Archive for June 2010

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