It's important that we measure and track what we do in the course of doing business. Why? It's the only way to know if we're improving or getting worse. What business doesn't want to track and measure in order to gain insights as to what adjustments may need to be made to continue generating profits.
This also applies to our networking efforts. The majority of the people today who claim to be networking are really prospecting instead. They're looking for that next sale, that next client. What they really should be doing is looking for that next connection: for someone else.
I've been involved in a structured networking organization for more than a decade (AmSpirit Business Connections). I didn't understand this concept of giving in order to receive for a couple of years. We all get involved in networking because we all want more clients and more revenue. But very few ever get the fact that giving must come first to get those results.
Think about this for a moment. You have two groups of business people in two different chapters. They're both made up of the same business categories. They are all equally talented in what they do in their respective industries. The first group culture is one where everyone sees each other as a prospect. They may do some business with one another from time to time. They also don't give referrals to each other much unless someone gives to them first.
As time goes by, there seems to be significant turnover. It's because once a member in the group completes the prospecting of everyone else in the chapter, they see no reason to stay. They view the 'farmland' as being dried up. They move on to greener pastures elsewhere and continue prospecting others.
In the second group, everyone views each other as their outsourced salesperson. They actively engage with each other to learn as much as they can about their businesses so that they are empowered to find referrals for each other. They go out of their way to promote each others' businesses. They come to know, like, and trust each other so much that they do often times become each others client.
Which group do you think is more successful? There's no doubt that is would be the second group. As it relates to a structured organization like AmSpirit Business Connections, I would also emphasize the importance of expanding networks. Chapters who do not interact with other chapters or attend other networking events frequently limit themselves. They do not have enough contacts in order to connect others.
Often times I hear from chapters saying, "Please send guests to us to help us grow our chapter." I personally work with 10 chapters as their Area Director and I do attempt to connect those looking for chapters with those chapters with open categories. However, if there are two chapters that both have the same category open I'm going to suggest the guest go visit the stronger chapter. That is, the chapter that is enthusiastic, engaged in frequent networking, the chapter that generates lots of referrals.
Why would I send a guest to a chapter that does the bare minimum? That guest, even if they join, will not last long in the chapter because they will be discouraged by the results. In order to help the guest be successful in their business and in their networking, they deserve to be directed to the best networking experience.
The bottom line: be intentional with all your networking efforts, measure and track all your networking activities. If your results are not what you'd like to see, look at your metrics. Are you networking enough? Have you given enough? Not only that, but are your referrals considered quality? These are all key measurements that can be made.
If you do not have an easy way to track these types of measurements, I would recommend that you give Referral Metrics a try. This is an online software subscription that empowers you to easily give and receive referrals either using your smartphone or logging into a web site and recording all your networking activity. You can visit www.referralmetrics.com to learn more and sign up for a 30 day free trial subscription. No credit card is needed for the trial. Simply let your trial expire if you do not wish to continue.
Once you've begun measuring and tracking your networking activity, I'd love to hear success stories from you. I'd like to include some of these stories in an upcoming book that I am working on about networking. You may reach me at email@example.com if you have comments or would like to contribute a success story.