Business The Importance of Networking - our Top 10 Tips and 5 Cardinal Sins

Marketing - The Importance of Networking

One of the most fundamental parts of Marketing is Networking. Good networkers can and do rely on their networks for new business, finding staff, promotion and even for advice and mentoring. I often hear people say they don’t need to network because business is good, however we’ve seen the economy turn on a dime, or legislation change an entire industry overnight. Those who have trusted and strong networks in place at times of uncertainty can rely on their network to get them through. The alternative? Often it’s to shut shop. Networking should be important to everyone who is a business owner or who is in a high-level position.

The most successful people look for and build trusted networks. Everyone else just looks for work.

Why is Networking so Effective?

Even in the digital age, humans are programmed to seek out contact with each other – it’s just part of our genetic make-up. This comes from our ancestors who needed each other to survive. Villages, towns and eventually cities formed because our ancestors worked out they had a better chance of survival if they all stuck together. They became more productive and more successful if they used their skills to create items and swap them for things they needed from their peers. As populations grew, communities began to specialise in their skill sets. Some farmed wheat and animals, while others focused on manufacturing. This shift in production gave birth to the Industrial Revolution, and none of this could have been achieved without communities of people working together to achieve a common goal – a higher standard of living.

More recently, with the digital revolution, we have gone backwards in some ways when it comes to human contact. We rely more and more on social media or email to communicate with others. What does that mean in terms of Marketing your business? It makes it harder for people to evaluate if they want to do business with you when they have never had personal contact with you. As humans we rely on social cues to evaluate trust and connectedness. The evaluation of these social cues is often described as a “gut feeling” or feeling like you “clicked” with someone. This is near impossible to achieve without meeting someone in person and therefore not engaging in face to face contact with your peers can limit your business potential.

People are more likely to do business with someone they have met, and also who appears like-minded and belongs to the same network as them. Why? Let’s look at the psychology of in-groups.


The term “in-groups” derives from a sociological theory called Social Identity Theory. This theory explains that when people belong to a group that includes like-minded people, they psychologically favour other members, and have a sense of belonging to the group and the members within it. This is one of the reasons regular attendance to networking groups is so effective, because as a member of the In-Group you are given opportunities and referrals that you wouldn’t have had access to as a member of the Out-Group. In-Groups aren’t clique’s - they are a collective sense of belonging and when working well, empower and support all members.

Networking Stats

Still not convinced it’s that important? Well here are some statistics on Networking, conducted by various researchers including HubSpot and LinkedIn.

  • 85% of jobs are filled through connections met through Networking. Vanessa from ShireWomen is a perfect example of this – all the jobs she’s had for years have come about through her network contacts
  • 72% of people say their impression of someone is impacted by their handshake, and in turn impacts their desire to do business with the person in the future. While at ShireWomen we don’t judge you on your handshake and are happy if you don’t even want to shake hands at all, male dominated networks will and do expect you to shake hands, and will judge you on it - whether consciously or subconsciously!
  • The close-rate for in-person meetings is 41%. That’s HUGE!
  • Online and phone close-rates are only 2% - 5%. If you’re only trying to contact people digitally, then you’re missing out a huge slice of potential business
  • 80% of successful business owners say regular networking correlates to their business success and revenue.

Successful Networkers – Just How do they do it? Our 10 best Networking Qualities


1. They Listen

Many people get nervous about attending networking meetings because they worry about what they need to say. The most effective thing to do when networking is to listen. Listening means you can hear about other people’s businesses, evaluate if they are like-minded, and hear about their client base. Most importantly, you want to work out if you want to stay in contact with them or not. Do you “click”?

2. They Follow Up

We see people make great connections at ShireWomen, but we get frustrated when we hear at the next meeting they didn’t follow up with each other! You have to work at business relationships, just like you do with personal ones. Follow up with everyone you make a connection with, regardless if you think you’re going to do business with them or not. At our last Coffee & Connect meeting there were 60 people in the room. It would be reasonable to assume that every person at that meeting had at least 50 contacts each. That means that in the room there were potentially 3000 contacts available. Those contacts can’t be accessed without the gatekeepers who were standing in that room.

3. They Identify Needs

A misconception about networking is that it’s all about selling yourself and your business. It isn’t. It’s about listening to people talk and identifying their needs and pain-points so you can work out if you can do business together, or sympathise with a common issue. Either way you’re building a rapport.

4. They Offer Solutions

If you’ve listened effectively and identified people’s needs, you can offer solutions. An email or phone call saying “I was thinking about the issue we were talking about, and I think I might have a solution for you” is a good place to start. If you offer solutions when you first meet them, make sure you follow up with them to arrange a time to catch up and take it a step further.

5. They Don’t Recite a Sales Pitch

Do you like to be sold to? I’m guessing the answer is a firm no. There’s a reason the used car salesman has a bad reputation – hard selling is no longer effective. It makes everyone uncomfortable and it usually has the opposite effect to the desired one. Talk to someone at a networking meeting like you would an old friend you hadn’t seen in years. Think of the “what do you do?” question as the same as an old friend asking you “so what are you up to these days?”. Genuine beats rehearsed sales lines any day of the week.

6. They are Conversational

Think of it as two normal people having a normal conversation without expectation of sales or referrals. This normal conversational approach makes everyone more relaxed and more comfortable.

7. They are Regulars

This is a big one. Think about how many times you need to visit a café or pub before the staff know your name and have your drink ready when you walk in. Is it 10 times? More? The point is, it doesn’t happen in an instant. To gain recognition and trust takes time, and to do that you need to be seen repeatedly.

8. They Understand it Takes Time

We’ve had a few people attend our networking events once or twice in the past, and when we follow them up they say they didn’t make sales in those couple of times they attended and don’t want to come again. Others have said they met someone they didn’t like, and therefore it put them off.

If your expectations are that you’ll make instant sales and will like everyone in the room then your expectations are just not realistic.

It takes time to get to know people and for them to trust you, and just like life, you won’t click with everyone you meet. Also keep in mind that you may not meet anyone you want to connect with one week, but might meet several the next. One to two thirds of people attending our networking meetings have never been before. That means a potential of 40 potential new connections each meeting.

9. They Build Lasting and Trusted Relationships

How? By offering advice when people need it, and making the effort to catch up with their network. They refer their clients and friends and this is reciprocated both ways. Phone calls, personal emails, texts and coffee meetings are all important.

10. They Support Each Other

They go to each others events, award ceremonies or information nights. When times are tough they offer each other emotional support.

Why is this Successful?

  • Personal Familiarity works the same as brand recognition. It builds trust and keeps you front of mind
  • Following up and maintaining relationships increases the chances people will do business with you over someone else – again because you’re front of mind, and also because you’ve built trust
  • No-one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to hear solutions to their problems
  • Putting in regular effort leads to rewards further down the track. You can almost guarantee that when you’re stressing about where and when the next client is going to come, your network will come through and refer someone to you. It happens all the time!

Cardinal Sins of Networking - 5 don'ts!

Just to recap, I’ve put together the 5 cardinal sins of networking:

  1. Outdated pushy sales pitches
  2. Not following up (use a CRM like Capsule to help you keep track if need be)
  3. Concluding they don’t need your business 
    1. What about their clients needs?
    2. What about their business contacts?
    3. 60 people in our meetings with 50 contacts each means 3000 potential contacts for you!
  4. Expecting instant results and throwing in the towel – be realistic – it’s going to take you 6 months of attending the same networking meetings to start to get traction
  5. Talking about yourself and how fabulous your clients (or you) think you are. Narcissism is not a good look on anyone…

10 Top Tips to Network Successfully

  1. Pick a Network (or Networks) of like-minded people where you feel comfortable
  2. Go regularly – understand it might take a minimum of 6 meetings to gain traction
  3. Work on your Handshake. Be firm and confident like the person you are!
  4. Follow up with EVERYONE you meet and add them on LinkedIn. If you don’t have LinkedIn – setup a profile
  5. Write notes straight after in the car – who you need to follow up with and when. You can use a CRM like Capsule to help you (get in touch with us for help implementing Capsule)
  6. Maintain the relationship – this is NOT achieved by just adding them to your Mailing List. Personal email and / or phone call and arranging a time to catch up for coffee
  7. Like & follow their Business Facebook / Twitter / Instagram pages so you have something to talk to them about when you see them next. Their posts will give you an insight into what they do and how
  8. Offer them help or refer clients to them if they are a good fit
  9. If you do business with them and they are great – write a recommendation for them on Facebook and Google. Recommend them on LinkedIn too. This encourages reciprocation and makes you front of mind
  10. See your business grow!

And if this all sounds too scary and daunting – get in touch with us for help. That’s what we’re here for! Email us at