Quality or Quantity: the eternal networking debate

Quality or Quantity: the eternal networking debate

So, what’s your networking preference…and is there a place for both quantity and quality?

Do you view networking as a numbers a game; meet enough people and you’re bound to generate prospects, populate your sales funnel, engage that ideal supplier or find a solutions provider for yourself or a contact.

Or are you after quality, both in the type of contact you seek so that they are an appropriate match with your goals but also in terms of having quality connection time to really engage and establish the foundation on which to build a relationship. Developing a sizeable network of contacts is important for a host of reasons but collecting cards like they’re sweets and cramming the CRM full of new names to market to ignores the human side of why and how we engage with others. Quite feasibly, if you’re meeting a whole bunch of people each week but saying your networking isn’t working for you, you may be in the wrong environment, doing/saying the wrong things, or chasing quantity not quality which ultimately will waste your limited networking time and budget.

The quantity versus quality debate evidently depends entirely on why you’re networking in the first place and we’ve blogged previously about the ‘Why’s’ of networking (view article here).

Success in Numbers

Colony’s strapline since it was founded in 2010 has always been ‘Success in Numbers’. That’s not because we’ve ever believed in chasing attendee numbers but because we believe in the power of what happens when fellow business owners unite, invest time on one another, begin new conversations, take each other’s sales messages beyond the room and pay it forward, and engage beyond the event. It only takes one quality contact to set this snowball in motion.

Additionally, quality engagement allows you to create a tribe. Everyone needs a tribe – whether it’s in a personal arena having friends or family to support, or in a work environment having colleagues and reliable sources of information, mentoring and training. For businesses owners, tribes of like-minded contacts met through quality networking can offer connections, knowledge-sharing and support. After ten years networking, I still love the fact that at each networking event I attend, my own or others, someone I don’t yet know will likely enter my personal or business life and enrich it somehow.  I’d take 2-3 of these quality connections over 20-30 tentative conversations any day of the week and I don’t believe that there is ever a wasted conversation in networking. You never know who knows whom.

Exceptions to the rule

Most small business networkers I know stand on the quality side of the line and the feedback we get from our events is that they’ve acquired excellent professional contacts as well as friendships because our format offers sufficient open and structured time to make quality connections. Ironically then, I always find it intriguing that one of our most successful events is speed networking which we run just twice a year (next event 28 April). It allows attendees to meet a large number of people in a short space of time and, on the face of it, seems to be all about quantity.

Speed networking is almost an exception to the quality v quantity rule. It legitimises the role that quantity has to play in networking as it can facilitate multiple introductions and be a great selection tool in deciding which conversations to pursue. Quantity and seemingly superficial, low-connectivity networking actually has its place in the speed networking circuit. Rightly or wrongly, quantity here becomes the pre-cursor for quality. In the same way you may have a shortlist of desirables if you speed or online-date, in speed networking you can also rapidly shortlist who you wish to pursue further business synergies with. The trick, of course, is to decide what you plan to say to be remembered, what you’re looking for yourself, your criteria for any short-listing, how you’ll work efficiently to recall info and follow up, and how you’ll engage your gut instinct and intuition in the same way as you might in personal circumstances.

Whatever your preference is in networking – speedy or slow, online or face-face, quantitative or qualitative – enjoy your networking and everything that it may bring to your business and personal lives.

By Kirsty James, Owner, The Colony Networking Group

Colony works with small businesses on networking strategy and planning, to produce networking essentials plans and to signpost to suitable groups and events. It also runs mixed-gender and female-only networking events of its own in the Warrington area and can organiser private bespoke events for clients.

For more info about Colony’s Warrington business events including our 28 April Speed Networking circuit, click here

To read further blog features from Colony, click here