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If You Schmooze, You Lose
If You Schmooze, You Lose
Do you want to find out where the best deals are? Network!
Do you want to land your ideal job? Network!
Do you want to bring in more clients? Network!
That's the conventional wisdom, anyway. Managers, trainers, salespeople and professionals have long known the importance of networking to get ahead in life. After all, "It isn't WHAT you know," the saying goes, "it's WHO you know that counts."
Knowledgeable business people are aware that over 80% of revenues comes from referrals from our various spheres of influence. That's just a fancy way of saying that our personal economies and successes are driven by our overlapping and interconnected circles of friends, relatives, customers, golf buddies, fellow committee members, etc. It would make sense then that if it's "who you know" we'd better get out there and "network."
To many that means going from one networking event to another; Monday morning breakfasts with the Rotary Club, Tuesday cocktails with the Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday dinner with the local Women's Group, Thursday breakfast with our leads exchange club, Friday lunch with the Lions Club, until our life becomes a blurring, never-ending circle: eat, schmooze, eat, schmooze. eat, schmooze. That's what we've got to do if we want to bring in the clients, isn't it? I don't think so.
My theory is that if we schmooze, we lose. If all we're doing is going from one networking mixer to another striking up gossipy, directionless conversations (that is, after all the definition of "schmoozing") we have totally mistaken activity for action.
You see, what most people fail to understand is that all this activity is absolutely useless if we don't first grasp the concept that networking is both "work "and a "learned" skill. We're all told to network, but nobody tells us HOW.
Like everything else in building our businesses, (and indeed in life), there has to be a purpose. Unfortunately many people are so hungry for new business that they dash out the door to go to a function without ever having given any thought whatsoever as to what they wish to accomplish once they get there. What is your purpose in networking in general, and what is your purpose in attending the various functions you have chosen? Most people never think about this. They just go out and cross their fingers that something will come of it.
How many surgeons, I wonder, would be comfortable entering an operating room and cutting into a patient without first preparing for the procedure? This means the acquisition of knowledge, lots of practice, having the proper tools on hand, a clear understanding of what the desired outcome should be, and knowing the best course of action to take to get that outcome. I know I wouldn't want to be seen by this type of professional without some assurances that he or she knew what they were doing and was prepared!
How come then, so many of us who consider ourselves professionals of a different type walk into OUR "operating theaters" totally unprepared? We're happy to enter the rooms WE work without advance preparation and are happy to just "wing it." Doctors don't "wing it." Why should we?
How prepared are YOU to venture out into the wonderful world of business networking and all the rewards it can hold? Test yourself by answering the following questions honestly and working on the areas in which you may find yourself deficient.
--What is my vision for my business?
--What networking activities will help me turn my vision into a reality?
--As I work towards that vision, what can I do to ensure that my personal life does not suffer?
--How can I best educate myself on the most effective ways to network?
--Do I have a networking plan? (This is just as important as a business plan or a marketing plan.)
--Do I have a list of individuals from the industries with which I need to form strategic alliances?
--Who do I want to meet?
--Who do I NEED to meet?
--What events do these people frequent?
--What do I know about the people I want to meet?
--Who or what do I have in common with them?
--How will I follow up with the people I meet?
--What goals have I set to make sure my vision becomes a reality?
--Do I have a clear plan of action to achieve those goals?
--Have I shared my vision, my goals, my plan of action, with my coach or someone else who will hold me accountable?
Once we have a clear understanding of our vision, have set goals, have created a plan of action, and have agreed to be held accountable for completing our various steps, the next thing is to work the plan and not give up before we achieve what it is we wish to achieve. This seems to be the hardest part for so many people. So many of us are looking for instant gratification. The problem with that is that growing a business AND building the life we want takes time AND it takes work.
BOTTOM LINE: Plan your work, work your plan, and always heed the advice of the ancient Romans who said "Veni,
vidi, velcro"--I came, I saw, I stuck with it!" ;-)
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