Remember when you were 5 years old? What did you like to do most in the summers? If you were anything like me, it was all about the swimming pool! You could hardly get me out of it. My fingers looked like wrinkly raisins and I was completely water logged by the end of the day. But as I began to grow up, the shallow end of the pool began to get boring. I saw all of the bigger kids jumping off of the diving bored, splashing and having fun in the deep end, but I just couldn’t work up enough courage to make the leap. I finally did may that leap, when my friend Joe gave me a swift shove off of the diving board. Obviously, since I am writing this post, I am still here and I lived through the experience. All it took was a little nudge from my friend for me to experience the wonders of swimming in both ends of the swimming pool. With that one experience, I was never bored again and continued to enjoy many summers in the city pool.
For many of us business networking is very similar to the swimming pools of our youth. We find a specific group that we are comfortable with and spend all of our time in that one area. Maybe it is the type of networking group, or the people involved, but you enjoy it so much that you dedicate all of you time to the one group, not even considering what you may be missing. However, most business professionals will eventually get bored with the group. They see all of the same people everywhere they go, the referrals seem to have dried up and it just isn’t as inspiring as it used to be. Just like many 5 year olds, if you find yourself in this position, it is likely because you are only swimming in the shallow end of the pool!
To create a truly successful word of mouth referral business, you must get involved in a few different networking organizations. And they all can’t look and feel the same (going from the shallow end of one pool to the shallow end of another doesn’t solve the problem.) Involvement in a variety of groups allows you to enjoy the benefits that each of them has to offer as well as build relationships with a wider variety of professionals. You will quickly recognize opportunities to connect and refer individuals using the relationships in your other groups. Without this wide variety of relationships, many professionals find it difficult to bring value to the others that are only swimming in the shallow end of the pool. They in turn rarely see value for themselves.
The analogy of the shallow and deep ends of the pool are also significant when measuring the value of our relationships. Professionals only swimming in one networking pool tend to build much more shallow relationships than those swimming in both ends of the networking pool. The deep and meaningful relationships built by experienced networkers is in part due to the value that they are bringing to those around them. They find it much easier to make connections and build these deep relationships when they are swimming in the entire pool, not just one small corner.
So, if you are finding yourself getting a little bored with your business networking or not seeing the results that you desire, maybe it is due to the shallow end of the pool? Take the leap into other groups throughout the area and you’ll likely begin to experience their many benefits. But I wouldn’t wait too long before venturing into the deep end of the pool. Someone may just pass by and give you a shove!