the operations executives at those large companies that you don’t already know.
There is no bell curve of ineffectiveness if you’re networking in a group of professionals who all call on the same target market. The other people in the group won’t run out of people to send you to until everyone in the group runs out of current customers of theirs that they can refer you to. And when that happens, the group can target new customers together.
Jonathan Rosen is Founder of Collaberex www.collaberex.com which forms and facilitates business development groups in the NY Metro Area.