Organised Networking Sucks Big Time, Here's Why I think So
I had a meeting with a web designer friend of mine recently and we got talking about business. How's business with you, are you keeping busy etc etc… all that kind of usual stuff
He told me the majority of his work comes via other club members (We're in the same sports club together), and that got me thinking….
Of course it does!
Maurice contributes buckets of time to kids in the club, organising matches, training, events, coaches etc etc. He gives lots of his time to the kids purely because he wants to. No agenda. And he gets back that time in business offered to him.
The other night I read a post on Google Small Business Community in G+ that prompted me to record the above video and write this article.
It asked; What's the best way to generate lead?
The Best Way To Generate Leads For Your Business
After considering the question and given that it's a broad one, Maurice the web designer came to mind and the answer to this question did too.
I have found that sustainable and worthwhile business comes about all on its own. It's done by forming real relationships in honest and non business environments.
Business comes about best organically, by virtue of forming relationships through a mutual unrelated interest in your community. This has been my experience.
The best work that ever came my way was through relationships I had formed in a social environment. Drinking pints in the bar, meeting friends, playing football and making a contribution without agenda. Not in a sterile business environment.
Organised business networking groups and organisations such as BNI can offer value, and some good relationships can be formed in that sphere but it's an exception rather than the norm.
The strongest and most valuable relationships come about by virtue of a common interest away from the agenda of making sales.
I would suggest that any lasting relationships you have formed from an initial meeting in a structured business networking environment, came about because you connected on some emotional level.
Organised Networking sterilises the relationship forming process, and when everyone enters the room trying to sell their shit, then nobody buys.
Organisations such as BNI attempt to take what should happen organically in the real world and put it in a box with rules. That just will never work for me…
I'm not good with other people's rules.
Organised Networking ∝ Unsubstantial Relationships
I have very few lasting relationship with the people I met during my time in BNI. In fact when I decided I should move on, one of the members told me he couldn't refer me any longer.
That pretty much sealed it right there. As far as that guy and most others in BNI at that time were concerned, their relationships were only worthwhile if you've paid your fee and sit at the table.
Bullshit, I'm outta here!
Some of you might disagree with me, and that's fine. But as far as I am concerned, real relationships are made first and subsequent business done without an agenda.
You do business with me because you like being around me, you can trust me, we have a deeper connection. And I do business with you because I like being around you and because I trust you. If organised networking can be a facility to nurture that for you then fine, I happen to believe they do the opposite.
Just Forget About It
So, to build your business and generate leads, just forget about it. Forget about trying to coerce, convince, and persuade others that you're good for the. Show them the real you instead.
Join a local community venture, a club, and residents association, or a volunteer organisation. Focused with others on a common goal that supports your values and leave all other agendas at home.
Rather than wasting your time pretending to be interested is some douche you just met, and he pretending to be interested in you'll making a positive difference in the lives of others.