Networking…cruisin’ or crashin’?

More and more, I hear small business owners say, “I’ve tried lots of networking groups, but none of them work for me.”  To me, that’s like saying, “I’ve tried lots of cars, but I never get where I want to go.”  I wonder if maybe, it’s not the car.

Do you know where you want to “go?” Are you introducing a new business or product? Are you seeking specific introductions or opportunities or referrals? Attending networking meetings and events without a plan for what you want to accomplish is like starting a trip without a destination, or even a map. You might stumble across something cool…the world’s largest ball-of-twine or only two-headed-snake.  But if you don’t know where you want to end up, you’ll never get there.  Worse yet, you might never even start the journey!

Are you driving the right kind of vehicle?  How do you respond to the question, “What do you do?” Do you recite a list of what you sell, hoping listeners will want to buy? Or do you provide a sense for what you offer, confident that listeners will want to know more? A great message is like a cool car.  People notice it, ask questions about it, and remember it.

Do you know how to drive? When given the opportunity to talk about yourself or your business, do you engage and connect with people? Or do you look at the floor, stuff your hands into your pockets, and use “um” or “uh” like salt on a bucket of popcorn? Delivering a great message poorly is like getting behind the wheel of an awesome sports car and swerving it all over the road, sidewalks, and backyards, until it comes to rest in your neighbor’s garden – covered with vegetables, wrapped in a hose, dragging a lawn chair and an Elmo sprinkler behind.

If you find your business isn’t getting the traction it needs, or going in the direction you want, don’t blame the road. Know your destination. Plan your trip. Fill your tank. Drive carefully, comfortably, skillfully. And in no time at all, you’ll be cruising down the road to success,  getting the attention you need to start generating the income you want.


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