In the world of networking, there are hunters and there are farmers.
Hunters go to an event armed with leaflets and their elevator pitch with one objective: to sell, sell, sell.
They will ram raid groups of people, hijacking conversations and talk, talk, talk.
If they have a simple low-cost offering, they may claim some success. If they can make sales they may come away thinking their time was well spent and of course, at one level it was – at least for them.
That, however, is not networking… it is selling.
Let’s look at what has really happened and then at the farmer’s approach.
The hunter is out for as many sales as possible in as short a time. Along the way, he will alienate people, be shunned by others and avoided by the rest.
Networking is about forming, building and developing relationships. It is about knowing, liking and trusting. It is about being able to identify the sort of business your network members are seeking and making a referral – putting the requirement with the provider.
So what about farmers? Well, they are networkers really but they prepare their networking ground, sow seeds of business relationships, nurture those relationships and reap rewards through referrals.
They are in the room, talking, yes but also listening. Listening to what others are saying, looking for common ground, finding connections and getting to know.
Not everyone the farmers meet will become a member of their networks. Sometimes the relationship doesn’t get beyond the ‘know’ stage. That is not to say that a referral cannot result.
The farmers will keep moving around the room and metaphorically, ‘touch’ as many people as possible. Renewing and reminding those they already know and meeting as many new people as they can. They don’t get stuck in one group; they don’t stay with people they already know. They give and ask for business cards.
The farmers may leave the meeting having not met anyone who would buy from them and yet knowing the time was well spent. How?
Because all of the people they met will in time hear the need which the farmers business can answer and make that referral.
If the farmer met 15 people at that event who each have 200 people in their network, that is 3000 potential customers for the farmer’s business. That is a lot more than the hunter can hope to get from that meeting.