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Business Networking Blog

How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 6

The importance of sharing why you do what you do in building advocacy


Know, like, trust, rateUnless the people in your business network are motivated and know how to help you then you are never going to make business networking productive. In this blog and the next one in the series I aim to give you an understanding of how you go about that final step of finding your advocates from within your business network. You may well have read and heard people say that people refer business to people they know, like and trust. The previous blogs in this series were about how you get to the stage where you are known for what you do and the types of business you do that with. These are things that demonstrate how others can help you. The series has also covered how you go about identifying the right people for your network then building and maintaining relationships with those people. At the early stages of a business relationships you will have decided whether you like each other. In my experience it is unlikely you will get very far unless you like each other.

 

If you have gone about business networking by building relationships the with the right sort of people then there are probably a number who know, like and trust you in your network. Chances are, however, you could still do with more business. In Networking and The Psychology of Persuasion I wrote about how a basic understanding of influence is useful when building advocacy through your business network.

Influence

One of the six keys to influence is liking and it works on a couple of levels. It is true that people prefer to do business with people they like, but people are also attracted to and influenced by people like them. This adds an emotional aspect and there is more to it than simply being known, liked and trusted. People regularly refer business to people they know, like, rate and trust and who are like them.

 

To be really successful in your networking you need to develop a group of advocates from the people that you build business relationships with. Your advocates are those people who will go out of their way to help and view you as being like them. The thing that identifies that for them is not what you do it is WHY you do it. The simplest way of communicating this with people is by sharing the story of why you are doing what you do. Within NRG I share the story of how I got started with running a network.

 

At the turn of the millenium I had previously run an Internet Service Provider Business that had become part of a Finnish Group along with four other UK Internet and Telecommunications businesses. I became the Managing Director for the UK Group. Early in the noughties the Parent Company retrenched to Finland as the Industry was facing tough times after the dot com crash. I negotiated the sale of the UK subsidiaries to various parties and joined a small management consultancy as the partner leading internet, e-commerce and telecommunication projects for their client base and my own.

 

My wife and I took the opportunity to move the family from London to Wiltshire to provide the environment we wanted for the children to grow into young adults. Most of my clients were in London or other parts of Europe so I decided to try and meet business people locally. I found it very difficult to do that. The chamber or similar 'networking' events I attended were very hit and miss. I also found other groups that were only open to one person from a particular trade or profession. At the time I found that an odd idea as I was used to cooperating with competitors and others in complementary businesses. I knew that it would be amongst people doing similar things for similar businesses that I would find people like me.

 

Then in February 2004 I joined the new online network, Linkedin, and started referring business and getting business referred to me through the people I knew. It was still away from home though and when I told a friend he recommended a UK based network called Ecademy which he said had offline meetings too. When I found there was no regular meeting near me I started my own. That proved a great way of making connections locally and it was through those meetings that I met Martin Davies and Kim Sharman who were equally frustrated with local networking. They had decided to launch NRG for people like me! I volunteered to help with organising certain aspects of the meetings and became CEO. Our aim was to create the network that we couldn't find, an environment where providers of professional and business services could connect and build the right relationships for mutual business development and support. We are still evolving and refining, but that is at the core of everything we have done and continue to do.

 

Once you have developed your story around why you do what you do and start sharing it then you give people like you that emotional connection which is an essential component in finding your advocates. There are then a number of things you need to do to build on this with these people and those will be the subject of the next blog in this series.

 

For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:14:01, 29 Oct 12
Tags: networking,Advocacy,Networking System,relationships,quality,121 meetings,Networking Relationships
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Offline networking still more valuable than online

face to face networkingAccording to new research from moo.com traditional networking face to face is still valuable in an increasingly digital world. Dealing with contacts in person, rather than via email or social networking, nets UK small businesses a projected GBP 9.45 bn a year. In other words the real action is offline!

 

The research reveals that the owners of these small businesses also use social networking on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch with a wider audience. They use these tools and others, like Twitter, to maintain a business presence online. However, when it come to marketing then advocacy through word of mouth recommendations and referrals are the most important part of the mix.

 

Richard Moross Founder & CEO of MOO who commissioned the research, said: “Physical contact works better because it can often reveal more about the person they are dealing with than anything revealed on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Social media and other technology is incredibly helpful for keeping in touch, building relationships and just reminding people you are around and what you are up to. But if you want to win business and develop new contacts then nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting it seems. Judging by the number of business owners who do business over a drink, at a social function or even on the daily commute, the informal atmosphere seems to encourage better networking."

 

The survey confirms that online works well in supporting your offline neworking as I wrote in a previous blog on successfully combining offline and online networking. You can read more about the moo.com research in this press release.

 

The message is clear if you want to make sure you are get enough people recommending and advocating your business. Invest enough time in meeting the right people face to face.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 16:33:39, 25 Oct 12
Tags: Business Networking,Social Networking,face to face networking,Offline Networking,Online Networking
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How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 5

Building And Maintaining Business Relationships

Advocacy RelationshipsIn the 5th of this series on getting more business through networking I will be writing about business relationships. A business relationship is a series of interactions over time like any other one. You can either wait for others to lead those interactions or you can take the lead yourself by being proactive with your follow up. The people who get the most from their networking are the proactive ones. The ones who make the phone calls, send cards, organise 1-2-1 meetings and regularly use the communication tools that the internet has brought. To be proactive and productive you will probably need some sort of system to keep your contacts up to date with a record of your interactions.

 

The internet has given us the tools to be really effective at keeping in touch with people between the times we meet. In particular with Email, Social Media and Online Networks. This is increasingly available to us when we are out and about and not just when we are at our desks.

Business Relationships

Most people in Business and Professional Services have a Linkedin Profile. A simple way of following up with someone when you have met for the first time is to agree to connect on Linkedin. The act of following that up and making the connection request is a simple demonstration of doing something you agreed to do. This is an important step in building a trusted relationship. You can also follow or friend on other platforms where appropriate. 

 

An important place to build relationships is in the networking groups you join with others that share the markets you operate in. Your aim in groups like this is to get to the stage with some people where you can advocate them and they can advocate you. At some stage it will be important to start meeting 1-2-1 so you can really get to know someone and what makes them tick. 1-2-1 meetings are the real engine of productive business networking relationships. There is a danger, however, that they can become general chats with no business context or be completely dominated by one person. To avoid this you need to be clear about your aims for the meeting itself and what happens next. It is also important to communicate that clearly to the other person.You can do this by way of a simple agreed agenda. I use this mindmap to remind me at the start of the meeting to make sure we agree certain basics.

121 Meeting Agenda

This mindmap reminds me to agree at least the following.

1. The overall purpose of the meeting,

2. The timing of the meeting,

3. Whether there are any interuptions anticipated,

4. Part of the meeting is for me to find out about you and your business and part is for you to find out about me and mine.

5. Once we have learned about each other can we see ourselves developing a mutually beneficial advocate relationship,

6. If we are not going to develop further it is ok to agree now,

7. If we are going to develop further then agree next steps.

 

Agreeing the next step ensures that the relationship is ongoing and part of a series of interactions over time that will benefit both parties. In the next part of this blog series I will cover how you nurture these business relationships and turn them into real profit for each other.

 

For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 20:35:17, 15 Oct 12
Tags: Networking Relationships,121 meetings,quality,relationships,Networking System,Advocacy,networking
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How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 4

Identifying The Right People And Where To Meet Them

Your Dunbar NetworkEffective networking is all about building advocacy with the right people. People who will look out for opportunities for you without being asked or paid as a result of the strong personal relationship you have with them. Identifying these 'right' people for your business network can be a challenge. Recent research from the Nationwide Building Society found that nearly one third of people do not have a trusted support network in place at all.

 

The number of relationships you can maintain is limited both by time and other constraints. Research from the social anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggests that the number of people we can maintain 'stable social relationships' with is between 100 and 230 with a mean of 150, the 'Dunbar Number. This number is for those relationships in which you know who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. The number of business relationships you can maintain will be a smaller number depending on what else you have going on in your life. Your business network is one social network amongst a number that you will be part of. The following picture represents how your connections may be spread amongst these different networks with some of these relationships being closer than others as represented by the larger smiley faces towards the centre.

 

Your Social Networks

 

For your business network you probably need to identify and nurture the 50 or so most important people you need to form your inner network. Your advocates will come from this inner network. You will have many more contacts than this as represented in this next picture, but to be effective in building advocacy you need to focus on those to spend time with. You will also need to have some way of recording your interactions with them. This could be with Outlook, another contact managment system or online through Linkedin or Google+.

 

Your extended business network

 

In parts 2 and 3 of this series I wrote about being crystal clear about your target market and getting clear about your proposition. This is so you can identify possibly the most important constituent of this inner network. Those with the same market as you and providing complementary services. These two things mean they will be in a position to find opportunities to recommend you in the ordinary course of their work. The best way of meeting these people is by identifying the networking groups they belong to and joining them so you can build business relationships with them.

 

You will also find people amongst your industry & trade associations, customers, ex customers, prospects, Colleagues and people in your other social networks. Don't forget your professional advisors and suppliers too. They have a vested interest in your success.

Your inner business network

 

You will already have ongong relationships with some of these people. Building, maintaining and nurturing those relationships is the topic of the next blog in this series. For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:14:08, 18 Sep 12
Tags: Networking Relationships,Proposition,Target Market,quality,relationships,Networking System,Advocacy,networking
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Shake Hands & Smile with your voice

Last week saw our latest NRG Midlands Regional Event take place in Birmingham. In the Midlands we decided that so many people were on holiday in August, it made more sense to pool our resources for a month into a single event.

All of our seven Midlands groups were represented, which gave the event the solid regional flavour we were seeking as well as providing the opportunities to develop business relationships on a wider geographical scale than sometimes possible.

I have to say how well NRG are looked after at Ashas Restaurant. Several people commented that "the food is fabulous", and the great thing with Indian cuisine is that vegetarians are so well catered for, although it can be a bit tricky for nut allergies & dairy intolerance!

Before lunch there were plenty of conversations taking place over the tea & coffee, our several guests being made welcome by our members. One of the things that is really good about NRG advocacy events is the warmth of welcome given by our members to visitors.

Sally Anderson hosted the day - and after her "things that happened on the day" which were Olympic themed - each table host facilitated introductions around their individual tables. After six years I continue to be impressed by the many varied interests our members have outside the work arena. So often, it is these activities that are the "hook" that begins the development of the business relationships that lead to advocacy.

Our Expert Speaker was Lee Clark, m.d of Oaktree Marketing and a member of our Metropolitan Birmingham breakfast group. His topic "BIG Talk v small talk" gave us some very specific tips on both telephone selling and making introductions in selling situations. On the telephone, make sure you have a "smile" in your voice and that you have a purpose - ie what is it you are offering your potential customer? Considering introductions, remember the importance of your handshake - this simple action sends many messages to your potential client. Know the signal that you want to send before you do the action!

At 2.30, nine of the attendees joined Peter Baylis, who facilitated the hour long Mastermind workshop. These sessions give the opportunity to help others,  exchange expertise, test out ideas and generally glean information to help solve issues in a confidential environment. At the same time, because of the nature of the discussion, the workshop acts as a fast-track towards developing relationships.

Often people get confused that attending an event is networking. But its not. Attending an event is simply an activity at the beginning of building relationships.Or, if you're a member, you have already established relationships with fellow members - it is a monthly opportunity to keep the relationship up to date. 

Last week was a terrific example of both of those elements. Thanks to everyone for your contribution to a positive day.

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Trevor Price at 9:52:32, 16 Aug 12
Tags: NRG,Birmingham,Advocacy,relationships,Event,,MIdlands,Mastermind,
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How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 3

Getting comfortable with the 'What do You Do' Question

Answering QuestionIn parts one and two of this series of blogs on winning more business through networking I covered some of the foundations. The key to effective networking is all about building advocacy with the right people and getting clear about your target market is essential to identifying the right people for your business network. Another essential part of building advocacy is being able to leave people with a clear idea of what you really do so they can spot opportunities for you.

 

A great way of doing this is to put yourself in the position of your client to understand what they really buy. This can also help in those awkward moments when someone asks what you do. These questions should help you with this.

★ What are the issues your clients have that they need help from you to solve?

★ How do you solve those issues?

★ What are you best results?

★ What would they share with others about this?

 

You can then put this all together in a way that engages others when someone asks what you do;

► You know how (target market + problem)

► What I do is (how I solve the problem)

► The result is (outcomes)

► The benefits are (what you would like your client to tell others)

 

For example, with my NRG Hat on, when someone asks me what I do then I answer something like the following.

 

"You know how the owners of service companies & partners in professional firms get their business through recommendation, but need more? 

 

Well at NRG we run facilitated networking groups where they can do that by building advocacy with others like them. Over time they build an extended network so their route to market is in place and they get to spend most of their time doing what they enjoy and do best."

 

If I have time I then share a story like the ones in these NRG case studies.

 

In the next blog I will be covering how you can identify the right people for your network now you are clear about your target market and proposition.

 

For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:46:23, 24 Jul 12
Tags: Proposition,Target Market,quality,relationships,Networking System,Advocacy,networking
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How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 2

Getting Crystal Clear About Your Target Market

Targetting Your MarketIn the last blog in this mini series on winning more business through networking I wrote about advocacy and the secret to getting started. Building strong relationships with the right people and doing the right things will mean you grow a team of advocates.

 

Advocates are people who not only bring you opportunities and referrals. They go out of their way to do so.

 

In order to identify the right people for you and your business the first thing you need to be crystal clear about is who you do business with. Your target market or niche. Many people struggle with the concept of target market or do not want to miss out on opportunities by being too narrow.

 

A target market does not have to be defined by one type of business or industry. This is typically referred to as a vertical market. A target market can just as easily be identified by the fact that your service provides a solution to a particular problem encountered by different business types across multiple sectors as this diagram shows:

Hprizontal or Vertical Target Market

 

An example of a horizontal market is the PR Professional whose clients need to stand out in a crowded local market in competition with much larger firms. Her clients typically have between 1 & 3 Partners or Directors and she helps them to punch above their weight because of her strong relationships with the local online and print media. She can only do this for one firm or business in each of a broad spectrum of products and services.

 

The reason to get your target market identified as well as you possibly can is that you can then identify who else does business and has influence with them. Some of these other suppliers to that market are the right people you may be searching for! It is with them that you can build strong relationships and that all important advocacy.

 

Part three of this blog series on Getting More Business Through Networking will cover how you express what you do in a way that will really engage others. Until then ....

 

For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:39:11, 13 Jul 12
Tags: Business Networking,Advocacy,Networking System,relationships,quality,Target Market
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How To Win More Business Through Networking Part 1

The NRG Networking Advocacy Model and Your Networking Goals

Unlocking SecretThe secret to winning more business through networking is counter intuitive to many people. It is that you probably know most of the people you need to know already. The secret is spending time getting to know them more rather than just trying to meet lots of new people.

 

This is why we developed the NRG Advocacy System to help with winning more business through recommendation and referral. The system has been developed through research, experience and observation of best practice. The essence of the system is that the right Advocates are your key to a successful business networking strategy. 

 

To apply the system in your business you have to get a number of things sorted out first. You need to be crystal clear about your business proposition and your niche. You must also be motivated to achieve your business development goals. To help you understand how this advocacy system can help you achieve your goals it may help you to get an idea of the value to you of your advocates. That in turn will help you with the motivation you need for the activities that are essential to building the right Advocate Relationships.

 

If you follow the link to the interactive pdf below you can calculate the financial value of an Advocate for your business:

Advocate Lifetime Value Calculator Link

 

The rest of this blog series on Winning More Business Through Networking focuses on how you can tap into that potential value. Part two will cover getting crystal clear on your niche. Until then ....

 

For links to all 8 blogs in the series go to How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

           

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:27:37, 18 Jun 12
Tags: quality,relationships,Networking System,Advocacy,Business Networking
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How To Get More Business Through Networking

Building Advocacy SmallI have been running a series of workshops recently on 'How to Make Networking Really Work For You By Building Advocacy'. At the start of the session I get everyone to complete an honest assessment of where they are starting from. Once you know where you are starting from you can work out the things you need to do to get better results. The most important thing in actually getting more business through networking is then taking action on the things you need to do to get better results. This action plan is what we go on to do in the workshop. For those of you that cannot get to one I am going to cover the different areas in a series of blogs*.

 

The way we get everyone to assess where they are starting from in the workshop is using 10 questions for people to discover their strengths and where they have room for improvement. The questions cover the things that you need to get right to get results as shown in this graphic.

Building Advocacy

 

You can complete these questions using an interactive pdf by clicking on the picture below.

Word of Mouth Readiness

 

* Part one of this blog series 'Getting More Business Through Networking' will cover the NRG Advocacy System and getting a real financial return.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

         

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 20:30:16, 31 May 12
Tags: Advocacy,Networking for Advocates,Business Networking
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Gaining The Edge In Your Business networking

The Slight EdgeOver the last couple of weeks I have listened to the audio version of Jeff Olson's book, The slight Edge. It demonstrates how to create powerful results from the simple daily activities of your life by aligning them with your 'philosophy' and taking responsibility for what happens. This drives your attitude to taking the right actions to bring results. It's the little things that add up over a long time that make the difference. It is the compounding effect of these actions that make the difference in the long term. These things are important to achieving success and easy to do, but just as easy not to do!

 

You can apply this simple approach to business networking. The people who get great results know why they are networking. They have an inner network that helps them achieve these objectives. The way they do this is by building and maintaining strong business relationships with these people.

 

You can do this by having the right foundations:

1. Set your networking objectives - this will give you the reason to do the little things on a daily basis.

2. Identify your target market and develop your proposition in a way that is easy for people to pass on and understand.

3. With a definite idea of the people you do business with and what you do for them you can identify the people that have influence with them. These are the right people to build relationships with and develop your inner network.

 

Once this is in place it is all about the little things you do on a regular basis to maintain these relationships. This includes the regular meetings, 121s, phone calls, introductions you make, referrals you give and the help and support you offer to your network. These regular small interactions over time are the things that lead people to do the things for you that you have identified as your objectives in the first place.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

         

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:46:14, 23 May 12
Tags: Business Networking,System,Networking Relationships,results
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