Most networkers will have come across someone who joins a club and then spends a few months working the room for everything he or she can get from the other members. Thereafter this type of person will probably start to become an infrequent attendee and eventually will either stop turning up altogether or simply fail to renew their membership.
This is disappointing and discouraging for everyone involved but tends to reflect the ‘smash and grab’ attitude which that type of person espouses. It is really only one step up from the individual who attends every networking meeting they can find on as many occasions as they are allowed to get away with, gathers up all the business cards they can find and then rides off into the sunset.
The problem for all these people is simply that they just don’t get it. Networking in its purest and most successful form is not a question of carrying out Viking style raids on specific targets and taking everything you can carry. No, it’s actually about fostering and nurturing business relationships so that the maximum benefit can be extracted from them over a lengthy period of time.
You might think that by the time you have got to know someone and they have begun to feed you small amounts of work in the form of something you can do for them or one of their friends, family members or even clients that you have mined the prospect fully. But that won’t be the case even if you have shown good faith by ensuring that you refer business in the opposite direction.
Human nature being what it is, other members are likely to hold back the best of what they have to offer until they can be entirely sure that you won’t cause them embarrassment by not doing the job properly or offering less than perfect customer service..The best returns from networking are achieved by playing the long game and ensuring that complete trust is established. You will make this happen by listening, arranging as many one to ones as possible and really getting to know the other person concerned. There may be many ways in which you can work together and these can be obvious straight away or may take a long time to develop properly. It might need a couple of years of membership to achieve what you want.
Don’t take the short term view and walk away with everyone else thinking badly of you – adopt a more sensible long term approach and really get the most out of being a networker.