Building a productive network doesn’t require you to know a lot of people. It just requires that you know the right people. On occasion, I’ve mentioned “Drive-By Networking.” Most of us have experienced the Drive-By: Networking Man swoops in on your conversation and opens up at the cyclical rate with who he is and what latest and greatest product or service he represents. He quickly screens you as a prospect, listening only long enough to determine whether to go for the close or move on to the next victim. Cards and brochures are passed (yours stuffed into a pocket) and poof, he’s gone. They may follow up with a canned “It was good to meet you” email with an offer to set an appointment if you are interested in learning more about them. Networking Man knows a ton of people.
Then there is Smart Networker who networks with a purpose. They know who the right people are for them to know because they have clearly defined their market. They have a clear compelling message and are focused on meeting the right people. They get to know those people and seek ways to contribute to their success. Their follow up is personalized and offers something of value.
There has been debate about what is better with a network: broad or deep. Numbers are important, don’t get me wrong. Most sales people suffer as the results of too few names in their database. They don’t have enough leads. But going deep with people who you expect to provide you with referrals is what makes it work. Go deep with the right people and you’re on your way to good things. Smart Networker has a broad network but more importantly, has the right people in that network.