Archive for 2010

Seasons Greetings

Enjoy the Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon...

Have a great Christmas!

Dave Clarke

Are you networking with the right people?

I met someone last week at one of my regular networking groups. When he explained what he did I advised him that the group may not be great for him and his business. He sold cosmetics and the group was made up of professionals and providers of business services.

He said, rightly, that everyone there either used or knew people that used the types of products he sold. I said that was true, but they were all there because they shared the same target market. They were not selling directly to consumers of domestic products so the best network for him would be with others selling directly to the same domestic consumers.

Successful networking is all about building relationships with the right people. A good place to start when selecting a networking group is to find one where the other members sell to the same target market as you.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

What is a business networking group?

At a dinner party a couple of weeks ago one of the other guests asked me what I do. I used the phrase 'Business Networking Group' in my reply and she said, "What's a Business Networking Group?"

I was a little thrown at first, but realised I shouldn't be. I think we often assume that everyone knows more about whatever it is we do than they actually do. I met someone on a Referral Institute training course yesterday who had once written technical manuals. He said that the instructions included the advice to write so that an 8 year old can understand.

Wikipedia describes Business Networking as 'a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity'.

I realised that I needed to explain a little bit more.

I explained that there are now many more people running their own business than ever before. Many of them are specialists in what they do and do not have any marketing or sales people. They rely on personal recommendation or word of mouth for their business. Their main problem is that they need more of these opportunities than they currently have. Many of the older business support services in the public and private sector do not really help these business people with generating positive word of mouth.

Any group exists because the members share and are committed to a common cause. The common cause for the members of a business networking group will usually be helping each other in business. This may be around sharing business, support and information (or all 3). It is mainly the need to generate more business by recommendation that has lead to the growth in the market of specialist business networking groups.

A business networking group is a club where the common cause is helping each other become more successful in business.

The most important thing in an effective business networking group is that the members don't just share the same needs. They must be in a position to really help each other. That will often mean that the members share similar target markets and provide similar value services. Success is then down to the commitment and contribution they make.

Would an 8 year old understand how you describe what you do?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

The small business advantage in the Digital Age

I write this from a train heading into London. I am on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The purpose of the event is billed as 'to look at why a "Digital Mindset" and Digital Coaching will grow your business.' The tag line for the Ecademy website is now 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age'.

If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market.

Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.

Contrast this with the news furore over the last few days about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs the revelations, if true, show some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business.

You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before.

Be yourself!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Think of networking as a system & not an event

I was at an event recently where someone said that the owners of small businesses often operate a really unstructured approach to marketing. This is often an irregular series of one off initiatives in relation to short term needs. The problem with this approach is that each new activity takes a lot of effort and does not build on the things that have been done before. It leads to a lot of wasted time and frustration.

Many business owners and professionals adopt a similar approach to networking. Attending loads of events when new business is needed with infrequent activity when they are busy. Both marketing and networking are much more productive when done systematically.

Instead of networking like crazy when you need something adopt a simple, straightforward, systematic approach. This means building your network rather than meeting lots of people infrequently. Take the time to build the right relationships with the right people for you and your business. Then take the time to understand what they need and help them achieve it. Don't forget to let them know what you need and how they can help you. This approach means you can invest your time effectively at fewer events and leave more time to doing what you really enjoy and get paid to do.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Are you building strong ties with your network?

In The quality of your network really matters I wrote about recent research into influencing behaviour through social networks. This research highlighted the importance of building close, strong ties to people in your network.

In his keynote at the F5 Conference earlier this year Malcolm Gladwell is quoted as Saying,

"If social media tools are going to make a meaningful commitment to the way our world is run you have to remember to build trust, to build institutions and to build strong ties."

Mark Smiciklas of the Intersection Marketing Blog regularly produces some great visuals in his articles. Here are the ones he used to illustrate the Malcolm Gladwell quote in his article on Malcolm Gladwell & The Future of Social Media a few months ago.

As I have written before,

"Success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Building a business by referring others first

In a recent post I suggested it was a good idea to work out who else is needed when you do business. This simple exercise means you can work out which other businesses give you the most referral opportunities. Both for giving and receiving.

Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I could give an example. Some years ago I was involved in an Internet start up. We provided high speed internet connectivity to business clients in City of London in the days before broadband! Before we opened for business we built relationships with other providers of services in the Internet, IT and Telecoms space. Services that would be complementary to ours and that our clients and potential clients might also need. Some of these may have been competitors in some respects, but we felt that if they were right for a client then we would not be and vice versa.

These other businesses included providers of:

  • consumer ISP services - we were b2b only.
  • computer and computer network equipment - we did not sell this equipment.
  • email and internet software.
  • internet security.
  • computer cabling suppliers.
  • data storage.
  • telephony and telephony equipment.
  • e-commerce.
  • web design.
  • internet hosting.
Most of the time when we spoke with potential clients they might not need our services at the time, but they needed one of these others and we referred them. This kept us front of mind for both our potential clients and those we referred. 

Over time all of our business came through referrals from these sources. The 'potential clients' became clients or referred others as a result of the help we provided for them. Those we referred then stated doing the same for us. Many of these relationships also resulted in more collaboration, but that's another story...

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Who else is needed when you do business?

Last week I was with a group of Professionals and Small Business Owners in Birmingham learning more about Referral Marketing at the Referral Institute's UK & Ireland Conference. The theme of the day was about how you can dramatically increase your referred revenue. One topic covered by Trey McAlister was about understanding 'Contact Sphere Professionals'. These people are in a position to regularly refer each other.

It is worth spending some time identifying this group for your business. Who else is often needed when you do business? What opportunities do you uncover as you go about your work? What other opportunities could you uncover as you go about your work?

This process of identifying them also gives you an idea of the opportunities you have for referring and building your inner network. As you do this for them you are demonstrating how they can do the same for you and others. You are advocating them and providing the motivation for them to do it for you.

You really can get all the business you need through a close knit group of like minded business owners like this. That is provided you are all committed to the success of each other and are all in a position to regularly provide opportunities to each other. You need to meet regularly to strengthen your relationships and exchange opportunities. Why not find a convenient networking group that you can do this in?

You are also adding value to your client relationships by showing them you have their success at heart and not just your own.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Do you nurture your network like a good garden?

Nurturing your network can be similar to tending your garden. In a garden different trees, plants and shrubs require differing amounts of attention to enable them to grow and thrive. It's the same with your network. Some relationships need very little maintenance, some require much more at the start and others need constant attention.

Many people, though, think of networking as being all about connecting with as many people as possible. This approach leaves you very little time to build the right relationships. Your garden would soon be over-run with weeds if you neglected that personal care and attention. At this time of year some extra attention is required to ensure the health of your garden for the Winter and in preparation for Spring. In his column in the Financial Times on Saturday Mike Southon offered some advice on networking including some "radical pruning of the people in our on-line networks".

The article is worth a read and as Mike wrote, "Any network is all about quality rather than quantity, the depth rather than the breadth of your connections."

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

An offline networking lesson from Linkedin

Many business people are comfortable with Linkedin. The online tools seem based around the way networking has always worked offline. Used well the Linkedin tools add value to your offline networking.

In a peer to peer boardroom session recently we were discussing how someone could get in front of good prospects for a new high value consulting service. One of the difficulties this person had was helping his network identify referral opportunities. We got the person to identify some real companies he could work with. We then searched linkedin for contacts in those companies. Linkedin showed those in our existing networks who were connected to these 'prospects'. The action the person took away from the boardroom was to try and get introductions to these prospects via his network. Linkedin makes that whole process very open & simple.

It can be very difficult offline to know who our network knows. One way to help is to identify the the actual companies you want to work with. Then tell your network who they are, how you help and why you want to be introduced.

Once you are in a trusted relationship it is well worth setting aside regular one to one time where you explore each others connections and the opportunies within.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Who are the best introducers?

I was running the NRG Bath lunch yesterday. Small group but really great people. In the morning I ran a session for the group members where we were helping each other work out who their best introducers were. They knew their target market but found it difficult, like most people, to work out who else knew that market.

As we went round the table it became clear that there was one category of introducers that were really desirable. They are the 'trusted advisors', those business professionals who help the business owner/director with specific issues. They might be outsourced finance directors, accountants, business coaches or virtual PAs. They all share the same thing - they understand the business owner's drivers and issues and they have that person's ear.

That's easy then. Just aim to meet those 'trusted advisors' and wait for that steady stream of referrals. Of course it doesn't work like that. It is one thing identifying these special people, it is another thing getting them to refer you. That's where relationship building comes in. Only when they know you, like you, trust you will they consider referring you. And only when they are motivated to do so.

To start that process of building these critical advocate relationships put yourself in the shoes of John F Kennedy and, to paraphrase "ask not what they can do for you but what you can do for them".

Good Networking!

Martin Davies

You have a Linkedin profile so now what?

I get asked regularly by business people and professionals about using Linkedin. Here is a short video from the clever folks at Commoncraft that explains it all in very simple language.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Put yourself in their shoes

Most weeks I meet someone who works on their own and who says something like, "I work with blue chips so need to be 'networking' with CEOs, CFOs, CTOs etc of Corporates, Blue Chips etc".

Stop for a moment and think about the responsibilities these CXO people have and their priorities. Where do you think meeting a bunch of people at a networking group fits? Instead of thinking about finding these people directly put yourself in their shoes. What are the things they worry about and who do they turn to for advice?

That will give you some idea of where to focus your networking efforts. With their other trusted advisers and suppliers!

Spend your time building relationships with these people. They are the ones that have influence with and access to your target market.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

How to amplify and not dilute your message

Why does Word of Mouth Marketing work so well?

That was the recent headline of an article by my colleague in NRG Business Networks, Martin Davies. Stuart Harris Replied on Twitter,

"WoM marketing is great because it's personal but the person isn't paid ("hire a liar") - they recommend or not from the heart".

The subject came up yesterday at a seminar on Linkedin before the NRG lunch in Swindon. We know, and research confirms, that a recommendation or referral from a trusted 3rd party is much more powerful than any direct message of yours.

That's why networking is not about broadcasting your message to as many people as possible. Neither is it about meeting as many people as you possibly can yourself. That just dilutes your effort.

Build strong relationships with a close trusted network. They will deliver those precious 3rd party recommendations and your message will be amplified many times over.

Good Networking

Dave Clarke

Are you talking enough with the people you already know?

One of the issues I hear most often from Directors and Professionals in small and medium sized businesses is how to generate business in new markets. I facilitated a peer to peer 'Boardroom' session recently where half of the issues raised were around this topic:

"How do I reach the companies I want to provide with a new service?"
"How do I get people to my networking group?"
"How do I get to relevant SMEs?"

Many people think the answer is to search for new connections on social networks or find new places to meet lots of people. The problem with this is you can very quickly run out of resources including your precious time. Stretching yourself very thinly in this way probably means getting to hardly know lots of people. Not the way to generate new business.

I spoke at an event recently on the big mistake that means networking doesn't work for many people. I asked the audience whether the best business came via recommendation and they agreed. I asked if they agreed that people recommend people in business that they know, like, rate and trust. They agreed again so I also asked whether they thought a good networking event was one with people they mostly didn't know. They agreed with that too and that is very often where the problem begins. Getting to know people takes time and the vast majority of people you meet once will remain as strangers.

The best way to get to the people you don't know is not by yourself. It is through word of mouth. It is by getting to know and supporting your close network even better than you do now. Grow advocates amongst them and they will recommend you to the people you don't know yet.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Your network is the biggest asset in your business

Over the last couple of years many small business owners and professionals have discovered for the first time that business is about downs as well as ups. Fortunately for the economy most of these people have a pretty positive outlook and will be helping lead us out of recession. There are those that will be doing this in an entirely different business from the one they were running three years ago. I was chatting with a few of these people last week.

One was talking about the need to meet lots of new people and make new connections for his new business. This is a common approach, but can make life much more difficult in building his new business. It ignores the most important asset he built during his previous business and those before it. His Network! People who know, like, rate and trust him because they have seen him in action and those he has made a real difference to.

Those are the people to focus attention on as they are already in a position to make those vital referrals and recommendations that produce the best new sales for any business, new or old.

Business may be temporary, but your Network is permanent!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Get more referrals by dominating your niche

In a recent NRG business networking event Chris Bose delivered an excellent talk on how to get more prospects for your business from your website. You can read the full text on his website. The elements of his process for getting more prospects are very useful in the context of generating more referrals in networking.

A good website is aimed at being found by relevant people and converting them to prospects and not just hits. In the same way successful networkers build relationships with potential advocates in the right market sectors rather than just randomly connecting with lots of people. They then motivate their Inner Network to generate referrals.

Niche Domination means aiming your website at only the targeted people who are interested in the specific stuff that you sell. In networking you want your network to remember the specific target market you solve problems for and the more precise you are the better.

If you need help in finding your niche then analyse who you work with today, who you enjoy working with and where the money comes from!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

The quality of your network really matters

The rise in popularity of social networking websites has seen many people adopt a different approach to building their network. They have followed the idea encouraged by a number of 'experts' that large numbers of followers or connections are all important. Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones, has just written about evidence that demonstrates this approach is wrong. His article about new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into 'The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network' reports on the findings. The research compared how behaviour was spread in two competing networks. It spread much farther and faster in the quality, structured network than in the random one.

As Graham writes, "this research confirms that a structured network of close ties is the most beneficial. It is evidence that quality of your network is more important than quantity."

This is more confirmation that success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you.

Graham includes some great networking tips in his article:

1. Concentrate on truly connecting with people, rather than building numbers. Focus on relationships, rather than popularity rankings.

2. Keep in regular touch with your network; don't just add occasional information - make your social network a key part of your daily activity.

3. Encourage your network participants to invite their real-life friends to join your specific group; getting people to support each other within your network appears to boost the entire network, the study finds.

4. Have structure to your network - rather than making it informal, provide leadership.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Why does Word of Mouth Marketing work so well?

Word of Mouth Marketing is fashionable and perceived to work exceptionally well in today’s world of information overload. But exactly why is it so powerful?

Here is the reason. Word of Mouth is all about what someone who is not perceived to have an axe to grind says about someone else’s product or service. We pay more attention to positive (and negative) comments from our friends and associates about all sorts of things than what we see, read or listen to in the media.

In today’s world successful marketing is all about speeding up the person’s decision making through the value of a third party’s recommendation. They are valued because:

• They are seen as independent;
• They have experienced the product or service and are seen as knowledgeable;
• Advice they give is seen as relevant because they are thinking of that person.

Let me give you a real example which brought this mind. Last week, at one of our networking lunches, one of our members Mark asked me if he should buy a service from another member Jill. It involved quite a lot of money and time so he wanted to be convinced he was making the right decision. “I want to make the right decision and I value your thoughts” is what he said. Knowing what was important to him and having experienced first-hand Jill’s service I was able to talk about her service at the right level and explain what benefit Mark might get.

In short I was valued because I had experienced the service, was seen as independent and was offering relevant and pertinent advice.

He bought it.

The moral of this story is that nothing sells better than a supporter who knows your service well and is motivated to help. At NRG we call them advocates and they are worth their weight in gold!

For more information read the NRG Advocacy Model.

Good Networking!

Martin Davies

The same rules apply for online and offline Word of Mouth

I have written before about online & offline networking needing similar approaches. Recent HP Labs social media research concludes that successful influence on twitter does not depend on a large number of followers. That for information to propagate in a network, individuals need to forward it to the other members, thus having to actively engage rather than passively read it.

This supports the behaviours we identified in our research into offline networking and how to proactively create positive word of mouth.

Success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

'Don't dive in' is not an excuse for doing nothing

I received a message via Twitter about my recent article, The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work. The person said she agreed with the article, but thought people may take the advice 'don't dive in' as an excuse for doing nothing.

My main point was that people often start networking with no end in mind. Put some thought into what you want and then get out there and join some networks. Find those groups with other business people who operate in similar markets to you. Commit to investing the time to develop relationships and create a network of advocates.

Many people miss out by not joining a group or joining much later than they should. If you put a little bit of effort into identifying the right places to network up front then you can join in as soon as you find them. If you attend a group & leave it for a few months before joining you are missing opportunities.

One thing is absolutely certain. If you do nothing you will get nothing!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Sorting out the Chaos

I was talking to an NRG member, Phil Cheesman, the other day. Phil was observing that he saw many business people leading fairly chaotic business lives.

They never seem to have time to sit back and think strategically about where the're going and how the're going to get there, let alone do anything substantial about it. Instead, they end up conducting a daily series of fire-fighting actions which leads to inefficiency, frustration and stress. In the worst-cases, the stress can manifest itself in tiredness, grumpiness, depression and deteriorating personal relationships.

He calls this the "chaotic business syndrome". Typical indicators are:

  • there are too many things you could/should be doing
  • you can't see the wood for the trees
  • you find it difficult to prioritise tasks effectively
  • you are "running hard to stay still"
  • you become forgetful and make mistakes
  • you're too busy to grow the business

If that sounds like you, you should consider early actions to escape from the spiral before it's too late.

The trouble is, when there are more things you could be doing than there are hours in the day to do them, how do you choose which tasks to do and which to drop or delegate when they all look equally important or can only be done by you? Well the obvious answer is to identify the really important tasks that have to be done by you and then focus on doing them. OK, so how do you do that?

Phil describes what can be done in his article Sorting out the Chaos. The process is called strategic management.

Good Networking!
Martin Davies

Is there a right time to leave a networking group?

This post was inspired when I was asked recently for a quote for a new book from Andy Lopata on when to leave a networking group.

There are times when you move on in business and different networking groups become more appropriate. If you are networking as part of an overall plan then you will be able to work out when to move on. My experience is that more people leave for the wrong reasons than the right reasons. Many people leave groups because they never really worked out why they should be there in the first place!

Then there are the people who do it for a year and stop because they think it isn’t working. The great shame is that they are usually at the point where their investment is about to reap rewards. They have become known, liked, rated and trusted. Instead of strengthening the relationships they have built they move on to start the whole process again with new people.

Most weeks I will be at an event and someone will ask where X or Y is because they have something for them. If I say they have left the group they almost always ask for a recommendation to somebody else even if I offer to pass their message on.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Be careful not to leave too early

After a really good networking meeting you will often see people still engrossed in conversations. Many of them will have their diaries to hand arranging meetings. It is this follow up activity in between networking meetings that really make the difference. If you are always rushing off right on time you might be missing out.

We noticed this happening after our NRG group meetings so we now set aside time in the meetings so everyone can be engaged in this activity. Next time you put a networking meeting in your diary try and leave some space beyond the formal end so you don't have to rush off.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work

Andy Lopata asked me recently to write an article on the mistakes that people make in business networking. This article is now published in Andy's newsletter at Fresh Business Thinking. As I researched the topic with my network and reflected on my experiences I realised there was one BIG mistake.

Business people often turn to networking at different times. Start ups will often network like crazy early on and established businesses will often start when traditional routes to market dry up. The thing they very often have in common is the idea that networking is the answer to their problem. This first and BIG mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking with a complete misunderstanding of what networking really is.

This activity often involves looking for opportunities to ‘network’ with lots of people. They attend group meetings (once) swapping business cards with everyone they can, broadcasting their message, chasing immediate transactions and moving on. They join online networks, put together a profile and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.

Some think they may need to do something differently and they may get some training into how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. They do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, twitter, linkedin, facebook et al. Again this doesn’t work and a few more conclude that networking doesn’t work.

It doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of networking groups out there with experienced business people that will help you avoid the mistakes and make sure networking does work for you and your business. For 10 tips on learning from the mistakes others have made go the to full article on The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Something to do with those business cards you collected

I was interrupted last week at a networking group meeting by someone who wanted to commend something to the group. Positive interruptions that enhance your message are always very welcome! He said it had been a really useful exercise to go through all the business cards he had collected over a couple years after reading the NRG workbook on developing your business networking plan.

He had separated these cards into the four categories suggested in the workbook. He uses Outlook to manage his contacts so he then created these categories in Outlook. He entered the details of any new contacts into his Outlook Address Book and then put all his contacts into those categories. This means he can now manage the interactions he has with his network more effectively. He can also see, at a glance, who he needs to focus his networking activity with.

The four categories of contacts are your Outer Network, your Resource Network, your Inner Network and your Advocate Network.

Your Outer Network is made up of the people that you have met, but have no real connection with. You don't know what you could do for them, but it is useful to have a record of where and when you met. You paths may well cross again and you make that connection.

Your Resource Network is made up of the people that you have met and you know them well enough to recognise they have a particular skill or offer a valuable service. You don’t want to spend more time in developing a relationship with them, but they are useful to introduce to other contacts when appropriate.

Your Inner Network is made up of the people that you have met, have had some sort of follow up and are building a relationship. They share a similar target market to you and probably provide a service that is complementary to yours. We will call them your Inner Network & it is spending time with these people that starts to make networking really work. One really efficient way of doing this is to ensure you belong to the same networking groups.

Your Advocate Network is the small group of people you would go out of your way to find introductions and referrals for. The people you advocate are the people you have already developed a relationship with and you know, like, rate and trust them. It is spending time doing things for these people where you get the highest networking returns.

Successful networkers have up to 30 people in their Inner Network & about 6 Advocates. Do you know who these people are for you?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

The secret to getting results when networking for business

I interviewed Chartered Accountant, Douglas Shanks, last week about generating results from business networking. When talking about referrals Douglas said "The secret to getting referrals is giving referrals so focus on what you can give".

That simple sentence contains the essence of a successful approach to building your network. Obviously you will want to benefit from the relationships you build with others and you want them to advocate and refer you when they can. This short podcast explains the importance of advocating others in your network first.

Listen here:

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Are you networking or building your network

In conversation with a couple of people last week I asked if they thought there was a difference between networking and building your network. They answered that when they started formal networking they were recently out of corporate life and they thought networking was all about finding people to do business with directly. This meant they went around attending lots of meetings and finding loads of new people. They did training courses on elevator pitches, talking to strangers and working the room. They didn't generate any business, but they didn't give up.

They realised through their experiences that effective networking was not a one touch contact sport but about building a network as the one real asset of a small business or independent professional. It became important to find groups of like minded people to replace the things they took for granted in Corporate Life. They are now building relationships with people they have things in common with by sharing business, support and knowledge.

I believe that building the right network for you and your business is vital. If you start with that premise it gives you the real reason for networking and your whole approach changes your focus from you to the people you meet.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

The missing ingredient in business networking

I spent a day at the start of this week with some colleagues and associates in a regular monthly meeting for the leaders of our NRG Business Groups. The focus of the day is all about how we can help each other build our respective businesses through the collective power of our shared networks. The meeting is facilitated to keep our overall objectives in mind whilst enjoying it and the social element is an essential part of the mix. Our discussions and interactions are primarily about building business, but they are also about supporting each other and sharing ideas, knowledge and best practice.

Someone pointed out to me that the overall experience was very similar to many business and networking meetings. There was, however, one big difference. We were focused on an ongoing strategy for helping to build each others business rather than just networking for the sake of it.

For many people the missing ingredient in their networking is focus. They have a general idea, but no specific reasons why they are doing it. Without that focus it can be difficult to work out where to network, who to network with, when to do it, what it is really all about and how to go about it.

Maybe the title of this post should be the 6 missing ingredients...

If you know anyone who could do with some help with how to build their network in a strategic way then please share this free download to help them work on the four key steps to building business through networking -

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Do business networks collaborate or compete?

"Avoid the competition" was a comment from Courtney Sperlazza in response to my post entitled What is the right approach in business networking? She went on to explain:

"I don't mean to avoid your competitors. What I mean is, avoid the concept of competition. You can work collaboratively with anyone. Even if you're in similar industries, there is something the other guy can do that you can't do and vice versa. Some of us call those things opportunities!"

One of the first steps we encourage in our advocacy model to how business networking really works is to clarify your target market. This is not so you can sell to them at networking events. It is so you can work out who else deals with them and so who you should be networking with to create those opportunities for each other. Real networking is a collaborative activity where you get to build a sustainable route to market for the long term. As I have written before it is not the face to face equivalent of cold calling.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I received a note that said that someone could not attend a meeting of one of our groups because they were a member of a competing network!

Doesn't that miss the point of networks being places to collaborate?

The best example for the networks to set is to collaborate with other networks.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Can you do too much networking?

Someone raised the possibility that they may be doing too much networking on the 4networking business forum last week. So can you spend too much time networking?

There are many people who spend too much time attending networking groups & events because they are not really networking. They are really engaged in the face to face equivalent of cold calling. They attend loads of meetings & broadcast loudly, but don't listen. They meet as many people as they can, but never have any time for others. Their idea of following up is to add you to their database. I could go on, but you know who they are. They don't really engage, share or build long term mutually beneficial business relationships.

There are some people who are networking with the best intentions, but don't give themselves enough time for following up. They may need to improve the balance of their networking time and do more one to one interactions between larger meetings.

Those people that 'get' how networking really works invest their time in building relationships with other people they have things in common with. They know that it takes time and you have to know, like, rate and trust someone before you will advocate them. They know this time is worth it as one 'Advocate' is worth far more than lots of one off transactions. They attend meetings to strengthen existing relationships and build some new ones. They get to share business, support, knowledge and have fun doing it too. This sort of networking is legitimate and necessary work time stuff and you probably don't have the time to do enough of it.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

How business networking really works

There are some people you meet who seem to 'get' networking instinctively. People seem to gravitate to them with a regular stream of opportunities for them and their business. They don't engage in the face to face equivalent of cold calling They spend most of their time with a regular close group of associates and advocates and a lesser amount of time making new contacts. They are active as participants, leaders and advocates of their networking groups.

They know that success from networking is about building relationships. Strengthening their existing ones and building appropriate new ones. They know that the best route to people they don't yet know is through an introduction or recommendation from someone they do.

It can be tempting to think that networking is about finding places and people you don't know. We can learn that is not from those who are successful through networking. As is often the case it's the counter intuitive approach that works. Network with the people you know to get to the ones you don't.

As Andy Lopata posted on Twitter yesterday "networking put simply is working with others to achieve more than we could achieve on our own.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

What is the right approach in business networking?

It can be tempting to only 'network' with others who do completely different things to you. People who provide different services or products and those from different professions. In fact some groups only allow for one member from each.

In reality it is often those that are more complementary to you that lead to more and quicker opportunities. The similarities mean you get to establish relationships more quickly and it is much easier to find referrals for each other without going out of your way. Even those groups that exclude members in the same line of business recommend joining other more open groups as part of your overall networking strategy.

In the UK a couple of days ago the new Government took their places in Parliament. For the first time in 70 years in the UK there is a coalition government. Whether it will be a success remains to be seen, but it would be refreshing to see a new politics. One that sees politicians working together for the good of the country rather than constantly doing each other down. If the two parties had looked to their differences it is very likely that we would be in a different situation now. By focusing on similarities they have made progress and have the potential to really change the way things work.

The lesson for us in networking is the many more possibilities that open up with an open and collaborative approach.

Are you looking for the common ground with your network?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Are you networking with the right people?

In 'The circles (no more strangers)' Seth Godin writes "It's so tempting to seek out more strangers." He makes the point that trying to reach strangers is expensive and you may very well upset your true fans. He uses an excellent graphic (shown to the right here) to illustrate his point that delighting and overwhelming your true fans is a better strategy than chasing after strangers.

Many business people and professionals give in to this temptation and concentrate their marketing efforts on strangers. Building word of mouth from the people they already know can be neglected and their behaviour in networking can be similar. Their networking is all about finding and connecting directly with the people they don't know.

The key to successful networking is to take the opposite view. Instead of looking for strangers it is about building strong relationships where you get to know, like, rate and trust each other. Instead of spending time with people you don't know try investing quality time in building the right relationships. I think it is worth repeating what I wrote last week in 'How Networking Really Works. A small number of people you get to know really really well can give you access to all the new people you want to meet.

Effective networking is about support and sharing knowledge and finding advocates who recommend and refer you. Good networking groups provide the environment for you to strengthen existing relationships & build new ones. It is much easier and more enjoyable to develop your business in an environment like that.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

How to identify the key people for your network

If you know your target market (or markets) precisely you can work out where you need to network. Some people think that this means finding people in the target market to 'network' with. This is not networking, but direct selling. In fact it is often the face to face equivalent of cold calling.

The important aspect of this in the networking context is you can then identify the key people for you who have access and influence in your target market. This is important in both finding the networking groups to join and who you should be inviting to join you in your groups.

As I wrote yesterday in 'How networking really works' you need to be building relationships with these key people. These people have access to many opportunities for you in your target market so are likely to be operating in the same market as you. They may well provide services that are complementary to yours.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

How networking really works

I sometimes meet people who run around frantically to as many events as possible. They meet as many different people as they can and deliver their 'elevator pitch' as often as possible. In my book that is not networking. It is the face to face equivalent of cold calling. It is difficult and time consuming.

The key to successful networking is building strong relationships where you get to know, like, rate and trust each other. As I have written before:

"You don't build profitable business relationships by hardly getting to know lots of different people!"

A small number of people you get to know really really well can give you access to all the new people you want to meet. Effective networking is about support and sharing knowledge and finding advocates who recommend and refer you. Good networking groups provide the environment for you to strengthen existing relationships & build new ones. It is much easier and more enjoyable to develop your business in an environment like that.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Did you build your network in the good times?

There may be trouble ahead...

Internet Psychologist Graham Jones wrote on his Ecademy Blog yesterday about the tough economic times ahead whoever wins the UK General Election. Everyone knows there will be some serious belt tightening whoever wins, but as he says "It's not all doom and gloom. You have your friends... It will be tough in the coming few years, that's true. But if you have friends; if you have trusted contacts; if you have people who like you, then you will survive thanks to their support."

This is when you find out that networking really isn't selling. It is about developing your route to market through trusted relationships, but it's much more than that. It is also about support and building friendships in business. That happens when you get to know, like, rate and trust others and they do the same for you.

As Graham said the economic situation we now have to face could well prove that it's never what you know that matters - it's who you know!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Is this the most important thing in marketing?

In a discussion on following up in the NRG-networks Linkedin Group yesterday Helen Dowling of 'Exceptional Thinking' shared that she thought that following up is "the most important marketing technique you can do".

She certainly has a point about the importance of following up. My experience of marketing in general and networking in particular is that following up is the activity that really makes the difference. There is very little point in attending lots of events, delivering your pitch, chatting briefly with many different people and collecting boxes full of business cards you do nothing with.

You don't build profitable business relationships by hardly getting to know lots of different people!

You build those relationships by finding the real points of connection and then following up with different interactions over time. That includes regular participation in your networking group, follow up emails, follow up phone calls, follow up on Social Networks and most importantly of all, follow up 121 meetings.

In other words take the lead and become one of the proactive few. It is after all the first habit of highly effective people.*

*Read more on Stephen Covey's 7 habits in my article - Applying the 7 habits to your business networking.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

What comes first in business networking?

The first habit of highly effective people is being proactive* according to the best selling book by by Stephen R. Covey. I was reminded of this when reviewing the video interview in my recent post, 'Just how important is a network in business?'.The last question I was asked in that interview was what key piece of advice I would give to someone new in business.

I was pleased to find my answer in line with some great advice from Robert Craven in his article, 'The Shortest Book on Business?'. According to Robert success is down to some very simple basics - clarity, focus, confidence and activity. And as he says in regard to activity, "Take Massive Action".

It's great advice for networking your business. You do need to be clear about what you do and who for. Some people, however, spend huge amounts of time and energy on honing their service offerings before undertaking any business development activity.

The important thing is not to put off the activity itself. Go out confidently and build your network first and they will help you refine your messages and offerings.

*For more go to my article - Applying the 7 habits to your business networking.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Just how important is a network in business?

Dave Harries of GuruView.TV began this interview by asking how important a network is for small and medium sized businesses? He also asked what networks are, if there are different levels of networking and whether offline networking is now more or less important.

Finally he asked what key piece of advice I would give to someone new in business. You can watch my answers in this seven minute interview.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Another big lesson from the General Election

On Tuesday this week I spoke at a Marketing Masterclass in Newbury about 'How Business Networking Really Works'. Two of the other speakers, Nigel Morgan and Karen Chapple presented about the growing importance of Social Media. Karen shared the news that Google now has a Social Tab on its default search page in the US.

We had a big lesson in the UK yesterday on the power of Social Media. I wrote yesterday in 'Another Lesson from the General Election' about the off camera remarks from Gordon Brown that were picked up on microphone.

The speed at which this spread across the world should leave you in no doubt about the power of Social Media. It was a little ironic that Andy Lopata wrote about 'Whatever happened to the Social Media Election' yesterday morning where he included this rather prescient comment:

"Don't underestimate the power of a politician's gaffe during the closing days of the election to have a much bigger impact than ever before. Thanks to social media any slip up can be both shared globally and repeated ad nauseam irrespective of how many people witness it in person. The news media pick the stories up and run with them as people share them on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube."

If you are still wondering about whether Social Media is right for you and your business you should heed what Nigel and Karen said on Tuesday "If you do not have a Social Media presence you need to do something about that right now..."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Another Lesson from the General Election

I was asked a question via Twitter yesterday about my advice for someone attending her first networking event. I suggested that she smile and wrote:

"Enjoy the meeting, introduce who you are, what you do, who for & how you look forward to getting to know the others."

The main thing is to be genuine and authentic. That is how you will build relationships with others as they get to know, like, rate and trust you. This brings me on to the latest networking lesson from the General Election. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is rare for such a gaffe as this one from Gordon Brown to be caught on camera. You can see the video at the BBC website. Gordon Brown is filmed saying one thing to a woman on camera and then something completely different off camera.

The lesson for networking is not to tell people what it is that you think they want to hear. Be yourself and be genuinely interested in the people you speak to.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

A Networking Lesson from the General Election Campaign

As I write this we have 10 days to go until the UK General Election. Until April 15th the Public Opinion Polls were predicting the following share of votes:
Conservative 36%
Labour 31%
Liberal Democrat 20%
Other 13%
The conservatives were in the lead and two thirds of the votes were predicted to be shared between them and Labour. The Liberal Democrats trailed in third with 20%.

Three days later the Liberal Democrat share had increased dramatically and they had moved into second place. Their support remains at this level according to the latest 'poll of polls':
Conservative 35%
Liberal Democrat 29%
Labour 28%
Other 8%

So what happened?

On the evening of April 15th we saw the first ever live TV debate between the main party leaders during a General Election Campaign. The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, was generally acknowledged to have won the debate against his  Conservative and Labour rivals, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. 

If he had not taken part he would not have won and that is the networking lesson to learn.

Most networking groups give their members the opportunity to share their expertise and raise their profile by speaking at events. I have, however, seen people refuse opportunities to speak because they feel they are not ready or the circumstances are not quite right. 

If you don't feel ready then prepare a few options and the next time you get the opportunity take the plunge and volunteer to speak. Your audience will be on your side and it's a great way of helping people understand when and how to advocate you!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Do you meet the right people when you go networking?

In a conversation with the partner in a professional firm last week he said "I know networking is about building relationships and not selling directly, but I never meet the right people". I asked him who the right people were and he tried to explain. He found it difficult and rambled on a bit.

I suggested (gently) that he might like to give it some thought because then he would have an idea where he might find the 'right people'. He asked if I had any tips that might help and I said he could start with where his referrals came from today. He mentioned a couple of sources which was great because now he will be looking for networking groups with others like them.

I also suggested that when he finds that group he should invite his current referral sources too. That way he will be building his Inner Network* and strengthening the relationships with his current Advocates*.

*Explained in more detail in the NRG Advocate Marketing System.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

How to have a productive One2One Meeting

The key to building a successful relationship with someone in business networking is follow up. One2One interactions are an essential part of this follow up. It is the next step after you have invested time in getting to know someone at your regular networking group meetings. In this podcast I explain how to have a productive One2One Meeting.

Listen here:

If you don't have a couple of minutes to listen then this image from the NRG Networking System covers the main points:

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Using the Internet to get off the Internet

In 'Using online to get offline' I briefly mentioned Founder, Scott Heiferman, and his talk in London about the importance of meeting offline.

Scott shared that he really began to experience the power of community in post 9/11 New York when people began again to rediscover the importance of looking out for each other. I was in London during the bombs on the underground and on a bus on 7 July 2005 and saw many people going out of their way for others in a similar way.

Scott shared that the idea for Meetup came from that time and he wanted to create a site to help strengthen community. To give people the opportunity to use the Internet to get together in local communities each day with the goal of improving themselves or their communities. Their mission today is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

As Scott said it's about "Using the Internet to get off the Internet!"

A great insight into how to use Online Social Media and Networks in your Business Networking, a subject I addressed more fully in this article:

'10 top networking tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks'

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Should you lead your networking group?

In the NRG Linkedin Group last week there was a discussion about 'Making a Business out of Networking'. Some of the discussion was about leading a networking group as a way of growing your existing business.

Last month Sarah Owen of the Referral Institute presented a Networking Masterclass before the NRG Charing Cross lunch in London. One of the things she want through was their VCP Process™. This stands for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability*. A good networking group provides the platform for people to go through this relationship building process.

Leading a group can move your relationships through to Profitability when done in the right way with the right people. Sarah shared with us the experience of her and her clients who see a seven fold increase in the profitability of their networking for their existing business when they lead groups. Too often, however, people think about running a group in the wrong context. Some think it is about a new revenue stream. Others that it is just about lead generation and concentrate exclusively on the Visibility bit.

Many networking organisations have positions for people to lead groups (including ours). These positions are not usually about creating an additional revenue stream. I would treat anyone that claims that for leading a group with suspicion. Leading a group is really about increasing the overall return on investment in your networking for your main business. As Sarah said "it is about increasing the profitability of the business relationships you build through networking". A good rule of thumb is that any income generated just for running a group should pay for your networking activity.

There are some business opportunities with networking organisations that are genuinely about creating a revenue stream. These are usually a networking franchise of some description where you are investing equity to build a business. In this scenario you will building a business with the primary revenue being from the activity of networking itself.

Leading a group could be right for you if it makes sense for your business to be at the hub of the business community in that group. That could be an existing group or using a networking organisation's existing infrastructure to get a group together of the people you want to have around you in the group.

*VCP Process™ copyright Referral Institute 2010, all rights reserved.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

A simple equation for networking successfully

'Can you make networking really simple?' was the headline last week when I wrote about making networking simple. Someone asked me if I could give them a simple equation for successful networkng. Here is what I gave them:

plan + structured approach = successful networking

First of all you need to know what you actually want from your networking. Then you can do the things that will ensure you achieve your goals.

At NRG-networks we encourage people to use the NRG Advocate Marketing System. The 5 simple steps include the essential components in this equation - your plan and a structured approach;

1. Set your networking objectives
2. Identify your target market
3. Develop your proposition
4. Define your inner network
5. Build your advocates

Read more about this business networking system here.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Can you make networking really simple?

'Networking made Simple' is the title of a blog posted yesterday by Andy Lopata. In it Andy wrote;

"Think of networking groups as a way of meeting people who can help you achieve your goals. Now you should ask yourself:

- What am I trying to achieve?
- How can other people help me?
- Who is best placed to help me?
- What do they need to know and do?

This is good advice and they are indeed great questions to help you clarify whether a networking group could be right for you and your business. I would add one more question:

- Who do they need to know?

Just joining the group, though, will not be enough. You have to be proactive!

The way that networking in such a group will work for you is by helping those people achieve their goals. To make sure it will work for you there are a few more questions you should ask yourself:

- Do I like the people in the group?
- Are they people that could add value to my existing client & trusted relationships?
- Am I able to give the group meetings priority over other things in my schedule?
- Am I willing to invest time outside the group meetings to really get to know them and build profitable relationships?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Is networking a bit woolly?

In a workshop before a recent Networking Lunch a conversation took place between a couple of the attendees. Let's call them A and B.

A said "I am not really sure about this networking stuff".

B replied "It's about getting to know, like and trust people. You build relationships and as you help and refer others then others do the same for you".

A then said "That all sounds a bit woolly to me. I prefer things I can predict my cash flow with".

I described how I have a number of regular meetings with people in my network where we share an agreed number of referrals so we can predict cash flow. These are people for whom networking is not woolly, but a proven and reliable method of business development. We have invested time in building relationships and are happy to share our contacts with each other openly so as to maximise our referral opportunities.

Last week Sarah Owen of the Referral Institute presented a Networking Masterclass before the NRG Charing Cross networking lunch in London. One of the things she want through was their VCP Process™. This stands for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability*. People can believe the activity of attending networking events is enough. It is not as that can only really build your Visibility. Good networking groups provide the environment for you to build on this and create profitable relationships with people you know and others you want to know.

One of the elements of their Referrals for Life Programme is the Referral Pipeline where you get to spend a day with a trusted contact and execute a process that will efficiently generate enough referrals to completely fill up your sales pipeline!

Networking is only woolly if you are!

*VCP Process™ copyright Referral Institute 2010, all rights reserved.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips

Networking and the 4 Ps of Marketing

In a presentation last week from Gill Hunt of Skillfair I was reminded of the 4 Ps of Marketing - product, price, placement, promotion. In traditional marketing these are taught as the four elements essential to get right in any marketing. The world has changed with the Internet, but they can provide a useful checklist to help in our networking.

Promotion is often the initial driver for a business owner or professional to start 'formal networking'. This can lead to too much emphasis initially on trying to sell to the people you meet. You quickly learn that networking is about building relationships with others in similar markets to you - your 'Inner Network'. The best way to get your network to promote or advocate you is to get in the habit of advocating them first.

The other 3 Ps are useful in working out where to network and who with. Where to find the people who will become part of your Inner Network. If your product is providing a solution to a business problem then you can work out the places you should be networking. It is in those groups where the other members provide similar value (price) services to yours. They should be working regularly with the types of businesses you work with.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips

Using online to get offline

At a networking lunch last week someone asked about how you get to meet up offline with some of the people you connect with online. Networking online & offline are about about building relationships. You can strengthen existing connections online and make good new connections. Build relationships by contributing to online conversations and sharing your knowledge and connections. At some point you will probably need to meet up to really build trust. You may not be quite ready to meet One2One so consider inviting them along to a networking group you belong to.

Last week I attended an Event on 'How real time web is facilitating offline interactivity'. One of the speakers Meetup Founder, Scott Heiferman, was talking about the importance of meeting offline and said Meetup itself was all about:

"Using the Internet to get off the Internet!"

A pretty good approach to keep in mind with your online networking.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 10 top networking tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks

offline business networking | business networking events

How to decide where to spend time online networking

At a couple of meetings last week people asked me which online networks they should use. People tend to read the buzz about Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc & assume they need to be on them all. They can often feel daunted at the prospect of somehow incorporating all these into their networking.

I replied that the approach to networking is the same as offline. It is all about building relationships where people get to know, like and trust you. The important consideration for business networking is that the people you build those relationships with are in a position to refer you in the course of their everyday experiences. You should be networking online and offline in the networks where those people are members.

As I wrote in 10 top networking tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks:

"Business Networking is about finding other business people who operate in similar markets to you. Then helping them and building relationships to earn that trust so don’t expect instant results. Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. Take the time to develop relationships and create a network. Don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers or simply post a profile online and come away with business – it just doesn’t work like that!"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips

How much should you give away?

In Nigel Temple's excellent Internet Marketing Masterclass yesterday there was a discussion about how much of your knowledge you should give away. A few years ago I sat in discussions where people argued that you should give nothing away. Yesterday most people were happy with the notion of giving away about 20%, but holding back the rest to charge for. It's the old 'Sprat to catch a mackerel' notion.

Most of us, however, are unhappy when we feel someone is holding something back. It gets in the way of building relationships. If you want people to refer you or do business with you that might be a problem!

The World has been changed forever with this thing called the Internet. Most knowledge is now freely available somewhere if you search for it. Some people will pay for your knowledge, but mainly they will pay for the the value you add.

Consider this statement from someone who is very successful in developing his business with networking. This was part of his response to the NRG research into business networking:

"I do not do any cold calling. All my business comes from networking and referrals. Networking is not about selling, it's about building relationships.

Much of the business is a result of doing a presentation where I share ALL my secrets so people know how to do what I do.

Mostly, they prefer to ask me to do it for them. Even though I've explained how they can do it for themselves!

Nigel was a living example of this in his Masterclass yesterday. The only thing the people attending were really paying for was the cost of the room for a few hours. He was then giving away his knowledge freely for a couple of hours.

Some of those people are now paying for his help to implement the stuff!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips

Reducing your business risks with networking

In the NRG research into business networking conducted a few years ago the findings included the ways in which building trusted relationships through networking reduces your risk in doing business. Perhaps the more obvious ones were the benefits you get from having more people looking for opportunities for you and good honest feedback about your business.

Another one was the business intelligence that your network contains. A great example of this for those operating in the UK is the results from NRG member and Skillfair founder, Gill Hunt, for their 2010 UK Consultancy Fee Rate Survey*. This was her biggest ever survey so the results are pretty definitive. Rates by specialism, sector and region.

As Gill says "You can use this information as a guide when buying or selling consultancy and freelance services - day rate isn't everything but it gives you a place to start and confidence that you're in the right area."

I am also pleased to report that NRG members get 11% more than the average!

*Full results published here.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips


Follow up is the difference

Someone asked me this week "What is the main difference between people who are effective in their networking and those who are not?"

I replied that there were generally a number of factors. The first being that there are those that 'get it' and those that don't. By that I mean there are those who understand how networking works and some who have the idea that is some sort of selling or purely social activity.

The big difference, though, is with those that set aside time to spend following up with others. Investing time in getting to know, like, & trust them and then connecting them with the things they need to know and the people they need to know to help them achieve their busines objectives. You only get to know the relevant content and contacts in the context that is right for them by spending time with them.

In 'A simple way of standing out from the crowd' I wrote how you can stand out by becoming one of the proactive few who regularly follow up.

One simple way of ensuring you do this is to get in the habit of setting aside time in your diary for follow up and 121s after networking meetings.

I talk for a couple of minutes on follow up in this podcast, 'Follow up, Follow up, Follow up!'
Listen here:

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips