Archive for April 2010

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