Every year, more evidence comes out on the success people have using networking to grow and promote their businesses. But I still see so many people who, for one reason or another, continue to resist networking. I began to wonder why so many business owners were still not sold on networking as a way to grow their business, given that marketing and advertising is so cost-prohibitive, whereas networking provides a great return for a much smaller monetary investment.
I decided to turn to my own network and ask why business owners continue to resist what is so widely known to work. I received more than 100 responses and the answers were really insightful.
There are four major reasons business owners resist the benefits of networking, according to what I am hearing in the field:
1. You're not confident.
This was the most popular reason to resist networking, according to respondents. There were quite a few different ways that “lack of confidence” was described as keeping people from networking. For some, the thought of interacting with strangers is paralyzing, while for others a mix of low self-confidence, shyness and under-estimation of what they can contribute were cited as reasons to avoid networking. Some respondents mentioned a fear of rejection as the reason.
Giving into these fears is just plain bad for business. A successful entrepreneur is not blocked by fear. In fact, most people find that once they actually venture out to meet people in a network setting, they not only build their businesses -- they actually have a good time.
2. You're too busy.
Not having time to network is another excuse I hear a lot from people when I suggest they get involved in a networking organization. People either don't think it's worth giving up something else to network, find it causes stress on top of their other obligations or simply believe they don't have time.
But using “too busy” as an excuse means they are not clear on what they want to gain by directing time toward networking. Once they learn that breaking out of their routine is an enriching experience, they can find ways to make it work into their schedule.
3. You're impatient for results.
Often people don't network because they expect immediate results. They deny the fact that networking works because they personally don't follow up with the people they connect with and get no results. They are impatient and don't understand the value of taking the time to build fruitful relationships. It hasn't worked for them in the past, because they go for the “close” as opposed to establishing trust and the relationship first.
We live in such a rushed society these days, expecting -- even demanding -- immediate results for our efforts. Networking is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme. As I've often said, a successful networking effort is much more like farming than hunting. We have to cultivate good relationships that pay us back over the long term, year after year.
4. You think networking is selling.
People often resist networking because they are frightened about being sold to or don't want to pitch their sale in a room full of competition.
What they don't realize is that networking is not like “cold-calling.” It isn't something you do to someone -- it's something you do with them. It's a conversation. It involves more listening. If both parties keep that in mind, they will be genuinely interested in the other person as they get to know each other. This interest leads to comfort, and that comfort leads to opportunities to provide referrals as they arise and those referrals lead to business.