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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

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 | business networking events | business networking podcast


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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
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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, 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
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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
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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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The Advocacy Model: Making a Contact
In 'Business Networking: The Advocacy Model' I outlined the four steps involved.

The first is making contact or connecting. When you meet someone through networking the key factors that lead to a networking relationship are:
· do I like them?
· do I find them interesting?
· are there points of contact (business or personal)?
· do I want to take this further?

This connection may not happen the first time you meet someone. It may take time attending regular meetings to get to liking someone, finding them interesting or establishing points of contact. One of the great things about interacting with people in a regular group is that you get the time to make connections with people that you might have dismissed on the basis of a single brief meeting.

In order to address the last question you need to learn enough about the person to decide. That means having a real conversation rather than a superficial one where you just exchange business cards and move on.

When the time is right and you both decide that further exploration is worthwhile then you can move to the second stage, 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 11:49:00, 27 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking Connections,Networking for Advocates
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Business Networking: The Advocacy Model
I mentioned the Advocacy Model in a recent post on 'How to build trust in business relationships'. I have also made reference to the various steps in many of the recent posts so thought it worth summarising the model again here.

1. Make contact
Usually a conversation at an event or networking group meeting
2. Follow up
Often a One2One interaction or smaller group to decide whether to move forward and how.
3. Form relationships
The next stage after having done something for the other person in the follow up to help them or their business. Or when they have done that for you.
4. Develop Advocates
Provide ongoing value to the relationship by continuing to make connections and using your expertise to provide information to them. Regular feedback and thanks to the ones doing this for you.

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, 24 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking Connections,Networking for Advocates,Trust,Networking Relationships,Networking Follow Up
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What happens next? Part 2
A couple of days ago in my post on 'What happens next?' I shared the loose agenda structure that I use in One2One meetings to build towards a mutually beneficial and positive business relationship. The ultimate purpose being to develop networking advocates.

Neil Denny commented that the model is mostly easy to grasp and implement, except for the last one. "The next steps (typically connections to people & information) that you will undertake before meeting again."

He rightly points out that this calls for action and accountability and demonstrates credibility and commitment. Relationship building in networking this way requires that you give an increasing level of trust at each stage. It is very difficult to commit yourself to this and to making those connections to people & information unless you are wholeheartedly committed.

If you are committed to building trusted relationships where you give first and receive later then try & go a little deeper with your questions on the other person's background & business. Find out about their goals, the real challenges in their business and its development, their other interests and the people and businesses they know. See if you can establish the person or information that would make a real difference and make that connection.

Then you have the next steps in place. The action followed by the next session to get feedback and decide the next stage. With this approach you develop the relationship in the way that Neil described in his comment;

"We start to share commercial intimacy and build relationships that work, as opposed to more passive, and probably easier but less fruitful relationships."

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 7:30:00, 23 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking for Advocates,Trust,Networking Relationships,Networking Follow Up
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How much time do you get for conversations whilst networking?
A couple of days ago I blogged about a question that is often asked, 'How many people will be at the event?'. There were some great insights shared in the comments.

The underlying theme was that context, philosophy and actions were far more important than just the number of attendees. This brings us on to another issue. You need to have meaningful conversations to really connect with someone before going on to follow up and build a relationship.

So when you are thinking about attending an event or joining a group it might be important to ask a different question.

'How much time is dedicated to genuine 2 way conversation and is the meeting facilitated in any way to assist with those conversations?'

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, 22 Apr 09
Tags: Business Networking,How Networking Works,Networking Relationships,Conversations
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