Of course they are slow because networking is a long-term investment. You build up layers of interaction with people, which builds relationships. Usually, this takes time. Discovering what you have in common, exchanging information of value, and building trust is a process. It's an aspect of networking - like getting fit - that frustrates us. We want results now.
"I went to your mixer and didn't make one sale. So I'm never going again." Not making this up. I have had people say this to me.
On the other hand, it absolutely can be fast! Haven't you made a sale, gotten a referral, or made a new friend almost instantly? You just showed up and there they were, looking for you, your product, or a suggestion for you. We're like rats in a lab who get a tidbit just often enough that we keep pressing the lever.
"I went to your Speed Networking event and picked up two new clients, right off the bat. I'm going to every one of these you have." I've heard this more than the first quote.
"Now wait just a minute", you might say. "You experienced networkers are always harping on the need for patience and building rapport. Instant results don't just happen to anyone."
That's right. They don't happen to "just anyone." They happen once in a blue moon to the lucky. But they happen much more frequently to people who:
- Invest in the social medium. Such as Twitter. I might have been tweet-tweet-tweeting and then suddenly I find new Chamber members, seemingly out of the blue, but really based on the foundation I built.
- Know exactly what they have to offer and what they need. I.e. clear value propositions save time.
- Have built a reputation with the established people who recommend them to the new people. Again, you see this extensively on Twitter.
- Don't push for the end-result without having a foundation of some kind.
- They also watch like a hawk for opportunity and move swiftly when it appears.