Archive for October 2010

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