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1 why networking doesn't work 2 why do people find networking valuable? 3 how do i get in front of the right people? 4 how do i choose a networking event? 5 how do i get the most out of networking meeting? 6 how do i build my network? 7 how do you answer the question what do you? 8 how do you tell a good stiory? 9 how do you get the most out of networking? 10 how do i build trust within my network? 11 how do i follow up? 12 how do i get the best from 121 meetings? 13 how do i get people to refer me? 14 how do i manage my network? 15 how do i nurture my network? 16 how do i build advocates?
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Business Networking Blog

Sorting out the Chaos
I was talking to an NRG member, Phil Cheesman, the other day. Phil was observing that he saw many business people leading fairly chaotic business lives.

They never seem to have time to sit back and think strategically about where the're going and how the're going to get there, let alone do anything substantial about it. Instead, they end up conducting a daily series of fire-fighting actions which leads to inefficiency, frustration and stress. In the worst-cases, the stress can manifest itself in tiredness, grumpiness, depression and deteriorating personal relationships.

He calls this the "chaotic business syndrome". Typical indicators are:
  • there are too many things you could/should be doing
  • you can't see the wood for the trees
  • you find it difficult to prioritise tasks effectively
  • you are "running hard to stay still"
  • you become forgetful and make mistakes
  • you're too busy to grow the business

If that sounds like you, you should consider early actions to escape from the spiral before it's too late.

The trouble is, when there are more things you could be doing than there are hours in the day to do them, how do you choose which tasks to do and which to drop or delegate when they all look equally important or can only be done by you? Well the obvious answer is to identify the really important tasks that have to be done by you and then focus on doing them. OK, so how do you do that?

Phil describes what can be done in his article Sorting out the Chaos. The process is called strategic management.

Good Networking!
Martin Davies

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 10:17:00, 02 Aug 10
Tags: Business Networking
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Is there a right time to leave a networking group?
This post was inspired when I was asked recently for a quote for a new book from Andy Lopata on when to leave a networking group.

There are times when you move on in business and different networking groups become more appropriate. If you are networking as part of an overall plan then you will be able to work out when to move on. My experience is that more people leave for the wrong reasons than the right reasons. Many people leave groups because they never really worked out why they should be there in the first place!

Then there are the people who do it for a year and stop because they think it isn’t working. The great shame is that they are usually at the point where their investment is about to reap rewards. They have become known, liked, rated and trusted. Instead of strengthening the relationships they have built they move on to start the whole process again with new people.

Most weeks I will be at an event and someone will ask where X or Y is because they have something for them. If I say they have left the group they almost always ask for a recommendation to somebody else even if I offer to pass their message on.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:08:00, 29 Jul 10
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Business Networking Groups,Networking Tips
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Sorting out the chaos
Many of us lead fairly chaotic business lives. We never seem to have time to sit back and think strategically about where we're going and how we're going to get there, let alone do anything substantial about it. Instead, we end up conducting a daily series of fire-fighting actions which leads to inefficiency, frustration and stress. In the worst-cases, the stress can manifest itself in tiredness, grumpiness, depression and deteriorating personal relationships. In a conversation with an NRG member I call this the "chaotic business syndrome". Typical indicators are:
• there are too many things you could/should be doing
• you can't see the wood for the trees
• you find it difficult to prioritise tasks effectively
• you are "running hard to stay still"
• you become forgetful and make mistakes
• you're too busy to grow the business
• etc ...
You may not yet be at the serious end of this downward spiral but, if any of the above indicators are true of your business, you should consider early actions to escape from the spiral before it's too late.
The trouble is, when there are more things you could be doing than there are hours in the day to do them, how do you choose which tasks to do and which to drop or delegate when they all look equally important or can only be done by you? Well the obvious answer is to identify the really important tasks that have to be done by you and then focus on doing them. OK, so how do you do that?
Piloting your way through the chaos. Think of your business as a ship which has to be steered safely to its destination. The captain looks at his starting point and destination on the chart and plots a course which gets him there as safely and quickly as possible. However he doesn't just draw a straight line on the chart and follow it. He takes into account navigational hazards such as rocks and busy shipping lanes and considers the effects of weather and tides which can throw him off course. He also makes course corrections on the way when some of these factors change. The fact that he had plotted his original course on the chart allows him to decide which course alterations to make along the way.
It's the same with any business. Unless you have a clear vision of where you want to end up, know where you are starting from and have a course plotted to get you there, you will not know which options to choose when faced with decisions along the way. Having clarity in these matters in your own mind and those of any stakeholders in your business is the only way to maintain the focus necessary to take the business forward. And just as the captain of the ship needs to train his mind and follow a logical process to navigate his ship, so we need to train our minds and follow a logical process to navigate our businesses towards our vision.
This process is called strategic management and can be learnt and applied by any business owner whatever the size of their business. When it is applied properly and fully implemented, strategic management lets you see the wood for the trees and helps you to get the really important things done. It’s no surprise that people who manage strategically feel on top of their businesses and tend to be more successful and less stressed than those who manage chaotically.
So how do we do it? There is a simple process, which I will describe in my next article, which you can follow to take you through the 5 stages of strategic management.
Health warning. Like all good ideas, the strategic management process is simple in principle. However, it is not a magic wand that you simply wave over your business and everything comes right. Understanding the process is one thing; implementing it is quite another. If you seriously want to grow your business, reduce your stress and you are prepared to put in the effort to understand strategic management and implement it, then watch out for the next article. If not, just carry on with the chaos!


Good Networking!

Martin Davies

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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:06:00, 26 Jul 10
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Be careful not to leave too early
After a really good networking meeting you will often see people still engrossed in conversations. Many of them will have their diaries to hand arranging meetings. It is this follow up activity in between networking meetings that really make the difference. If you are always rushing off right on time you might be missing out.

We noticed this happening after our NRG group meetings so we now set aside time in the meetings so everyone can be engaged in this activity. Next time you put a networking meeting in your diary try and leave some space beyond the formal end so you don't have to rush off.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:08:00, 22 Jul 10
Tags: Business Networking,Business Networking Techniques,Business Networking Groups,Networking Follow Up,Networking Tips
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Think of networking as a system & not an event
Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 20:36:00, 21 Jul 10
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The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work
Andy Lopata asked me recently to write an article on the mistakes that people make in business networking. This article is now published in Andy's newsletter at Fresh Business Thinking. As I researched the topic with my network and reflected on my experiences I realised there was one BIG mistake.

Business people often turn to networking at different times. Start ups will often network like crazy early on and established businesses will often start when traditional routes to market dry up. The thing they very often have in common is the idea that networking is the answer to their problem. This first and BIG mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking with a complete misunderstanding of what networking really is.

This activity often involves looking for opportunities to ‘network’ with lots of people. They attend group meetings (once) swapping business cards with everyone they can, broadcasting their message, chasing immediate transactions and moving on. They join online networks, put together a profile and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.

Some think they may need to do something differently and they may get some training into how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. They do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, twitter, linkedin, facebook et al. Again this doesn’t work and a few more conclude that networking doesn’t work.

It doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of networking groups out there with experienced business people that will help you avoid the mistakes and make sure networking does work for you and your business. For 10 tips on learning from the mistakes others have made go the to full article on The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:08:00, 13 Jul 10
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Business Development,Networking Tips
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Something to do with those business cards you collected
I was interrupted last week at a networking group meeting by someone who wanted to commend something to the group. Positive interruptions that enhance your message are always very welcome! He said it had been a really useful exercise to go through all the business cards he had collected over a couple years after reading the NRG workbook on developing your business networking plan.

He had separated these cards into the four categories suggested in the workbook. He uses Outlook to manage his contacts so he then created these categories in Outlook. He entered the details of any new contacts into his Outlook Address Book and then put all his contacts into those categories. This means he can now manage the interactions he has with his network more effectively. He can also see, at a glance, who he needs to focus his networking activity with.

The four categories of contacts are your Outer Network, your Resource Network, your Inner Network and your Advocate Network.

Your Outer Network is made up of the people that you have met, but have no real connection with. You don't know what you could do for them, but it is useful to have a record of where and when you met. You paths may well cross again and you make that connection.

Your Resource Network is made up of the people that you have met and you know them well enough to recognise they have a particular skill or offer a valuable service. You don’t want to spend more time in developing a relationship with them, but they are useful to introduce to other contacts when appropriate.

Your Inner Network is made up of the people that you have met, have had some sort of follow up and are building a relationship. They share a similar target market to you and probably provide a service that is complementary to yours. We will call them your Inner Network & it is spending time with these people that starts to make networking really work. One really efficient way of doing this is to ensure you belong to the same networking groups.

Your Advocate Network is the small group of people you would go out of your way to find introductions and referrals for. The people you advocate are the people you have already developed a relationship with and you know, like, rate and trust them. It is spending time doing things for these people where you get the highest networking returns.

Successful networkers have up to 30 people in their Inner Network & about 6 Advocates. Do you know who these people are for you?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 10:00:00, 06 Jul 10
Tags: Like,Networking for Advocates,Advocate Marketing,Inner Network,Rate,Return on Investment,Advocacy,Building Your Network,Business Networking,Know,Trust,NRG,Referrals,Networking System
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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

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 14:16:00, 29 Jun 10
Tags: Business Networking,Networking for Advocates,Advocate Marketing,Referrals,Networking Tips,Advocate,Advocacy,Building Your Network
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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

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 12:22:00, 22 Jun 10
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Building Your Network
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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 - http://bit.ly/NRGpdf

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:08:00, 16 Jun 10
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Advocate Marketing,Advocacy,Building Your Network
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