Here are the black market networking tips that will change the odds! You’ve paid to join the big networking groups, done the social media, spent hundreds of hours ‘engaging’ with everyone who will give you the time of day, you opened up your Rolodex and referred to an inch of your reputation, and how much business have you generated?
Zilch! Don’t reinvent the wheel – take a taxi!
Less than zilch actually! Once you budget the annual membership fees, breakfasts, drinks you’ve bought for yourself and people you don’t really like, transportation and parking tickets it is some of the most expensive marketing you do!
Why are so many people so disappointed with networking?
People get disappointed and discouraged because they don’t understand the game. So, what is the game you might ask?
Increase My Network? No!
Collect Business Cards? No!
Connect Beyond The Room? No!
Raise my profile and that of my business? No!
Gather Industry Information? No!
I could go on and on listing all kinds of ‘feel good’ reasons to network but at the end of the day there is only one reason to network.
Get more business now!
That’s it! Anything else is ‘nice’ and ‘useful’ but not important! The rest is benefits that should accrue overtime naturally anyway as a result of focusing on results and should not be the focus of your networking activity.
Let me draw a real world comparison to what networking is really all about!
Dating! Perhaps more aptly, pulling!
[Urban dictionary: ‘PULL’ is used to describe the successful act of attracting a person to such an extent that you would be able to snog (kiss) or perhaps more if so desired.]
If a man (or woman) goes to a pick up bar what is their intention? Marriage? Friendship? Introductions? No! To pick someone up!
Pulling is about results – networking is too!
Now, we also know that everyone who goes to a pick up bar is not planning on leaving with someone. People go to these places for all kinds of reasons – they want attention, ego boost, just like music or to dance, moral support for their fatter and uglier friends – so if you want to pull successfully you need to figure out people’s motivation. Once you understand the motivation then you know whether to ignore or chase.
Networking is no different! You need to attend with a hunters approach and evaluate why other people are really there – find the prey and avoid the other hunters, the spectators, the social addicts!
You need to quickly understand all the spoken and unspoken ‘buying’ signals and look for the best opportunity in the room. Once you’ve found your target you need to quickly separate them from the competition and work on closing! This is a very short-term and competitive opportunity! Too many networking attendees automatically set into a routine meet and greet ritual wasting the opportunity. This is a mistake.
Think lion hunt on the Serengeti!
In networking, like anything else, you will achieve what you focus on! If you focus on all the soft, warm fussy stuff then that is what you will achieve. You will be the nice guy spending all of your time helping everyone else succeed while the networking muscle guys kick sand in your face!
Black Market Networking is about letting the rest of the sheep play by the networking ‘rules’ (chatting , exchanging business cards, and ‘pimping’ out all of their contacts for some vague promises) while you’re off in the corner devouring the business! It is about selling and there is no prize for second place.
‘But wait,’ you’re thinking! It’s givers get! I will get my reward for being a nice guy. It is not about the people in the room it is about who they know!
Let’s go back to the dating analogy (it’s a good one I think). What would you think of a strategy of befriending quality married women in the hope that they will introduce you to their quality single friends – ah, no! It is possible but wouldn’t direct route make more sense?
Remember the war? Yes, the big one! No, I don’t either but I have seen the movies. Little ration books to buy butter, meat and anything worth having were the everyday reality during the war and years afterwards. It wasn’t about money it was about sharing limited resources. Right? Meanwhile people made fortunes selling silk stockings and bananas on the black marketing. If you had a good friend who was a butcher… you ate steak. Well, while mostly everyone was playing nice by the rules a few unscrupulous people made fortunes.
Black Market Networking provides the same opportunity! As everyone is playing the same game, thanks to the organized networking circuit, by being more direct you’ll be the one to win.
If you want to profit while everyone else is acting one way – do the opposite.
Black Market Networking Tip #1
A wolf in sheep’s clothing!
When attending a networking event check the attendee list in advance, if not published ask for it under some believable premise, and do your research. Decide who at the group you want to do business with and prepare a strategy of attack. Once you arrive go straight for your target, separate them from the pack and go for the kill!
If you’re good with names then take a few minutes to memorize everyone’s name and overwhelm the crowd. They will think you’re a networking star and are playing the same time-wasting games – let them think that! They will believe you charming while you walk away with the only real business in the room.
Black Market Networking Tip #2
Park In Your Neighbour’s Driveway!
Organising and managing networking events is a lot of work. It is mostly a thankless job that delivers few real benefits. While the organizers are busy getting the heat turned off or on, other people are building valuable connections. Take the opportunity to collect the very best people at events and organize your own ‘closed’ networking events. You’ll be seen as a Maven and others will have done much of the work for you. When you meet someone who could be a key person then tell them they are special and invite them to your exclusive events. Never, never, never give anyone else access except your key contacts. Givers give – takers take!
Black Market Networking Tip #3
Banking is Not a risk Business!
Ever wonder why the banks make so much profit? It is because they understood long, long ago that it is better to profit from the greed of others than suffer the risk of greed themselves.
All the networking sheep are out there trying to out recommend each other. Good for them! If that makes them happy encourage them and take the recommendations and referrals. Smile and tell them that you’ll review your massive Rolodex and get back to them. Don’t! The more exclusive you are with recommendations the more value they will have!
Using recommendation more sparingly than anyone else will make you a more desirable contact.
Black Market Networking Tip #4
Never Join A Club That Would Accept You As A Member!
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Groucho Marx
Groucho has this exactly right! Remember you are here for the benefits NOT the work! If you focus on what you’re really after – the cream of the crop – then one or two visits, as a guest, will garner all the contacts you need to get 90% of the benefits of membership. Let other people pay for the overhead! There are very, very, very few paid membership networking groups that are worth joining – evaluate carefully.
The only exception is industry groups. If you work in a specific industry and there is a formal industry association you MUST join!
Keep focused and don’t waste your time and money!
Black Market Networking Tip #5
Don’t organise your own events
Any opportunity to present yourself in front of a group of business people is an opportunity to build your brand. Instead of setting up your own free seminars look for every opportunity to speak at networking events and create an audience for your paid seminars. Prepare intensively and present a compelling reason for the networker to want to do business with you. To be a great speaker focus your presentation on the needs and aspirations of your audience. Make your listeners feel important and they will reward you with their attention. If you’re not speaking then be certain that every action makes a positive statement – it is all theatre and you are always being judged – remember that!
Use other’s networks to strengthen your own! Let them do the work!
Here is the takeaway!
Wherever you have a lot of people engaging in any activity most will deliver a mediocre performance – this is true in networking, online poker or pulling!
These situations are ripe for exploitation by anyone who puts just in just a little more thought and effort!
Put in a little extra effort and attention, use your intellect, and you will take home the business, the jackpot and the girl!