I was at a recent networking meeting in which the group was discussing prospecting methods to use, especially when business is slow, when the pipeline seems empty. The answers were as diverse as the businesses and the personalities of the people participating. Regardless of the specifics, everyone was trying to catch fish. Some were looking for Moby Dick, others for “Jaws”, and others for a little nibble on the bait.
Have you ever watched the TV series, “The Deadliest Catch”? The storyline is about crab fishermen in Alaska attempting to catch their season quota. The show follows several crews as they put out to sea. Each ship heads off to the fishing grounds with experience as their best guide. There are no promises that what was successful last season will be successful this season. These hi-tech ships are laden with GPS, sonar, and what ever technological advancement is available. Regardless, they drop their traps into the deep laden with bait and hope and pray that they were successful. Sometimes they win, others, they lose.
This is a lot like networking. There is no clear division between success and failure. Success comes by continued effort. It comes by changing tactics and strategies. It comes by changing your location. It comes with patience and perseverance. It comes with ACTION. It also comes with EXPERIENCE.
I want to look at a few of the suggestions my colleagues in the room suggested as actions they take to fill their pipeline.
Social Media
A few people said that they increase their outreach via Social Media. They then listed increased activity on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their objective was to blindly reach out to people in their current sphere of influence and network. It is founded on the hope that people they “know” or are connected to see the message concurrent with a need.
Direct Mail
Some suggested a direct mail campaign, either snail mail or electronic. The purpose is to place your name in front of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Once again, hoping to find the “Honey Hole”, the place where fish are biting. This is somewhat inline with the fishermen on “The Deadliest Catch”. History and experience suggest that this is a good place to fish, usually. It comes with no guarantees. How often do the nets come up empty? How do you measure success?
This was suggested as a means to refine the contact list. With this approach, the person is not seeking the masses, but only looking for the Great White Shark, JAWS. It sounded as if the business would seek as much information about demographics, needs, perspective customers/clients/businesses. When “sufficient” data was collected and analyzed, some form of contact would be made. This is a slow and arduous process with an extremely specific target. This approach suggests that the business is fishing for Moby Dick, the big fish. It may not fill the void in the immediate pipeline, yet can ultimately yield great results. It is an obvious question to ask, “Do you have the ability to wait for the big fish?”
Previous Customers
Touching base with previous customers makes a lot of sense. There are great systems available to simplify this action. There are untold numbers of CRMs, Customer Relationship Management systems that help organize and establish consistent routines to “Touch” your past clients. A very positive aspect of this is the ability to touch the masses quickly.

Networking Events
Formal or at least organized events allow businesses to be in front of others. It’s an opportunity for face to face interaction with others. A downside is that the success of these events is limited to the number of people/businesses you can meet at any particular event. Additionally, these events become the first step in a lengthy process of developing a relationship. Instantaneous results should never be expected. Alas, it takes us back to the challenge, how do you fill the pipeline?

The Cop Out
Each approach has its pros and cons. Each method can and will yield results. There is no “Right” or “Wrong” solution. The ultimate challenge rests in the question, “How long will it take?”.
It all takes me back to fishing.
• What kind of bait are using?
• Are you fishing in the right pond?
• Are you using the right tool to catch the fish? Are you using a hook to catch one fish at a time, or a net to catch a large quantity all at once?
• How many fish do you have to throw back because they don’t meet the requirements?
• How patient are you?
• How adaptable are you to change my tactics?
• When is the right time to change tactics?
If you are looking for the definitive answer from me, you are fishing in the wrong location or using the wrong bait.

FYI, you need a license to go fishing. You need energy to go networking.

Good luck with your networking!!!

.#networking  #Fishing   #Relationshipmarketing