Can You Network Too Much? Yes!
Can you do too much networking? Can you belong to too many networking groups?
The answer is YES!
There are a lot of professionals out there who like to go to as many networking events/groups as they possibly can. Many have the belief that the more networking you do the more results you will see, and unfortunately that just isn’t the case.
While I do think many professionals need to invest more time in their networking efforts, as I wrote about HERE, there is a point of diminishing returns. If all you do is run from networking meeting, to networking meeting than you are more likely wasting your time.
We consistently talk about the purpose of networking being about building strong business relationships, and there are many types of networking avenues/tools that allow you the opportunity to do that. However, in order to build these strong relationships there is a level of loyalty involved in that building process, and when we just run from group to group we risk destroying the loyalty, and will struggle building an effective referral relationship.
When you are seen as the person who jumps from group to group to group the perception others will have of you is that of the person who is just looking to push their business and doesn’t care about helping others. People will think that you have no loyalty to anyone, and that it would be a waste of their time to try to pass you referrals because it likely won’t be reciprocal.
Now, this issue is more apparent in certain types of networking organizations, particularly if you are a member of structured networking group, specifically if it is a one person per profession group.
I understand the desire to belong to many of these groups, as we believe we are expanding our base. However, when you are a member of more than one of these types of groups you actually will do more harm to your results than you will do good. This is because of the issue mentioned above. If I am a fellow member of yours in one group, but I know you also have someone in my profession in another committed group, then I will always question who you are truly committed to. I will always wonder if you are not passing me referrals, or only some of your referrals, etc. This will lead me to not want to pass you referrals, or only a small portion of my referrals. This will be the same with the other member in my profession in your other group.
This issue extends beyond just structured networking though. I will share a story that I have seen happen recently involving a social networking group. The Executive Director of this organization went out of their way to help one particular member. This member was looking to build his speaking business, and this Executive Director got them a big opportunity to speak at a large event the organization was having. They even got this person in against the protest of others. Well only a couple of months later not only was this member not attending this organization’s events, but was seen posting on Facebook (be careful with the online tools) about another networking organization and how their events are the best, etc. Instantly this member lost all credibility with this person, and the whole organization, killing any chance of repeat opportunities or referrals. The interesting thing is now this member is blasting about ANOTHER networking group and how great they are.
Again, most people need to do more networking, but there is a point where you can be perceived in a negative light. You can lose all the credibility you built with people very quickly if you are perceived as being disloyal, uncommitted, and self-centered. There are many networking opportunities to take advantage of, but don’t become the person who is known for just going to event to event but not getting any referrals from any of them.