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Business Networking Blog

The 6 Vital Things In Business

Six ThingsAs someone who runs business networking groups I like to find other good networks where I can participate as a member. It is important that the ethos of these groups is about connecting and building relationships first. One of my groups is The Oyster Club and I attend the Monthly Seed Pearl Breakfast which is excellent and hosted by Tanya Mann Rennick. At this months breakfast I met David White who is Chairman of Weboptimiser. We had a good chat and discovered a few things in common so I looked up his profile on the weboptimiser website.

 

The first paragraph really struck a cord with me. David wrote,

 

"I have learned that there are six vital things in business. Finding friends, finding out how you can help them, helping them, keep thinking about them, finding others like them and introducing them to each other."

 

I could have written that myself about a successful approach to business and networking. In fact I have written similar about building a business by referring others and making friends in business on this blog before.

 

As David has proven networking really is at the heart of business success.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 16:34:48, 10 Oct 13
Tags: business friends,Networking Relationships,Networking Groups,Business Networking
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Influence: How to Steal a March on Your Competitor

ChoiceIn How To Punch Above Your Weight In Business Bob Hayward shared the 7 principles he uses to win business with larger companies and organisations. Often against competition from larger consultancies like Accenture and the like. Bob expands on one of his principles here with this guest blog on the psychology of influence. 

 

 

 


Influence: How to Steal the March on Your Competitors by Bob Hayward

 

In his book, Blink!, Malcolm Gladwell refers to something that you do every day. It’s called “thin slicing”, and it’s that instantaneous decision you make about something else based on the flimsiest of evidence. You catch a glimpse, and you draw a conclusion. You get a whiff, and that reminds you of an entire meal.

 

But in every case, you make a judgement based on a small part of the whole. And that’s because you’ve learned what to expect. Daniel Kahneman* refers to this as fast thinking – deciding to do something automatically, without feeling the need to mull over it. It’s important that you recognize not only that decisions are made like this, but also to use it to win large contracts.

 

How can you persuade anyone to buy your products or services without them having to think much about it?

 

How can you influence them to choose you over someone else?

 

The answer is that it’s all in how you present your proposal. There are several steps that are necessary to do this. Get these right, and you’re practically assured of success. Get them wrong, and you might as well take the rest of the day off.

 

Consider four straight forward steps.

 

1. Liking

2. Social Proof

3. Contrast

4. Scarcity

 

1. The first thing you need to do is to make the most of the small talk. This is your chance to “break the ice” – “build rapport” and pleasantries can do just that because during the small talk you can demonstrate common ground or similar interests. Your primary goal is to get them to consider you as similar to them in some way, as like them. Robert Cialdini** refers to this as ‘Liking’. When people like you, then it’s entirely normal for them to trust you, and to consider buying from you.

 

2. The next step is ‘social proof’. This is where the bigger companies sometime have the advantage. The sheer weight of their reputation, (not to mention their burly consultants), and vast range of projects give them ‘authority’ on a grand scale. This is where your client list is wheeled out. In most cases, just by having worked with X,Y or Z, you look more like a viable option. This, too, increases trust. Give two or three verbal case study examples of people or companies, a before and after story. Make them as relevant as possible so they can sense someone else in their exact same shoes, with a very similar situation made a decision in your favour and benefitted well from it.

 

3. The next step is contrast. Here you compare the benefits of what you can do to your competitors. There will be aspect of your proposal which will be the same as that of your competitors and there will be aspects where you differ. Here is where you need to position yourself as an expert whose strengths more closely match the needs of your prospect and add significantly more value with much less risk. Remember the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain so not only do you need to be the best option you also have to be the safest option.

 

4. Even if the consider you as ‘like them’ – even if three other clients had exactly the same problem as them and now thanks to you are living on cloud nine – even if there is a massive return on their investment and zero risk you may still need to provide another reason for your prospect to buy. And that is scarcity.

 

This widget is only available from you, or only available at this price in this form for today, some aspect has to be ‘scarce’. Find one key aspect to tip the scales in your favour right now. The qualifier is that they must decide quickly, otherwise you will be too busy later. Quite often, a little urgency is all it takes to get prospects to make a decision, provided that you’ve effectively implemented the other steps.

 

Then you can ask for the order.

 

If your prospects like you, recognise your authority, see the relevance of your client case studies, accept that you are better positioned to solve their problem than your competitors, and feel the need to use you as soon as possible, then you’ll win the business.

 

But, if you get any of these steps wrong, then you’ll disrupt their thin slicing and force them into slow thinking. They’ll have to concentrate on what you’ve said, and then discuss their options with other decision makers. The longer this process goes on, the less likely it will be that you’ll win the business.

 

Instead of stealing the march, you’ll be lucky to keep up.

 

* Kahneman, Daniel. Of 2 Minds: How Fast and Slow Thinking Shape Perception and Choice.

** Cialdini, Robert. Influence: The Power of Persuasion

Further reading:

Granger, Russell. The 7 Triggers to Yes!

 


 

Thanks again to Bob for sharing those insights and you can read more from him in his blog.

 

For more on influence see The Science of Persuasion And Business Networking which includes a short video on the Science of Persuasion.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:15:32, 25 Sep 13
Tags: Influence,Collaboration,Advocacy,Business Networking
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A 60 second presentation that works!

60 second presentation that works!

 

You go to networking events. 

 

You have just one minute to make an impression. 

 

Here is a formula I learnt from Bernie De Souza that really works.

 

The format is:

 

Introduce yourself  (just who you are)

 

Fact 1  (a generally accepted fact relating to what you do)

 

Fact 2  (another generally accepted fact relating to what you do - you are now getting audience buy in)

 

Statement of what you do and benefit.  (focus on the benefit)

 

2 options:

 

Option 1   (your call to action)

 

Option 2   (continue doing nothing)

 

Close  (include a tagline)

 

So, here is an example:

 

"Hi, I’m Martin Davies from NRG.

 

Most business owners of service organisations know that they get their best business through word of mouth referrals.  They go to networking events but just don’t get enough business referred to them.

 

At NRG over the years we have developed a system for getting business referrals which works.  We call it the NRG Advocacy System and through it you can develop a personal network of the right people who go out of their way to introduce you to your target market.  We call them your Advocates.

 

So, what is easier for you?

 

Download a free copy of The NRG Advocacy System which will take you through the steps of how to build your personal network of Advocates and through them succeed in growing your business consistently.

 

Or you can continue being frustrated in your networking activity.

 

My name is Martin Davies from NRG – we help people build advocates."

 

Easy!

 

Good networking.

 

Martin Davies

NRG Business Networks

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Martin Davies at 10:21:30, 14 Aug 13
Tags: Business Networking
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How To Punch Above Your Weight In Business

Punching above your weight in businessOne of the things that directors and partners of small or micro businesses often say to me is that they would like more business with larger companies and organisations. At the NRG Lunch in London on Tuesday Bob Hayward gave a talk on how he as a one man business regularly wins contracts against competition from Accenture and the like through networking and collaboration. In this guest blog Bob shares the 7 principles he uses.

 

 

 

 

 


How To Punch Above Your Weight In Business by Bob Hayward

 

Big companies have a track record for clinching the big deals.

 

They have a strong selling proposition, they are seen as the safe bet and a huge network from which they can draw a team of people that can deliver real value.

 

But, what about the little guy?

 

What if it’s just you?

 

How can you win the big contracts?

 

Here are the seven principles that you need to follow.

 

1. You must offer unique value.

 

You must think like your prospect: If you have 10 proposals in front of you, how will you decide which one to choose?

 

One of the key factors will be how they differ.

 

If nine of them are the same, which one are you likely to spend the most time evaluating?

 

The tenth one.

 

And the same thing is true here.

 

You have to make sure that there is clear, blue water between your proposal and the ones your competitors submit.

 

2. Develop relationships with your connections.

 

Since the advent of social media, the be-all and end-all has been to build vast networks with thousands of connections.

 

Connecting is an essential first step because it establishes a mutually beneficial relationship with a number of people.

 

However, you have to put in the time and effort to develop those connections, and to do that, you have to add value to them first.

 

An easy way to give value to those in your network is to refer business to them. And that means you have to get to know them first.

 

3. Form a team from your network of those you can trust for advice and cooperation.

 

John Donne said that “No man (or woman) is an island.”

 

That is more true now than it was in his day.

 

No one, not even you, is indestructible; and none of us can know everything.

 

A team of people who will tell you what you need to hear and who will collaborate with you is an invaluable asset. The big boys do this particularly well. Often the people they put on a job are not employees; rather they are associates – self-employed one-man-bands.

 

That means that sole proprietors like you can beat them at their own game.

 

4. Make a persuasive presentation.

 

This may sound obvious. On the other hand, how often have you experienced “death by PowerPoint”? And how often have you come across bland proposal documents?

 

It still happens, and all too often.

 

Ensure that you’re well-prepared.

 

You’ll only get one chance.

 

Invest in yourself. Enroll in the best persuasion and presentation training you can find. You will be rewarded many times over.

 

5. Connect with the decision-maker on a personal level.

 

The most important thing you can do is to make it easy for him or her to like you personally.

 

Doing so will make everything that you have to say easier to accept and will add credibility to you and your ideas.

 

6. Demonstrate your commitment.

 

Gamblers let their desire for gain override their fear of risk.

 

Business-men and women are just the opposite.

 

You can instill their confidence in you by removing any risk they feel.

 

When you pitch for a big contract, your prospect needs to know that you will give everything you have; not just everything you can.

 

7. Some people energize, some drain. You do either one or the other.

 

That means that if you’re not giving, then you’re taking.

 

Your energy and enthusiasm has to carry both you and them over the line; you won’t get the contract unless they feel that there is something different about you.

 

If you want to punch above your weight, then you must be able to deliver value in a different way to the big boys.

 

And you can do that by showing your prospects that you can give them what no one else can: a unique idea delivered through a team of top quality professionals who know the client better than anyone, who have more energy than the competition and who demonstrate a greater commitment to exceptional value with very low risk.

 


 

Thanks to Bob Hayward, himself a ‘one-man-band’,  for that sage advice. Bob has won several mult-million pound contracts from global blue chip companies. The seven key principles have been a consistent part of those success stories. He has promised to expand on some of his principles in future guest blogs. Until then ...

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:00:22, 31 Jul 13
Tags: buisness networking,Advocacy,Collaboration
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The Science of Persuasion And Business Networking

Many of the posts in this blog are about how you go about building a business network and motivating the people in that network to help you achieve your goals. The NRG Advocacy Model* helps you to take a strategic and scientific approach to this. In 'Networking and The Psychology of Persuasion' I wrote about the lessons for networking from the leading text book on the science of persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin.

 

This excellent short animated video about the ideas in the book help explain some more about the science behind this approach.

 

*For more on how you can use the NRG advocacy model to take your networking to another level read& How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 21:19:09, 01 Jul 13
Tags: Persuasion,Science,Influence,Advocacy,Word of Mouth,Research,Business Networking
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Take a different approach to networking

New ideaThis is a guest blog from Jeremy Marchant on taking a different approach to Business Networking. Jeremy is a long standing member of NRG and his approach is very much in line with the NRG Advocacy Model*. You can find out more about Jeremy at this link to his website, Emotional Intelligence at Work.

 

 

 


 

Take a different approach to networking, by Jeremy Marchant

 

Many people misunderstand the purpose of a networking event. It isn’t to get customers, or even leads. It certainly isn’t to ‘sell to the room’.

 

We believe the purpose of a networking event is to find out how you can help other people (and to then help them). Givers gain, as one networking organisation puts it.

 

Many business people do not attend networking events. This can be for a variety of reasons

 

They don’t need to. They have enough clients already.

 

They believe it doesn’t work.

 

They believe they can’t do it.

 

They believe they will be embarrassed.

 

In truth, many people who do go to networking events go to them with the wrong approach. We know of one businesswoman who joined a networking club and attended an event each month for a year. After that, she stopped. ‘How come?’, we asked. ‘Because I didn’t get any clients’. ‘How many one to ones did you have?’, we asked. ‘None’, she said.

 

Frankly, this is not at all surprising. Very few people will go to an event with the intention of giving business to someone they don’t know. This person needed to hold as many one to ones as time permitted. She needed other people in the group to know – and understand – what she did, so that they could identify her as a good person for their contacts to know when those contacts had specific problems she could help with.

 

She also needed the right people in the group to know. You go to the networking event to find the right people to have one to ones with. You hold the one to ones so these people can find out what you do.

 

But you also hold the one to ones so that you can find out how you can help them. Arguably that’s even more important. Most people will help someone who has helped them – and help willingly given is far more effective than help which is demanded. So one criterion for assessing who the right people are to hold one to ones with is the extent to which you can help them.

 

People who don’t need networking because they have enough clients need to be confident that this isn’t a short term ‘hand to mouth’ situation. The term ‘business development’ these days is being used to mean ‘sales’, yet, in truth, sales can only ever be a short term tactical activity – that’s its whole rationale. The development of a business can only be strategic. Strategic means of getting clients include active advocacy and referral relationships, we argue.

 

People who believe they can’t do it, or that networking doesn’t work (usually the same belief), probably need to improve their game – and maybe go to networking events which are empathetic to the ideas set out above.

 

People who believe they’ll be embarrassed are probably right – but in the immortal words of Susan Jeffers, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. They won’t be embarrassed the second or any later time.

 


 

*For more on how you can use the NRG advocacy model to take your networking to another level read How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:54:56, 20 May 13
Tags: Business Networking,Givers Gain,
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Resilience & Agility In Business

resilience and agilityI have been invited to speak this month at the Pitch Perfect Club on Resilience & Agility in Business. The event takes place in London on the 23rd May. It has got me thinking Resilience & Agility In Business and stories to illustrate that.

 

One of the major reasons for taking my first 'proper' job was the conference they had planned in Tenerife two weeks after starting. The other reason was the professional sales training programme they would put me through. The job was as a salesperson for the Loctite Corporation's new UK Consumer Division launched to capitalise on the success of their Superglue product. After the conference and a mix of classroom and on the job training I was handed my car, the tools of the job and a map of my sales territory.

 

I learned a lot about life in general and business in particular during my 5 years with Loctite where I finished up managing National Retail Accounts. The first thing I learned was resilience and how to pick yourself up time and time again after a less than positive sales call. I guess the picking yourself up was relearned as, after all, I'd successfully learned to walk many years ago! I learned that resilience came from developing a reason for why I was doing the job, how to enjoy it and from viewing any rejection as a rejection of me in my role and not as something personal.

 

The second thing I learned was the benefit of speed & agility. Part of the job entailed efficient journey planning and working to an agreed plan. I soon discovered that the flexibility to break away from that plan could bring unexpected rewards and bonuses. Part of my job involved selling to new and different outlets and on a number of occasions I found myself selling to one retailer who turned out to be part of a franchise or regional chain and an immediate diversion to a head office or other outlets would increase a sale exponentially.

 

I have subsequently incorporated strategies for developing resilience and agility in a number of start-up small businesses including one where the result was a successful referral to both the BBC and Turner Broadcasting from a division of Vodafone.

 

Lessons for Business Networking

 

When you build relationships with people in business through networking you are looking for those who will be your advocates*. You increase your attraction if people get a sense that you know where you are going, you make a real difference and you enjoy what you do. All of these are things also help build your resilience for the inevitable challenges you will face in business.

 

The speed with which you follow up and the agility you demonstrate in finding ways to support your network will also help others to advocate you when opportunities present themselves.

 

*For more on growing an advocate network take a look at the resources in How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by at 16:35:44, 03 May 13
Tags: Advocacy,Business Networking,business,agility,resilience
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The Time It Takes To Win Business From Networking

ActionYou don't get fit by joining a gym. You get fit by working out a programme to get fit and then following that programme. That may involve joing a gym. It's the same with networking. You don't get business by joining a networking group. You develop business through proactively building you network in the right way with the right people.That may involve joining a networking group.

 

A frequent question from the guests I speak to at NRG Networking Events is, "How long does it take to get business from this?"

 

The answer is that if all you do is passively attend the events then it could be a long time. If, on the other hand, you are meeting the right people and you make a point of following up and building your Advocacy Network in the right way then you can start winning business straight away.*

 

As Woody Allen famously said, "80% of success is showing up". The rest is in the follow up.

 

*For more on building the right network take a look at the resources in How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 19:01:13, 03 Apr 13
Tags: Business Networking,Advocacy
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Networking And The Business Model Canvas

Business Model GenerationI enjoyed a presentation from Alex Osterwalder, co-author of Business Model Generation, at Campus London last week. Alex spoke about Business Model Mechanics and how better business models out-compete a focus on products and technology. This video is a good introduction to the tool he has developed, The Business Model Canvas.

 

 

There are nine key areas on the canvas:

1. Key Partners

2. Key Activities

3. Key Resources

4. Value Proposition

5. Customer Relationships

6. Channels

7. Customer Segments

8. Cost Structure

9. Revenue Streams

 

The key partnerships section of the canvas shows you the importance of building a strong network for both business support and business development. A quick run through the canvas can also identify other areas for collaboration or outsourcing. It can be a great tool for helping you focus on your networking goals.

 

Networking is all about building strong relationships with the right people for you and your business. A strong network is important for both generating business and for supporting you in being able to deliver your core business.

 

For more on building the right network take a look at the resources in How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:46:21, 06 Mar 13
Tags: Business Networking,Key Partnerships,Business Model Canvas
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How Large Does Your Network Need To Be?

Linkedin 2nd and 3rd Degree ConectionsIn a recent article 'How Large Is Your Network? The Power of 2nd and 3rd Degree Connections' Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman compared the number of relationships you can manage in your network with the number of pictures you can store on a camera memory card. Neither is infinite and you have a limited capacity for the number of stable relationships you can manage just as a memory card can store fewer high quality images than low quality ones. Success in business networking comes from managing a good network of 1st level connections who can introduce you to their connections as and when required.

 

In the article which is well worth a read Hoffman refers to the Dunbar number which I have written about before. Dunbar has demonstrated that you can only maintain a certain number of relationships and this probably means that the more relationships you try and maintain directly the less effective your networking will be.

 

You may be tempted to interact equally with your close and extended networks. but you need to prioritise. If you want to generate more business through recommendation you are more effective by maintaining close relationships with a smaller number who have access to and influence with the people you want to do business with. Your ultimate business support network is probably just a handful of people that you interact with on a daily and weekly basis. It is through nurturing the relationships with them that they will recommend and introduce you to the people you want to meet.

 

Good networking!

Dave Clarke

           

 

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:25:18, 14 Feb 13
Tags: Business Networking,dunbar,Linkedin
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