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Business Networking Blog

Applying the 7 habits to your business networking
The best selling Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey lists the seven habits that will help you become more effective if you work on them.

The 7 habits (be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think "win/win", seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergise, sharpen the saw) are a great place to start with any personal development.

As you might expect they also offer some great insights into how you can be effective at business networking.

* Habit 1: Be Proactive:
You need commitment and the right attitude. Take the lead in conversations, make connections, and share your expertise.

* Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind:
Work out what you want from your networking. If you are not absolutely
clear about this you will be unable to respond when others offer you help.

* Habit 3: Put First Things First:
Set yourself targets for the things that YOU can control including;
• The amount of time you can devote to networking
• The number of events you can attend
• The number of 1-2-1’s you can arrange
• How much time you can spend online
• Building a contacts database
• What introductions you can give
• Choose the right networking organisation for you

* Habit 4: Think Win/Win:
Develop a giving mentality and become an Advocate for others. An Advocate is someone who promotes you and your services without being asked or paid. Remember, what goes round comes round.

* Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood:
When you meet someone through networking you need to bear in mind whether you want to take it further. To help you decide try & listen more than talk, understand their issues and build rapport. Ask open questions and good follow-up questions. Reveal things about yourself to establish common ground.

* Habit 6: Synergise:
Look for synergies whenever you meet people and add them to your network. The value of future collaboration will exceed the sum of what each of you could achieve on your own.

* Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw:
Use the knowledge in your network to constantly learn and improve. Share your knowledge with the network so they can do the same. Look out for networks that value the education that members can share with each other.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:00:00, 12 May 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,7 habits
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Time Management and Networking Follow up
In a recent time management seminar before the monthly NRG London City Group Networking Lunch the presenter, Bob Hayward, shared some time management tips for dealing with new items that come up in our work. The specific context was dealing with emails;

4 Ds & 1 F

Delete it - if it's an email that needs nothing further then delete.
Delegate it - if it's not your job pass it on.
Deal with it - if it's quicker to do something now then do it now.
Diary it - if you need to schedule more time make a specific diary entry.
or
File it - if you don't need to action, but feel you may need to refer to it in future.

The one that seems to get forgotten in networking is the Diary one. People enter networking events and One2One meetings in the diary, but not the time for follow up. So next time you are entering things into your calendar set aside time for following up as well. Also remember that you can make use of time that used to be non productive with the mobile devices that many people carry today.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 9:00:00, 11 May 09
Tags: Networking Follow Up,Business Development,Time Management
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How to get 200 people to an event with 2 weeks notice
I went to a great event earlier this week. Described as a networking 'fundraiser' it was organised for Marlow FM's Community Radio Station. How was it possible to get such a good turnout at such short notice?

The organiser has built a powerful network and provided a lot of support to others so that when he needs something they help him in return. His network of people with influence and contacts in the area all got behind this event. They invited their networks who in turn invited theirs. Everyone else involved in the event invited their respective networks.

What could you do in your business with that sort of network supporting you? If you need to build it then do you know where to connect with others with influence in your market? Where are the conversations taking place between other providers of services in your market? Find the answer and join in those conversations.

It could be that you already have a network that would help, but you haven't let them know what the equivalent event is in your world.

It doesn't have to be 200 people at 2 weeks notice. It could be a referral to your ideal client. As well as helping your network achieve their goals remember to help them with how they can help you.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:00:00, 08 May 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Conversations
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I will give it a go & see if I get anything
I was chatting with someone last week about joining a networking group. He said he thought he would give it a go and see if he got anything. That approach is likely to lead to him saying in a few months "I tried it, but it didn't work!".

Like most things you only get results after you take some action. So best not to 'give it a go' unless you are committed to being proactive. In business networking that means connecting with people, following up, building relationships and giving first before you receive.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 9:00:00, 07 May 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works
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Have you ever had the hard sell at a networking event?
I went to a great event last week where I got to make some good new contacts, followed up with a few people I had met previously and caught up with a few that I knew well. A really enjoyable experience and an efficient use of time like many well organised and structured business networking groups.

A speaker at the event gave some tips on the use of Social Media and online Social Networks. His number one tip was that networking online is no different to offline, it is not selling it is relationship building. I found it ironic that someone then gave me the hard sell!

He approached me and said, "I saw you on the list can I ask some questions?"

"Of course," I replied.

He proceeded to ask his questions and then said, "the reason I am asking is because of what I do..."

Then it turned into a straight sales pitch and the more he pushed the more I resisted until I just switched off altogether. When he gave me his business card I made a note on it to file it in the appropriate place.

He was not interested in me at all!

Remember that business networking is about building relationships first and as Dale Carnegie famously said "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you!"

If you are looking for business today from the people you meet, that is selling. Successful networking builds your business for tomorrow. More in this podcast, 'The difference between Networking and Selling'

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:00:00, 06 May 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works
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Working with your network to generate business quickly
A few months ago my wife was telling me about the troubles a friend of hers was having with her small home based beauty therapy business. Her friend had built a good client base, but a number of them were having less regular treatments due to the effects of the 'credit crunch' on them. She needed to generate some more work.

We discussed some ideas and came up with an action plan including;

* contacting all old clients
* meeting up with other business people she knew in the same market (other providers of services to women in their homes) to see where there were opportunities to cross refer each other
* a party where 3 of them would invite their clients and good contacts to socialise and experience the services of each

The party last week was a great success. 10 new people got to sample the work of the beautician. So she has some new advocates together with 4 new client bookings from the night, another party to do the same in a different village and some work at a hairdressing salon in a nearby town.

Business through networking can take time especially when you are building relationships with new contacts. But don't forget the power of your existing network when you get together and do things for each other. You can generate business very quickly!

Have you thought about any new initiatives with people in your close network recently?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 9:00:00, 05 May 09
Tags: Social Networking,Business Networking,New Business,Referrals
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Internet based marketing & business networking on the increase
In a recent monthly column on the National Networker I wrote about 'UK: Networking Activity on the Increase'. In the post I asked whether 'Offline' networking was growing in line with 'Online' and reported the anecdotal evidence to support the view that it was.

Some research came to my attention earlier this week from Robert Rush of pfa research. The findings in relation to sales & marketing activity in their South West Business Pulse January 2009 make interesting reading:

* 29% increasing activity on internet based marketing with 2% reducing activity
* 16% increasing activity on business networking with 1% reducing activity

Increasing activity in these areas is against a background of 17% reporting an increase in overall activity on sales & marketing as opposed to 26% reporting an overall decrease.

Make sure you don't miss the opportunities that this increase in business networking activity is providing.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 7:00:00, 01 May 09
Tags: Business Networking,Offline Networking,Research,Online Networking
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The Advocacy Model: Develop Advocates
In Stage 3 of the Advocacy Model, form relationships, I wrote about moving from follow up to developing a trusted relationship. The final stage of this journey is Stage 4, Develop Advocates.

This is point at which you are prepared to promote another person actively and unreservedly. The people that you advocate will be in your mind to scout and prospect for when you go to network events. You will look out for suppliers, prospects and potential partners.

The key aspect of this stage of the networking relationship is that it requires continual nurturing. You must keep looking to provide ongoing value to the relationship, eg:
· continuing to make connections and introductions
· using your expertise to provide information to them

As you do this for others, and are seen to do this, the level of trust that others have in you will increase and others will become advocates for you. For my story on how this approach can save you time and money see, 'Networking groups save time'

For more on the Advocacy Model of building trusted relationships in Business Networking see the following posts:
How to build trust in business relationships
Business Networking: The Advocacy Model
The Advocacy Model: Making a Contact
The Advocacy Model: Follow Up
The Advocacy Model, Develop Advocates

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:50:00, 30 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking for Advocates,Trust
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The Advocacy Model: Form Relationships
I wrote last time that once you have made a good connection the best way to follow up is to arrange a OnetoOne meeting to discuss things further. Stage 3 of the Advocacy Model, form relationships, is next.

Assuming your assessment after Stage 2 is positive you should be prepared to
make a ‘qualified referral’. This is where you connect this person to another with the proviso that you have limited experience of their capability. You should also be prepared to invite them to join your network group and share helpful information and advice with them.

If appropriate you might work with them on a low risk joint project.

Your objectives are to:
· Get feedback
· Build trust in them and their capability
· Continue to make qualified referrals until you decide to move forward

When you make that decision and provided you still like them you are almost at the Advocate stage. More on that next time.

For more on the Advocacy Model of Business Networking see the following posts:
How to build trust in business relationships
Business Networking: The Advocacy Model
The Advocacy Model: Making a Contact
The Advocacy Model: Follow Up

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:50:00, 29 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking for Advocates,Trust,Referrals,Networking Relationships
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The Advocacy Model: Follow Up
Once you have made a good connection the best way to follow up is to arrange a OnetoOne meeting to discuss things further.

These One2One meetings can often go wrong for 2 main reasons;
1. People use it as an opportunity to go straight into a sales pitch. Networking is NOT selling, the advocacy model for business networking is all about building relationships for the longer term. A good advocate will recommend you and your products and services time and time again without being asked or paid.
2. The meeting becomes a social chat with no agenda or purpose.

In order to get to the next stage the purpose of this meeting is to:
· Discuss mutual interests
· Validate your initial assessment (do you still like them?)
· Research their business
· Appraise qualification, experience, ability (your judgement)
· Balance potential value versus risk (your time)

If your assessment is positive then you need to undertake some actions in order to move into the forming relationship stage. With each you are extending more trust and helping your continued assessment:
· Invite them to a regular networking group you attend
· Introduce to a trusted contact
· Send some useful information to them

For more on the Advocacy Model of Business Networking see the following posts:
How to build trust in business relationships
Business Networking: The Advocacy Model
The Advocacy Model: Making a Contact

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast


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Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:49:00, 28 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking for Advocates,Trust,Networking Relationships,Networking Follow Up
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