When it comes to networking the biggest challenge is finding the right people to join the group.
There is a new thing out there called inbound networking. If you know Pete Caputa from Hubspot, you may have started hearing the rumblings of this new concept. Rick Roberge also is working closely on this idea and set up a linkedin group Inbound Networkers. The idea looks like this you create a networking group that is both online and offline and you work together to get things up and running.
The goal is to help each member of the group get more business through sharing our sphere of influences.
There are two parts:
- the online world where you either have a group website or guest post on each others blog and cross promote everyones ideas through social media.
- the offline world where you meet on a regular basis– maybe weekly (in person or on the phone) and you share ideas and direction to help everyone expand their reach
The problem with old forms of offline networking was membership. I have been a part of many networking groups and I have gotten some great clients out of them, but I also wasted a lot of time. Often there are groups that meet weekly and have everyone you could think of in the group including Mary Kay and Ambient Electric type companies. Often the B2C type businesses or pyramid scheme companies don't bring much to the table. I have never got an introduction through these types of people.
Often groups talk about having 1 person per industry so the group only sends business to the individual in the group. I know this doesn't always work. What if you join a group and your insurance guy isn't part of the group. Do you give business to YOUR guy or the person in the group?
So as you can see offline networking has a few problems and we haven't gotten into all of them. So how will inbound networking be better? Well, I am committed to starting an inbound networking group, but struggling with this very issue. The thing I am finding is your networking group should be similar to your business in the fact that you follow ideas that Jim Collin's book Good To Great describes.
Here are the three things you need for a great company and I would bet they will work quite well when forming a great inbound networking group.
- Do you have the right people?
- Are they doing the right things?
- Are they doing those things right?
If you can't answer these questions you might want to rethink what you are doing. The goal up front should be to get a core group of 5 or 6 people who are committed to the cause and willing to do the work it will take to get things off the ground. Then you can start inviting others to join and build the group.
I asked a mentor one time how he recommended hiring people. His reply was "Hire Slow and Fire Fast!" So if people don't step up to the challenge, then move on and find someone new. Take the time necessary to find that strong core first no matter how long it takes. The better core group you create the better the group will be. Like I said before if there is a weak link, cut them and move on.
So you will probably be hearing more and more about inbound networking over the next few weeks/months. If you'd like to talk about what this might look like, learn more or would like to see if you would be a good fit for one of my groups, schedule a call with Brandwise.