What does networking mean to you?

As usual for me on a Sunday, I spent the very first bit of last Sunday morning browsing Facebook and The Observer, pretty much simultaneously.
There were a few things in both which struck a chord with me, and Adam Stevens Facebook update inspired me to write this blog.
This is what he said:
“When i think about it , I haven’t built a network but have forged lasting connections, people who help, trust, and care and allow me to reciprocate. Super powerful.”
And it got me thinking. What is business networking really all about?
Most people come along to networking events looking for business. And if the business isn’t forthcoming quickly then people sometimes give up.
What Adam is discovering, as a lot of people do, is that the return on investment on networking sometimes has a long tail. A lot of the individual interactions along the way won’t have an immediate ROI. But you don’t know immediately what will happen with those relationships in the future, when the people you meet will need what you’re selling, when the penny will drop for them that you could add value or when they come across someone they might refer to you.
Anyone can build what they think is a network. Anyone can gather loads of names on LinkedIn or Facebook, anyone can build a big mailing list from the people they meet. And then you can market to your list, so that’s alright?
But turning that network into something as “super powerful” as Adam believes (rightly) his is takes regular effort and constant nurturing over and above just marketing your business to the people you meet.
With all of the tools we have in 2014 to continue that process it astounds me that more people don’t tend and nurture the relationships within their networks. The ability to keep in touch in a meaningful way using Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn – and backing up those interactions on the ‘phone or in person, is just huge, and yet most people still don’t utilise the opportunities fully or properly.
Think about your networking activity this last week. Have you been doing the right things to move your relationships forward and strengthen your network? Or have you just attended events?
PS – if you haven’t checked out Adam’s business on Facebook you really should, you’ll find it here – Intelligent Eating.

“I implemented one more thing from the Retreat and it has resulted in a new client which gives me a positive ROI within 6 days”
Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
Samantha Rollins, Trinity Accountants