Avoid Being Sadly and Horribly Stuck in the Networking Past.
In the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, everyone got asked to be referred. Think about it. If you wanted some level of comfort in trusting a vendor you asked friends and business associates. The only other source was the yellow pages!
Then the internet and search engines came, mainly Google! No one needs to ask for referrals any more. Because they have everything they need, including dozens of reviews. Why should they rely on just one person’s opinion?
It’s not that Networking Groups or Networkers aren’t referring, It’s just that they have very few opportunities any more to refer.
Nevertheless, the solution is easy. CHANGE! Introduce every business owner you know to every other business owner you know. Then they will be professional sales people and take it from there. These warm introductions are truly golden!
1. Have a Fully Developed Strategic Networking Plan.
If Networking is going to be a part of or your whole marketing strategy, then you must have a plan otherwise you will be aiming for nothing and hit it with amazing accuracy.
Ask yourself all the important questions like: How many people will I network with? How often will I communicate directly? How many introductions will I make each week? How many referrals will I make per month? Where will I network? And so many more questions to develop your strategy and tactics to succeed. I can help you with this.
2. Avoid Developing Personal Relationships at Expense of Business Relationships.
You hear it all the time, develop a relationship to get referrals and introductions.
The problem is that most think it’s to build a Personal Relationship. They ask personal questions and offer personal information about themselves. This is great for developing friendships but does nothing for developing a Business Relationship.
Tell people how you will handle their introductions and referrals and ask questions that will divulge how they will do the same.
3. Take action with a guest or a warm introduction rather than of pre-judging.
This one blows my mind!
When a guest comes to your group or chamber event, this is likely the only time you will see them. If you don’t act now you lose out on meeting dozens of their friends…or they may actually be a prospect for you!
As far as blowing off a warm introduction made to you, what an insult! Indeed, they took their valuable time to give you an opportunity. Thus, these introductions deserve your attention and respect. What will you say when the referring party asks how the introduction panned out? You are ruining your reputation.
4. Meet with each networking partner 2-4 times per year and have intended outcomes with networking partners.
In one meeting you cannot possibly know or train everything needed to help each other.
But it doesn’t have to be an hour or in person. You can do a 30-minute Zoom or phone call. Another idea is to get 2-3 others together with you. Thus, more bang for your buck! Go have breakfast, coffee, lunch, or tea. It may take a little longer but you are meeting with several people so per person it is shorter than an hour each.
Also, try to keep the conversation focused on business in these meetings. Because, there is always time and other opportunities to talk personal stuff.
5. Not using a CRM or some other way to keep your networking on track.
You can use index cards, a calendar, a spreadsheet, or the easiest, a CRM. You need to keep track of past activities and results as well as plan future steps.
Your initial goal is to have 25 networking partners. You each are introducing everyone you know to each other. This is a lot of business relationships. From these you will build to 100 networking partners. At this point you are doing business 100% by warm introductions and referrals. Katie bar the door!
I use Pipedrive. It is easy to learn and simple to use. It has all the power and features that most small businesses need. It’s very affordable.
6. Hunt and farm in the right proportions.
In Networking, especially in groups and Chambers of Commerce, your split should be 5- 10% Hunting and 90-95% Farming.
Hunting is looking for the immediate sale. I think by now everyone knows that that is not what networking groups and Chambers of Commerce Events are designed for. You need to learn how to sell through people not to people. One way to have this mindset is to know that if someone is willing to make warm introductions and referrals to you they will use you when the time comes.
On the other hand, farming is putting someone in your marketing and sales pipeline or funnel. So, for good farming you must have appropriate follow up marketing strategies. These will include: email, texting, snail mail, phone calls, face to face, and social media. Doing this well, you will always have people closing. You don’t have to stress out in hunting.
7. Use The Automated Referral Network Online Tool.
The Automated Referral Network Online Tool helps networkers give and receive more warm introductions and hot referrals than they have possibly been receiving and giving.
It starts, after you become a subscribing member, with giving. It is in giving that we receive. One enters 15, 30, even 50 of their business relationships, contacts. Generally, it is best if these contacts are business owners to start. The system, by algorithm, makes warm email introductions each week to these people thanks to you. It introduces members to them and introduces contacts to each other as well. Contacts can receive these introductions for a limited time before they need to become a member.
Members are introduced to other members and when any of their contacts become members, they are introduced to all of their contacts. And so it builds.
Members and contacts connect with each other and have a call, Zoom, or face to face to get to know each other and how they might work together or if there may be an immediate sale. NETWORKING!