Have you ever wondered why networking seems to be so easy to some and they do it so well, while for others it is a struggle? Statistics show that 89% of new work comes from word of mouth networking. That is a big number and often people do not get these great results. This is due usually to people not giving networking the attention it needs and just doing it wrong.
So here are some questions to ask yourself about how you are currently networking: (these questions and explanations are very relevant to networking if you are a member of a group that meets regularly such as BforB)
- Do I attend all meeting? If you are a member of a networking organisation that has regular networking meetings, it is very important to attend yourself as much as possible and if you have to be absent, make sure you have a ‘sub’ to represent your business. This may seem simple and obvious, but you may not realise that if you are not attending your regular networking group, then you are not top in the minds of others. You may have developed a great business relationship with someone and have been doing business together, but if you stop attending regular networking events and someone else in your field of expertise starts attending regularly, then you may lose that close connection and the other person may become the preferred supplier. It may also indicate to others that you are not as committed to the business relationships and the group. Your business needs to be represented at every meeting to get the best results from your networking. Sometimes people tell me that they are not receiving referrals but when we look at their attendance, we realise that they are often absent and don’t have someone else representing their business.
- Is my 60 second infomercial working for me? You do not want people wondering ‘what does that person do?’ after you have presented your 60 second infomercial! If the members of your group or at any networking event, cannot understand what products or services you provide and how you can help others, then how can they refer business to you? Ask your network group members or leaders to give you constructive feedback about your infomercial. There are great templates to help you create or fine tune your 60 second infomercials, so take advantage of these.
- Can I provide a sample or trial of my product or service? Not all businesses can do this but if you can, then this is a great way to show others what you do and how you do it. Once others have experienced what you do, then it is easier for them to be able to share this to others. Some examples of this are a business coach, or an accountant could gift a free business analysis. If it is not appropriate for you to gift a sample to someone (eg Real Estate Agent) then sharing testimonials is an excellent way to share about your great products and superior service.
- Am I doing regular one to one meetings with others? This is essential to build the business relationships and to share about your products and services? Statistics show that there is a strong correlation between how many one to one meetings people have with other members of your networking group, to the number of referrals they receive. This is not a guarantee, but by having more one to one meetings, you give yourself the best chance to get more referrals.
- Do I give before I expect to receive? I encourage you to give knowledge, support and referrals to others without the expectation to receive the same immediately, to Pay it Forward’. Those who receive have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate, plus it shows to your networking group you are committed to helping others, and they too may become more committed to helping you. If you do not show others that you are prepared to give referrals, then how can you expect to receive referrals from others.
- Do you volunteer to do extra duties at a networking event? Are you a person that just turns up to your group meeting and expect others to do everything? It may not even be the roles in the meetings, it could be just those little extra things like helping one of the leaders or organisers set up the room, without being asked. Be seen and known as the person at the networking groups that is always willing to do the little extra things and to help others.
- Am I only looking for referrals from my networking? There are so many other benefits, other than receiving regular referral, that you can gain from attending networking events. Other benefits that many of our members receive include, increase in confidence, support from other members, being able to run ideas or ask questions to others members, opportunities to improve your communication skills and possibly being asked to speak at other networking groups. These are just some of the many benefits that our members receive.