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Business Networking Blog

Is it easy for your network to help you?

Easy as ABC and 123Earlier today I wrote in the NRG expert speaker blog about Richard White's recent talk at the NRG City of London Group. The full title of the talk was 'The missing piece of the networking jigsaw: how to make it easy for you to win more business'.


Richard shared a number of insights including his number one networking tip, "There are so many small things that can impact the results you get from networking. I think you could sum them all up into an overall tip which is to make it easy for people to help you win more business."


I meet many people who have built some really good business networking relationships, but don't get the results their efforts deserve. Plenty of people know, like, and trust them, but don't fully understand what they do or need. They have not made it easy for others to help them.


Richard went on to say, "Probably the biggest way to make it easy for others to help us is to be able to clearly articulate who we need to be connected to and why they would want be connected with us. This is not as easy as it sounds. Whilst we might think we understand our business inside out, making it easy for others to understand it is a much harder task. A key part of this is being prepared to truly specialise in our area of maximum credibility. It’s much easier for people to help us when we have a specialist niche and a proven track record."


A great piece of advice from Richard on how to make it easier for others to help you.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:52:15, 26 Apr 11
Tags: business networking blog,Business Development,business networking tips
28211 Views 0 Comments

How to use the spirit of Networking on Linkedin

Linkedin Networking Statistics

On my Linkedin Profile I can see those people I am connected to and their friends. This is a really useful feature as it means I can request an introduction if I would like to get in touch with someone I don't know. I am surprised that more people don't make use of this. I am even more surprised when I receive a generic message from someone when we share mutual connections. 


This week I received a Linkedin message like this (I have removed any obvious identifying text): 


"Dear Dave

Since we are connected via .......... and share the ............. group,

in the spirit of LinkedIn networking I thought I’d reach out.

 Any chance you could help?

 Would it be possible to introduce me to any of your associates

involved in ................. and responsible for ...........................?

As you can see from my profile we have developed a service that .............

Your help is really appreciated if you have a couple of minutes thanks Dave.



It was a very polite message, but from someone I don't know and with a pretty generalised request to non specified contacts. It was effectively the online equivalent of a cold call and missed the spirit of networking on Linkedin altogether.


To be in the spirit of Linkedin networking  the person should have asked our shared connection for an introduction to a specific contact of mine. A request from a trusted contact with their endorsement is much more likely to produce a response.


Use Linkedin properly and you have some very powerful tools to complement your networking.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:51:26, 19 Apr 11
Tags: Linkedin,Online Networking
27428 Views 2 Comments

Are you too focused on meeting new contacts?

RolodexIn the search to find new business or new opportunities through networking you can find yourself spending most of your time meeting new people. When you are building and maintaining a vibrant network you need to make new connections, but take care that it is not at the expense of existing ones. Make sure you allocate sufficient time for keeping in regular contact with the people you already know.


People advocate the people they know, like, rate and trust for the business and job opportunities they find. It can take a long time to build a relationship to that level, but if you do not keep it up it can be much quicker to lose it.


I spoke to one professional last week who was looking for new consultancy work. His whole focus was on finding new people. He had not thought to keep in touch with the people from his last 2 big projects. Not just the clients, but the other professionals and contractors who had been involved. He had even employed some of these himself. The reality is that he is much more likely to find what he needs through these people than through the fleeting contact he has with most new connections. These older relationships will need some work to rebuild, but that is likely to be much quicker than starting from scratch.


When was the last time you went through your contacts to see if you ought to spend more time with some of them?


A little bit of keeping in touch really does go a long way to making your networking productive.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:48:02, 13 Apr 11
Tags: Networking for Advocates,Networking Relationships
26825 Views 2 Comments

What is an advocate worth?

Networking AdvocatesRecently I was speaking after an NRG Lunch about the Value of an Advocate.  As those of you who know NRG will know we are always promoting the value of developing advocates and that there is evidence that advocacy works and works well.

So my question was "How much time should you invest in developing an advocate?"

I went through an exercise trying to put a financial vale of such advocacy.  It was a small group so I asked them the following questions:


Have you got one or more advocates? 
5 out of 7 replied positively - interestingly most of the advocates were clients or ex clients.  The other learning point was that the 2 people who said they had no advocates also said they had had no referrals in the last year.

What is the value of a new client was in the first year? 
Out of 7 respondees the average value was £16,000 revenue in the first year.

What is your referral conversion rate?
The interesting point was that they all agreed that the conversion rate of referrals from advocates was much higher than other referrals - they knew what to look for.

What is your client retention rate?
They agreed 70% was an average figure.

How many times a year did an advocate refer?
The consensus was 4 to 5 times.


This produced some astonishing results. 


The average revenue arising from one advocate in the first year was £32,000.

But when you work out the Lifetime Client Value for all the referred clients from one advocate (over 5 years) the present day value was a staggering £255,000! 


Imagine what four such advocates could bring you?

So, the answer to the question "How much time and effort do you invest in building advocates?" everyone agreed was a simple one - "a lot for £1 million!!"


Martin Davies

NRG Business Networks

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:33:57, 05 Apr 11
Tags: Business Networking,nrg advocacy model,nrg advocate model,Advocacy
24273 Views 0 Comments

Business Networking: Quality or Quantity?

QualityI know many people who, like me, generate all their new business through effective networking. For them networking is about much more than new business. It is about having the right support network in place to enable them to do better business all round. Their networking is focused on the relationships they have built and are building with the right people for them and their business.


It can often appear as though these successful networkers have hundreds or even thousands of connections. That can lead people to think that effective networking is about large numbers.


The reality is that these people are often known to huge numbers, but that is not where their success comes from. It comes from their regular interactions with a much smaller number. It's the relationships with this close trusted inner network that produce the results.


This short podcast is about the confusion that arises around the subject of quantity or quality in networking.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 18:28:38, 04 Apr 11
Tags: quality,Networking Relationships,Inner Network,Networking for Advocates
29371 Views 0 Comments

Do you always remember to say Thank You

Thank YouIn her blog post 'A time to say thank you!' Fiona Bevan wrote about how she was reminded to find new ways of thanking strategic partners. She was going to create a new page on her website to endorse them. She also mentioned Linkedin and the use of recommendations and testimonials.


A Thank You goes a long way and is important in maintaining relationships. The biggest complaint I hear in Networking applies to those people who have forgotten to say thank you or give any feedback following a referral. Referrals soon stop without a thank you. Some people use gifts or cards, but in person, by phone or emal can be equally appropriate.


The same applies online. If someone recommends you or shares some of your content  via Social Media remember a quick thank you. I know people  who have stopped retweeting users on twitter because they never got an acknowledgement.


Saying Thank You is good manners and also part of the vital follow up process.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 10:40:13, 31 Mar 11
Tags: Networking Follow Up,Networking Relationships
11027 Views 0 Comments

Business to business online networking essentials

Linkedin 100 Million MembersLast week I received an email from Linkedin Founder Reid Hoffman thanking me for being one of their first million members (number 216977). They now have over 100 million members!


At a recent NRG Xtra session before a networking lunch we had a discussion on the relevance of online networks for those providing services to other businesses. It is surprising to me when I meet business professionals not using online networks, but then I am an early adopter as you can see above. During the discussions it was clear that a Linkedin presence is now seen as an essential requirement for business professionals. Just having a Linkedin profile, however, is not going to be any use unless you do something. You need to regularly spend time interacting with and adding value to your network by sharing things with them. 


We have had a couple of expert speakers at NRG recently who have covered this particular subject. Thomas Power of Ecademy spoke in Bristol at the start of the year and Madlen Nicolaus of Kodak in London. Both of them advocated the importance of an active online presence. Thomas talked about its importance in the context of building your personal brand. Madlen concentrated on its importance in the overall context of b2b marketing.


The other essential that both these experts agreed on is that you should have a blog where you share your expertise and opinion. It can be on your website or if that is not possible use a free service like blogger, wordpress or similar. This might be just the written word, but could also include audio and video. Depending on your business it may be that you should be sharing and interacting online in other places like Facebook and Twitter too. You have thousands of choices, but the main one for business professionals is Linkedin. 


It may well be that you need more than your individual profile. I manage my own profile on Linkedin along with the NRG company profile and the NRG-networks Group.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:39:00, 28 Mar 11
Tags: social networkng,Blog,Online Networking
28751 Views 1 Comments

Your business network is also social

I recently wrote that networking is not a numbers game and someone replied that it is a people game. She was right and that means it is a social activity. It is no accident that much of the best business networking takes place in a social setting around the sharing of food.

NRG networking lunch

In fact most of our time is spent in real life social networks. These include our family, school friends, college friends, work friends, church, social clubs, sports clubs, business groups, community groups, hobbies etc. In each of these we will have a few really close ‘connections’ or ‘friends’ and some more looser ties. It is not always appropriate to mix people from the different groups and this is often the distinction that people make about their 'business network'. In the social network for your business you will also need some really close connections and you need to invest time and effort in building the right relationships.


When you accept that your business network is social then it makes it easier to decide who to network with. First it's about finding those with something in common. That will include target market, geography, and shared interests and outlook. You will know some of these already, but you may need to find some good networking groups that you are comfortable in. Then it's about spending time with the people you like and getting to rate and trust each other. The sharing of business, support and knowledge is part of that relationship building process.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 10:03:55, 22 Mar 11
Tags: Social Networking,Business Development
31646 Views 1 Comments

Structured or unstructured Networking?

Structured Networking

When you are choosing the right networking events for you there is an enormous choice. This includes both structured and unstructured networking. Unstructured networking tends to be an event where the organiser's main business is some other service. Many business owners and professionals find these a daunting experience. Business Networking membership organisations usually organise more structured events. Some of these are closed and some are open. So which approach suits you?


I have had several conversations recently on the subject of different types and styles of networking. One of these was written up by Mark Lee for an article on accountingweb on the subject of open and closed networking. I was contrasting the differing approaches in many structured networking groups between open and closed groups. Mark followed this up with another article from Tim Johnson of 4Networking. Tim explains more about open and closed structured networking here.


Closed groups have a rule of only one member per business category. Others (like NRG) are open to more people in the same category. My experience is that an open collaborative approach like this suits many business owners and professionals more than a closed one.


To find what works for you it is always best to try some. You could start by asking your trusted contacts where they network.


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 12:29:26, 15 Mar 11
Tags: Business Networking Groups
29080 Views 1 Comments

Is your target market market difficult to explain?


In the NRG Business networking System we stress the importance of identifying your target market.

There are two main reasons for this:

1. People can only introduce you to the right people if they know who you want.

2. You can concentrate your networking efforts in building the right relationships.


When I ask people to identify their target market a common answer is "I don't really have a target market. I deal with all sorts of different business types and sizes". Most of the time this is simply a misunderstanding of what target market really means. People often think it means a particular type of business in a particular industry. You may have heard the term 'vertical market' from marketing types to describe this. Many small business owners and professionals have a more 'horizontal market' in that they provide services across different industries and business types. Their target market will be defined by the particular need or problem that their customers have.

I spoke with someone last week in this situation. She is a management accountant and works with a diverse group of business owners as clients. The thing they have in common is that they run successful business, but have no real understanding of the financial side of things. This often leads to cash flow problems and short term reactive decision making. She makes sure they adopt systems to give the current financial information about their business. This helps them make the right decisions and plan for the future. These are the things that identify her target market. 

If you struggle to explain your target market then start with your existing clients and see what common needs or problems they have that they engage you to help with. Nigel Temple of the Marketing Compass has a helpful phrase in this regard. He talks about a market segment as being a group of people with shared needs. 


Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 12:47:39, 09 Mar 11
Tags: Target Market,NRG,Referrals,Networking for Advocates
30352 Views 0 Comments


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