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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

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Entrepreneur, freelancer or something else?

PuzzledIf you are self employed or running your own business how do you describe your position to other people?

 

You will be described with different labels by your accountant, your bank manager or others marketing products and services to you. These labels include things like 'Owner Manager', 'Freelancer', 'Entrepeneur', 'Independent Professional'.

 

In the NRG Linkedin Group We've been having an interesting discussion on what people like you are comfortable with and what are the differences between each of these labels. You can follow the discussion at http://lnkd.in/_Nu9Wd.

 

A number of points have emerged in the discussion. If you work on your own then you are probably a freelancer or independent professional. Even if you run a business on your own it may well be that you are effectively creating your own job and the business would not exist without you.

 

If you employ people then you may or may not be an entrepreneur. There is some agreement that the title entrepreneur is misused, and should be used when you are building a business that will scale and make a difference.

 

There is a big difference between working on your own and owning and building a business employing others. You may well not be concerned about it, but consider what Chris Kenber said in the discussion, " It (what you call yourself) matters a lot because the title determines your view of your world and what aspirations you have. If you're not clear about this yourself - you should be!"

 

Add your thoughts in the comments here or over in the Linkedin discussion.

 

Good networking!

Dave Clarke

           

 

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:59:20, 25 Jan 13
Tags: Business Development,business,Entrepreneur,freelancer
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Are you charging enough for your service?

PriceI get worried when people ask if the price we charge for our membership and business networking events is a bit expensive. Not because I think we charge too much, but because when I ask a few questions some of these people under value and do not charge properly for their own service. They often charge on a cost recovery or cost plus basis and not on the basis of the value provided

 

A typical NRG Networking event includes a facilitated boardroom session, a 2 or 3 course lunch and an expert speaker. People get some good food and they get huge value in terms of business, support and knowledge. People who think that it is expensive often assume that the cost of providing this service is only limited to the food. They do not take into account the time spent behind the scenes, the additional overhead costs nor the profit needed to sustain the business and to invest and grow.

 

We love making it easy and enjoyable for people to sell more through a close network of trusted friends in business. We are very good at it too. Without covering all of our costs and making a profit we would not be able to do that and make the difference that we do.

 

When was the last time you spent some time on your pricing strategy in relation to the real value you provide?

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

    

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:52:30, 08 Sep 11
Tags: pricing,business,Business Development
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The best way to reach new people

Business RelationshipsThe chances are that at some stage in your business you will want to find new people as clients.

 

If you are a small business providing high value specialist or professional services this can be quite a challenge.

 

Many small firms attempt to address this challenge by investing large sums of money and time in trying to reach this new audience directly. They will try and craft the perfect message and use tactics such as email campaigns, search engine optimisation, or cold calling. The main problem with most of this activity is that it leads to one brief interaction and then nothing. The campaigns that do work are based on building a relationship rather than getting one message across.

 

The more service based you are the harder it is for this sort of approach to work. Very few small organisations have the resources of the very large ones who spend millions on building a trusted brand.

 

So how do you reach new people?

 

When I ask people where they get the best new business from the answer is nearly always 'word of mouth' or 'recommendation'. The best way to reach new people is to do things that generate more 'word of mouth' and 'recommendation'.

 

The chances are that you already know most of the people you need to know to get introduced to enough new people. Invest your time and money in strengthening your ties with your network rather than with strangers.

 

Even if you use other marketing tactics to reach new people your word of mouth networking is still important. Before someone buys your services they will invariably speak to someone else first.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 14:57:45, 03 May 11
Tags: Business Development,Marketing,Networking for Advocates
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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
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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
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Do you invest enough time in following up?

In my last blog, 'How to make networking really work in business', I mentioned some discussions on whether networking is an effective business development strategy. As I wrote there are many people who fail to make networking productive because all they do is attend events. 

 

I am constantly amazed that many people engage in no or very little follow up after meeting. I am sure that most people have the best intentions, but their attention is easily diverted by the next activity. One simple way of doing more follow up is to put it in your diary. If you are going to be attending a networking meeting set aside time in your diary later on or the following day. 

 

I went  to a breakfast meeting of the Carrington Club last week. The founder, Jonathan Rose, said in his introduction "what you get out of networking depends entirely on the effort you put in".

 

Following up is a crucial part of putting that effort in.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 14:23:17, 18 Jan 11
Tags: Business Networking,Networking Follow Up,Networking Tips,Business Development
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How to make networking really work in business

The subject of whether networking is an effective business development strategy comes up regularly in conversations with business people. I enjoyed reading a couple of articles from Andy Lopata and Warren Cass on the subject last week. 


Both Andy in 'Why the Entrepreneurs' Champion could lead them to disaster' and Warren in 'Online Spats… Handbags at Dawn!' were responding to a column in the Telegraph from Lord Sugar and the discussion and comment it provoked.


It was the following comment from Sugar that caused most controversy, "I am sick and tired of hearing people asking what to do, going to networking meetings and seminars expecting to glean some gems of wisdom. These events are money-making exercises and benefit one party and one party only: the organiser. They have become an escape for people to justify sitting around wasting a day bullshitting with each other while they should be working. You will learn nothing other than that there are another load of people in the same boat as you."


The idea that all networking events are for the benefit of the organisers only is patent nonsense. That is just as silly as claiming that any business is only for the benefit of its owners. A good business succeeds when it provides great value to its customers. There are plenty of networking organisations that succeed because they put the interests of their members first.


Where many people fail to make networking productive is they seem to believe the activity of attending networking events is all that is required. The people who make networking really work have people advocating them when they are not there. They get a constant flow of business, support and opportunities through these 'Advocates'. Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. You need to be committed to investing the time to develop relationships and create a network of advocates.

 

That means more than just attending events.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 11:38:14, 12 Jan 11
Tags: Blog,Business Networking,Business Development,Networking Tips,How Networking Works
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Are you networking with the right people?

I met someone last month at one of my regular networking groups. When he explained what he did I advised him that the group may not be great for him and his business. He sold cosmetics direct to consumers and was there to generate leads for his business. The group was made up of professionals and providers of business services.

 

He said, rightly, that everyone there either used or knew people that used the types of products he sold. I said that was true, but they were all there because they shared the same target market. They were not selling directly to consumers of domestic products so the best network for him would be with others selling directly to the same domestic consumers.

 

Successful networking for business development is all about building relationships with the right people. A good place to start when selecting a networking group for business is to find one where the other members sell to the same target market as you.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:51:05, 05 Jan 11
Tags: Business Networking Groups,Business Development,Business Networking
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What is a business networking group?

At a dinner party a couple of weeks ago one of the other guests asked me what I do. I used the phrase 'Business Networking Group' in my reply and she said, "What's a Business Networking Group?"

 

I was a little thrown at first, but realised I shouldn't be. I think we often assume that everyone knows more about whatever it is we do than they actually do. I met someone on a Referral Institute training course yesterday who had once written technical manuals. He said that the instructions included the advice to write so that an 8 year old can understand.

 

Wikipedia describes Business Networking as 'a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity'.

 

I realised that I needed to explain a little bit more. I explained that there are now many more people running their own business than ever before. Many of them are specialists in what they do and do not have any marketing or sales people. They rely on personal recommendation or word of mouth for their business. Their main problem is that they need more of these opportunities than they currently have. Many of the older business support services in the public and private sector do not really help these business people with generating positive word of mouth.

 

Any group exists because the members share and are committed to a common cause. The common cause for the members of a business networking group will usually be helping each other in business. This may be around sharing business, support and information (or all 3). It is mainly the need to generate more business by recommendation that has lead to the growth in the market of specialist business networking groups.

 

A business networking group is a club where the common cause is helping each other become more successful in business.

 

The most important thing in an effective business networking group is that the members don't just share the same needs. They must be in a position to really help each other. That will often mean that the members share similar target markets and provide similar value services. Success is then down to the commitment and contribution they make.

 

Would an 8 year old understand how you describe what you do?

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:44:23, 05 Jan 11
Tags: Business Development,Business Networking,Business Networking Groups,Communication,How Networking Works,Referrals
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The small business advantage in the Digital Age
I write this from a train heading into London. I am on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The purpose of the event is billed as 'to look at why a "Digital Mindset" and Digital Coaching will grow your business.' The tag line for the Ecademy website is now 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age'. 
If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market. 
Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.
Contrast this with the news furore over the last few days about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs the revelations, if true, show some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business. 
You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before. 
Be yourself!

I wrote this on a train heading into London on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The purpose of the event was billed as 'to look at why a "Digital Mindset" and Digital Coaching will grow your business.' The tag line for the Ecademy website is now 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age'. 

 

If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market. 

 

Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.

 

Contrast this with the news furore over the last few months about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs the revelations, if true, show some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business. 

 

You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before. 

 

Be yourself!

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:35:58, 05 Jan 11
Tags: Business Development,Business Networking,Offline Networking,Online Networking,Social Media,Social Networking
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