Networking Myths

A myth is a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.

I’m not really sure what any of that means. What I am sure of is “myths” about networking might be preventing you from meeting more and better people or preventing you from making the most of your efforts.

Here are 6 networking myths recently discussed at a top producer meeting for financial advisors.

Networking is the same thing as selling.
It’s not. Every scenario we discussed in the meeting came from an advisor (or agent) that was simply looking to sell something to someone. And that’s not the purpose of going to a chamber mixer, networking meeting, association function, or business card exchange. Networking is about learning and helping those you like. If you help the right people, they help you right back. And that’s networking, baby!

You have to connect with everyone you meet.
You don’t. You won’t even like everyone you meet! But don’t worry; they probably won’t like you either. Feel better? Hey, liking and not liking people is just part of the deal. And part of everyday life. When you meet people at an event, look to establish some common ground by asking some good questions. So what brings you to this event? What type of work do you do? What are you looking for? Where are you originally from? How do you spend your time when you’re not working? What do you do for fun? Ask open, engaging questions of others and they just might ask the same of you!

You must be an extrovert.
You don’t, but it helps. Being social and outgoing helps you feel more confident about meeting new people, engaging in meaningful conversations, and having fun. That’s the “art” of networking. The “science” comes into play when you ask great questions, strategize how you might help one another, and discuss follow up and staying in touch. This is where introverts tend to trump those “working the room”. Without the “science” or process involved in developing important relationships, socializing at cocktail parties will simply be that – social.

Everyone you meet is a prospect.
Really? Do they know this? Everyone you meet is NOT a prospect. And everyone you meet doesn’t need your product, service, or whatever. If they did, sales wouldn’t be so difficult. A prospect is someone that knows you or knows of you. They’re interested in working with you either now or sometime in the future. How do you know this? Because they told you! When networking, focus on meeting those with whom you can exchange referral business – not people you’re trying to convince to be clients. (See first myth!)

Social media is networking.
Well, it’s an aspect of networking. But it’s not the end all and be all. Many think it is. Yes, I’m on several online platforms including Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook (find me!). And I know many that spend a lot of their time posting, liking, friending, connecting, tweeting, poking, pinging, and re-tweeting. All great stuff but in order to develop relationships, a lot of this activity needs to be followed by the personal touch – a phone call, a Skype call, or a face to face meeting.
Focus on the relationship and the business will be there. (The exception is if you’re looking at social media as a way to sell a product. Of course, great relationships couldn’t hurt product sales either.)

You need to attend an event to network.
You don’t, but again it helps. If you have a great network and you do a great job staying in touch, brainstorming, and exchanging referrals, that’s a great thing. But joining a networking group or organization that’s in line with your values can only help fill your pipeline and add some variety to your day in the life.

Most myths are a waste of time as they prevent you from moving forward. And it’s all about moving forward. What’s holding you back?

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