Networking – the one activity that a lot of marketers should learn to develop. You see, establishing a connection with many business prospects is very important. As part of your lead generation efforts, you need to meet as many people as possible and identify as many potential sales leads as you can. This is something that sounds easy, right? After all, you can meet prospects anywhere, like in trade fairs, symposiums, seminars, even inside that coffee shop in the next street corner. The problem here is this is the one activity that is most likely to fail you. Why?
You network too much.
Now, before start protesting that this is wrong, that connecting with hundreds of people is essential to networking, you have to first consider what you are after in networking. What are you aiming for? If you just want to spread your name to the most number of people, then your argument will stand. But if you are after relationship-building and conversion of prospects into B2B leads, then you are doing networking wrong. You are spreading yourself to much, meeting and interacting with too many people. Just imagine butter spread on a slice of bread, spread too thin. It ruins the butter’s flavor and it does not do anything good for the bread. It is the same thing with you and over-networking.
Let us face it, we have a limited capacity for establishing and maintaining relationships. While the numbers vary, research done by the University College in London revealed that our brain is only capable of handling no more than one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty connections. This only shows just how far we can go before we go nuts. If we want to expand our network, we need to use add more capacity. To use the bread and butter analogy, we have to get another spoon of butter to fully and satisfyingly cover that slice of bread.
So, what does it say about our appointment setting efforts, which also hinges on our networking skills?
Basically, we have to focus more on quality over quantity. There is no point adding all those people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social networking tool you are using if you cannot manage them all properly. If you need to get more people, you need to add on your marketing team’s capacity. Hire more marketers or networkers. Let them concentrate on only a specific set of people. Nurture these leads, stay with them, fan the flames of interest, etc. Once you have successfully done that, you can then proceed with asking for the sale.
Now, if you have issues about more in-house marketers (maybe due to budget or logistics), that should not be a problem at all. You can always outsource these tasks to professional lead generation or telemarketing agency. They would be most helpful in helping you connect with others, and turn them into paying customers later on. It is not a bad investment, as long as you work with the right agency.