Archive for Education

Dec
14

Building Trust In The Sun

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sunsmallerFrom Christmas to 26 January, Australia turns into a different kind of  place.

The roads are deserted in the cities, people dress more casually at work, they go home earlier – and generally take life less seriously. The six or so weeks of the traditional Australian Summer Break show the country in a different light.

And the weeks leading up to Christmas are generally a madhouse of tying up loose ends at work, while juggling an endless stream of end-of-year and Christmas functions.

It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure … but February can feel like a real hangover.

Because during the last weeks before Christmas and after up to Australia Day, we’ve mostly ignored our marketing activities. Especially our networking and relationship marketing have suffered, and now suddenly it’s February, our cash reserves have dwindled and we need to get some new customers, quick smart.

It can be a tricky time.

Here are some thoughts to make your February feel much better than it might have in previous years.

Doing Your Best In January

Firstly a couple of words about your BNI group:

Many chapters generally slow down during January. If your group is one of those, think about this: the breakfast meetings are primarily designed to impress visitors. Just because your chapter slows down during January, that doesn’t mean you need to stop doing your best for your fellow members.

So schedule in some January one-on-ones, and make a commitment to yourself to spend two hours a week during January on BNI related activities.

Remember we do one-on-ones because of the old saying “people do business with people they know, like and trust”. Business is about people who trust each other. We get to trust each other more as we get to know each other more. It’s not actually about getting to know each other’s businesses so much: it’s about getting to know each other as people. The more I get to know you as a person, the more I will get to trust you – and the more likely it is that I will want to do business with you.

Networking On The Beach

Having some one-to-ones in the summer season in a more relaxed setting and mindset may really help to foster deeper trust. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go and have your one-on-one at a cafe by the beach, in your board shorts. For that matter, why not have your meeting at the beach?
  • Another cool thing to do might be to organise a day at the cricket with a bunch of your BNI colleagues. Plenty of opportunity to talk about business and referrals during a day watching the red ball.
  • Or, maybe you have someone in your group with a boat? Organise a few hours on the water with a bunch of your referral partners. Lots of good opportunity to get to know each other and each other’s businesses better as well.

Referral marketing always starts with one word: Trust.Building trust is rewarding … And there’s no reason you can’t build trust while having fun in the sun.

More Free Time

Besides continuing to build trust in your BNI group, here are some other things to think about during the summer period to keep some good energy in your marketing activities.

  • Most businesses still operate during the break, sometimes on a skeleton staff, and business doesn’t cease during January (although it can sometimes feel that way). So there is actually no reason to slow down too much in your marketing activities.
  • What’s more, people have more time to read what you send them and more opportunities to take time to talk with you.
  • So make sure you send them some good stuff to read, stuff that gives them something to think about – and call a couple of your prospects or clients every week and invite them to have lunch or breakfast.

You’ll be surprised how effective it will be …

I promise you.

Roland-Hanekroot-Web-001This article was written by Roland Hanekroot from New Perspectives Business Coaching.

Roland is the owner of New Perspectives Business Coaching, and the author of “The Ten Truths Trilogy” Business books for business owners who don’t like reading business books, but know that they should. Along with being a 9 year BNI veteran he helps small business owners have more fun in their business and build a business that will sustain them for many years to come.

It’s not “Net-Sit” or “Net-Eat” – It’s “Network”. Successful networking is about learning how to ‘work’ the networking process – not just letting it happen.

In many ways, success at networking is the perfect example of the uncommon application of common knowledge. Most people understand that networking is important to their success – they just lack the step by step process to get the results they want.  Almost no one really incorporates a comprehensive methodology that will build a business through networking. Thus, the need to network is “common knowledge”, and the development of the methodology required to be successful at it is the “uncommon application”

We have found that businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views on networking. For many, the current mindset is that networking is a passive business strategy, not a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered, often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the business owners time and money. Not surprisingly, when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they’re understandably not going to continue.

On the other hand, some proprietors do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. They have networking goals. They may even have a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day.

Networking for business growth must be strategic and focused. Not everyone you meet can help you move your business forward – but everything you do can be driven by the intention to grow your business. 

You have total control over who you meet, where you meet them, and how you develop and leverage relationships for mutual benefit.

Great networkers move their business forward, but they don’t do it alone. Great networkers have a plan, work to expand their network, go the extra mile, know how to get the most value for their time, communicate their message effectively, become the experts, capture their best stories and do what others don’t do.

People are drawn to them. New client go to them because they hear about them from so many people. Great networkers don’t need to do much selling, because many people come to them, ready to buy.

Imagine that! People coming to you, ready to buy! Are you smiling? You should be. Becoming a great, effective networker is within your reach. Your income is directly related to your ability to network your business for growth. Are you ready to get started?

Are you committed to actively growing your business by word of mouth? Have you decided that now is the time for you to advance from good to great?

If you’re ready, then let’s begin by discovering how well you are networking your business right now.  What are you doing well, and what are you doing not so well? You have to understand this in order to know where you are going.

We’ve made the process a little easier by providing you a structured self assessment tool. Using this exercise you can identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Be honest. Be brutally honest.

It will help you focus on specific goals and accountabilities – and, without a doubt, it will keep you focused on the true meaning of business networking.

Complete your self assessment here.

Taken from The 29% Solution by Ivan Misner.  For more information and how to make really changes in your networking, pick up your copy here.

BNI 1It’s that time of year again … award season!

Hollywood’s got The Oscars, London celebrates The Brits – and Sydney recently glammed up for the BNI Sydney CBD South Red Carpet Awards.

Hosted by Bob and Louise Greenup, the Executive Directors of BNI Sydney CBD South, the Red Carpet Awards honour BNI chapters as well as individual BNI members’ achievements during the previous year.

From Most Valuable Player 2013 (as voted on contribution by chapter members) in each chapter, via Gold and Black Belt Networkers 2013 (more than 50 and 100 one-on-one meetings per calendar year, respectively), to that most coveted of awards – Chapter of the Year 2013 – the anticipation was once again building and building in the room this year.

Who would be the winner for 2013?

BNI 3

BNI All About (BNI AAB) Business Takes Top Prize

Our chapter, like many others in the region, had been working hard to keep improving and adding to past achievements – and it showed. The standards were high and competition was stiff.

At our tables the tension and excitement was almost palpable as we got closer and closer to that final award announcement. BNI All About Business had already been able to proudly celebrate a top-tier number of Gold Networkers and receiving two of only three Black Belt Networker awards.

But would we take out the top prize?

BNI All About Business is a vocal bunch, and I am sure they heard our excited and happy whoops a few blocks down the road when we were declared Chapter of the Year 2013!

How Did We Get Here?

“It takes a true team effort to win the coveted BNI Chapter of the Year award,” says our President Sergio Porfirio.

So, what makes us at BNI All About Business different?

Vision & Purpose – We created a Vision Statement for our chapter in 2011: “All About Business is the most trusted business community in Australia, and we go beyond business.” That vision encourages us to develop our relationships personally, professionally, and within the community. Being clear that our chapter exists for a purpose means all of us individually have a greater than usual commitment to the group as a whole.

Strategy – We have a rotating group of members who meet to steer the ship, assist the leadership, and provide a sounding board for member feedback. Different to the Membership Committee, this Strategic Advisory Board is tasked with protecting the vision while leveraging all the structure and policies of BNI.

Commitment & Engagement – One of the benefits of having a shared vision is that BNI AAB is never short of volunteers to take up leadership and other roles in the group. We always have more volunteers than we have roles for! And with 20% of the membership involved in the Membership Committee, we not only spread the load to avoid burn-out, but we give the Membership Committee the scope to review applicants, members and renewing members with the right amount of due diligence.

Visibility – We rotate our leadership positions every six months to enable all members access to the visibility that leadership brings. This practice also keeps our leadership team fresh and motivated.

And underneath it all, we’re powered by BNI:

  • We respect the structure and policies of BNI and recognise that they are tested, proven, and effective.
  • We don’t try and change the basics.
  • The philosophy of Giver’s Gain is entrenched in our culture.
  • We care about what other members are getting out of our relationship.
  • We put a lot of time and effort into getting to know one another.

BNI 5

Where to for BNI All About Business in 2014?

“What makes All About Business special is that we know we can always be better, do more, and make each other more money. And we’re willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen,” says BNI AAB’s current Education Coordinator, Wendy Lloyd Curley. Wendy, who is a previous BNI AAB President, Vice President and Visitor Host Coordinator, has been our Most Valuable Member of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

We were back the next morning after the awards, working on our strategy for the year – to make sure that each member within our team keeps on winning in 2014.

“You can’t buy that kind of commitment. It comes from a much deeper place,” says Sergio.

I think, he’s right.

Daniela Cavalletti is a proud member of BNI All About Business, where her business holds the copywriting category. She is the founder of Sydney-based boutique communications agency Cavalletti Communications (affectionately known as CavaCom). Daniela and her team are passionate about helping business owners, authors and brands find their unique voice, boldly stand out and become leaders in their marketplace.

Watch a short video of the Red Carpet Awards.

In this first video in the “Why People Resist Networking Series,” Dr. Ivan Misner® lists 4 ideas about why people most likely resist networking and goes into detail about the very first idea–Lack of Confidence.

He offers insight into three different reasons why people lack confidence when it comes to networking and then gives explanations & solutions to combat this reasoning which too often prevents people from reaping the benefits of networking for their business.

Rather than making assumptions, ask more questions.  This was a piece of sage advice that has been given to me both my spiritual mentor, and my sales coach!  No, they are not one in the same, but both have expressed the importance of asking more questions, as well as asking better questions.  Over the years as I have developed my networking skills I have come to learn the importance of not only asking questions but ask good questions.

I often teach people how to network effectively, to get beyond face to face cold calling, to do quality networking that allows you to build relationships with people whom you want to refer business to and who may want to refer business to you.  One of the most popular questions I get from my students is; “How do you start a good conversation with someone I meet at a networking event?”  My response is always the same, “Ask Questions”

People love to  talk about themselves, their businesses, what they are doing that is important to them, and what is going on in their world.  If you are shy, or timid, asking questions will allow you to interact and find common ground with people.  It will take you out of your shell by allowing you to focus on something other than your own fear.

Here are a few tips for asking questions:

Never ask yes or no questions, otherwise you just get yes and no answers and there is no conversation started.  Make sure your questions are open ended.

Ask thoughtful questions that you would really like to know the answer to.  People respond better when they know you are genuinely interested.  We are accustomed to hearing questions like, “How are you?”  “How’s business?”  “What brought you here?”  “What do you do?”  The truth of those questions is that no one really wants to know the answer, they are just being polite.

After you ask a question, listen to the answer.  It may lead you down the path of the next question or you may learn that the person you are speaking to would be a great connection for someone else you know if the room.

Don’t be a Drill Sargent and pummel the person with questions, it is far better to have 2-3 well thought out questions that draw the person into conversation with you, than it is to have a barrage of pointless questions.

One of the finale questions I will often ask people is this, “As I continue to network and meet people here is there anyone you would like to know or anything I can do to help you?”  In fact I almost always finish any conversation that I have with this question,  “Is there anything at all that I can do to help you going forward?”  If there is, I make a note of it, if there is not, I let them know that I am an email away if they can think of anything I can do for them, just drop me a note.

Often I can go to an event and say very little, but I learn a lot. It is said, that a wise man listens and questions, a fool rambles on and on.

hazelGuest Post Written by Hazel Walker: A passion for learning, personal growth, and relationship-building has been invaluable to Hazels evolution as a woman, a mother and an entrepreneur. Find out more at http://hazelmwalker.com/

yellowtieNetworking and gaining referral business is all about building trust.  As we know building trust takes some time, it doesn’t happen overnight.  The thing about building trust however, is that it can be lost in an instant. And it could be due to things that you aren’t aware of.

As the world is changing and more people are jumping onto social networking sites like Facebook, which boasts almost 12 million Australians, it’s increasingly important for business owners to ensure that their online profiles are reflecting the same business image as their offline networking is.

Facebook provides all the settings and options to ensure only the information you want seen by the world is seen, but sadly many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of what they need to do.  Below I’ve outlined the five key areas of your Facebook Personal Profile which you need to be aware of to protect your business image online.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, but I’m not friends with anyone on Facebook who I do business with. While this might be the case it doesn’t matter as most Facebook profiles are searchable and rank in a Google search.  Jump over to Google and put your name in, you may be surprised by what you find.  Therefore make sure that your Facebook Personal Profile isn’t losing you business and referrals.

1. Profile Image

Located at the top of your profile, it’s set by Facebook as public, however you can change this.  When someone lands on your account, your profile image is the first impression of you.  How does this image reflect on your ability to do your job?  A few years back, my mum was sent a letter from our bank introducing our new Business Banker.  After a quick Google search, his Facebook Personal Profile was found and let’s just say that his profile image didn’t instill any trust in his ability to handle our finances.  Business lost instantly!  Make sure your profile image reflects the impression you want to project for your business.

2. Cover Image

By default your cover image (which is the large image across the top of your profile) is set to public and this can’t be changed.  Everyone who lands on your profile will see this image – it’s huge – they can’t miss it!  Due to it’s size, the impression it provides is larger than your profile image.  Have you ever snooped through a potential suppliers, employee or referrals partners Facebook profile before giving them the the go ahead?  A client of mine was just about to send a letter of offer to a new employee, before she jumped on to Facebook to find a cover image she described as ‘soft porn’.  She just couldn’t run the risk of her clients seeing this image.  Can you?  Save your ‘soft porn’ image for other albums on Facebook (or better still leave them off) and make sure your cover image sends the right message.

3. About You Section

When people want to find out more about you they often refer to your about section.  This is where you can complete a paragraph or two allowing you to connect with the people who find your profile.  Most people just leave this blank but if you are in business you can’t!  It’s best to approach this section in two minds; firstly as a business owner and secondly just as you.  As a business owner you want to entice people to want to find out more about you and direct them to either your Facebook page and your website.  And about you, just provide some insights into your life, as this helps people build rapport and find common grounding.  Make sure you set this section to public in your privacy settings (as discussed later).

4. Linking Your Facebook Page In Work Section

On the About Tab on Facebook you can list your current and previous work and education.  Many people miss the mark with this by leaving it blank, but you are missing out on an area which has proven to increase your Facebook Fans.  In the work section simply type in the exactly name of your Facebook Page.  Most of the time Facebook will automatically link this through and you know it works because you can see your Facebook Page Profile image.  If you happen to have a suitcase, it didn’t work!  You can watch this quick video.  with more instructions on how to set it up correctly.  Again, in your privacy settings, set this area to public.

5. Privacy Settings

Facebook provides an in depth area where you can change and control your own privacy settings.  As business owners and Facebook users it’s important that you understand this area and check it regularly.  It’s your responsibility to make sure your privacy is protected.  Your privacy can be controlled by two main areas on Facebook.  From the top right corner, select the clog and then privacy settings from the drop down menu.  Have a look through all the settings, read them and make any changes.  Then you need to check individual areas on your profile.  As you edit sections, such as your About Tab, there will be privacy controls in the top right corner.  Also remember to check your photos and albums as many people have these unprotected.

If you are online, you must protect your online presence and your Facebook Personal Profile is just one area.  Don’t lose business because you didn’t spend 15 minutes getting this right.  Protect your profile and protect your business and referrals.

nataliealaimosocialmediatrainingNatalie Alaimo is the National Social Media Director for BNI Australia.  She also runs social media training business, Natalie Alaimo International, teaching entrepreneurs how to leverage the power of social media to generate an avalanche of clients.  Visit her online and join the free 30 day Facebook Challenge.

 

 

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TRUTH

Again, in this case, it’s possible to attend too many networking groups, and it’s possible to attend too few.  The key is to attend a number of different types of groups, and not so many that you have to neglect any of them.  Each type is useful in a different way.

If you want something more definitive, we would say that three is the magic number. It can be more or less than three, depending on your abilities and needs, but there is a pretty good target for an effective referral network.  You can select from a menu of seven different types.

Strong Contact Networks (referral networking groups such as BNI) are structured explicitly to pass business referrals among members; they allow only one member per profession.  Strong-contact networks are particularly good for developing in-depth relationships because you see the same members week after week and pass referrals as part of each meeting.

Casual Contact Networks (chambers of commerce, for example) bring business people together in a less structured context than strong contact networks, but for many they are a primary source of referrals; membership is not limited by profession.  These groups are good for developing breadth in your network, but deep, long lasting relationships can be formed as well.

Service Organisations (Rotary, Lions etc) are associations that exist to provide and support humanitarian efforts and good works in the community and larger venues.  They also bring people together in settings that facilitate referrals and knowledge networking.  Like casual contact groups, they help you add breadth and diversity to your network.

Professional Associations or knowledge networks are established to exchange information and ideas among those in a given industry, as well as to promote and support that industry.  These networks often include direct competitors, but they also provide contacts in related but non-competing businesses as well.

Social/Business Organisations such as Jaycees (insert link) or business singles clubs, combine social activities with business networking and can provide a variety of networking opportunities; unfortunately, many tend to resemble singles bars.

Women’s Networking Groups are still important networking organisations but are slowly disappearing as women enter the business mainstream, especially as professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. In mixed strong contact groups such as BNI, about 40% or more of the members are women.

Online Networks  are a new phenomenon covering a wide range of interests. Many such as www.ecademy.com, offer business-networking opportunities.  Just as with more traditional networking groups, you need to develop relationships of trust with online networks as well.  Other ways to network online include starting your own blog and emailing your company newsletters.

Not only do we recommend being active in three groups, but we would also suggest that they be three different types of groups.  For referral networking, we would suggest that a strong contact network is particularly important, along with two other groups of different types. If you go to weekly meetings of three groups, you will be spending somewhere between five and six hours per week in meetings, not counting contacts you make outside the meetings in order to follow up on referrals and attend to other group-oriented activities.  That’s a pretty good investment of time, and if you make full use of your networking groups and develop a fair number of relationships, you will probably have as much business as you can handle.

Taken from Truth or Delusion? Page 97 – 99  Online Networks would now be considered LinkedIn.

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Jun
06

Do You Feel Nervous?

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doyoufeelnervousDo you feel nervous, even anxious at the thought of attending yet another networking function?  Some people relish the opportunity to meet and greet a bunch of prospects that they have never met before, while others, pale at the thought.

Having a strategy about what to do when you go networking is essential.  If you follow this three step process it will surely help.

1. Meeting People for the First Time 

The first thing to do is be brave, say hello and greet people warmly.  Hold out your hand and be prepared to give a good handshake, not too firm, not too limp.  Most importantly…Smile!!  No need to rush this part, take your time and repeat the person’s name, so that you remember it.

Next move is to start a conversation.  The easy bit is the “What do you do question?”, it’s what comes next that a lot of people struggle with.

Here’s some suggestions on where to go next.  Ask:

  • Tell me about you’re your latest project
  • What is the best part about working in that field?
  • How did you come to work in that industry?
  • How did that idea emerge?

Once you have the conversation rolling, remember to use the other person’s name.  Hearing your name is music to your ears, make sure you use theirs and get it right!

Think about the audience who will be attending the function and prepare some questions beforehand, so that you aren’t stuck on the day for something to ask or say.

2. Keep That Conversation Rolling

The best thing you can do to keep a conversation rolling is to be a good listener.  Listen with your ears and your eyes, maintain eyes contact, show the other person that you are hanging on their every word.  The worst thing you can do whilst someone else is speaking is to be scanning the room to see who else is about that you may want to talk to.

It’s Ok to ask clarifying questions and  in fact the more questions you ask (within reason) the easier the conversation will flow between you and your new best friend.  Remember though not to dominate the conversation and don’t make your questioning appear like the Spanish Inquisition!

Remember to avoid controversial topics and above all respect other people’s opinions.  Personally I will never discuss sex, religion or politics in a public forum, it’s too dangerous and can lead to polarising opinion and souring of relationships.

3. Finishing the Conversation

Be careful to move about at a networking function, never stay talking with one person or group for more than 10 minutes.  Have a prepared conversation completer and then move on.  You could say

  • Lovely to talk with you, I think I will go and freshen up my coffee
  • Lovely to talk with you, I see someone I must speak to, please excuse me
  • Lovely to spend time with you, this is a networking function, I think I will go and do some more networking

Make the most of your networking opportunities.  Avoid hiding in the corner or propping yourself up against the bar or food table.  Move around, be brave and use the three step process.

© Lindsay Adams 2013.  All rights reserved.

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at www.referralinstitute.com.au or email Lindsay directly at Lindsay.adams@referralinstitute.com.au 

Categories : Education
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A lot of networking isn’t in making new contacts but following them up and developing the relationship.

Are you getting results from the time you spend networking? Wish your networking brought you more business, more referrals?

No doubt about it. Networking is the most effective way to generate new business. But unless it’s done properly it can be a waste of time and even counterproductive.  In this article we will cover the final 5 real-world tips to help you turn your networking efforts into bottom-line results.

1. When someone introduces themselves to you, repeat their name immediately. This will help you to remember names easily. Continue to use first names as often as realistically possible. not only when you’re speaking with people in person, but also when communicating with them via email or on social media sites. No doubt about it. Using people’s names helps you build rapport them.

2. Those who drive sales/business growth frequently want to know how to close the deal faster and more often. They often overlook the reality that “prospects/buyers” need to close themselves on the “seller” first before they will buy from you. That means, before YOU can close the deal, your prospect first needs to be sold on the following steps:

  • Do I like you ?
  • Do I trust you?
  • Do I believe that you/your product can do the job for me?
  • Do I believe you understand my business/situation/issues/concerns?
  • Do I have a need for your product/service/expertise?
  • Do I want your product/service/expertise?

handshake3. Don’t lose contact with people who are important to you. Send an e-mail or a text saying something like, “Wondering how you are travelling”….”I was thinking about you today and wondering how you are”….”where does the time go?”…. “It’s been too long since we last caught up for a chat”. “Love to catch up. Are you up for a cup of coffee anytime soon?”…. “I just wanted to touch base to see if you’d like to catch up for a cup of coffee and swap updates on what we’re both doing. Let me know if you’re keen.”…. “We haven’t talked in a while?….I thought it was about time I gave you a call…..It’s been a while between drinks. Just wondering how you’re doing/what you’ve been up to since we last talked? I’d love to/Be good to hear from you when you have the time.”…. “Just a quick update. I/We had a win today (briefly explain). Any good news at your end?”…. “Just rang to see how things are going for you”…. “Just saw your name in my contacts folder and thought to myself it was high time I touched base to say hello. It’s been too long between drinks (person’s name). How’s life treating you? Keeping well, I hope. How about we catch up for a coffee/beer sometime to swap updates on what’s going on in our worlds? Let’s know if you’re keen.”……..”How are you? I feel terrible that I have left it so long. Fancy catching up next week?”…….”This is just a catch-up call. I hope you’re well and busy plenty of business/work coming in for you. If you feel like a chat/If you’d like to have a chat, give me a call”…..”It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other and I thought it would be good to catch up for a coffee and chat. Are you free on (date) at say, (time) in (suburb)? If not, please suggest a couple of alternative times and I’ll try to be as flexible as possible.”  

Allocate time for this important activity. Make it part of your regular routine.  

Now here’s a task for you. Go through your contact list and find 4 people you haven’t been in touch with for a while and send them an email or text inviting them for lunch or coffee. Think of something to say that personalises your message and use the same or similar language above to tee-up a 121 in-person meeting. Commit to sending messages like this to your key contacts on a regular basis. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Don’t hand out/collect hundreds of business cards. We have all been at events and meetings where someone rushes up and thrusts a card at you. They barely caught your name or introduced themselves when they start waving a card. Whatever you do, avoid this kind of behaviour. Collecting masses of cards from people you can barely remember is not effective/productive use of your time. Take the time to connect with each person you meet. Ask genuine questions about them and their background. Spend 20 minutes or more with someone you really enjoy and, in the end, a true connection will be established. Suggest there and then that the two of you meet for coffee or breakfast to learn more about each other. After that meeting send an email saying that you enjoyed catching up with them and invite them to meet again to establish a pathway for building a relationship. Remember it’s quality, not quantity that makes your networking work for you.

5. Don’t call someone after you just met them to ask for a favour. Successful networking is about helping others first. It’s about relating and working with others that you share a mutual interest. Don’t squander the connection. Rather, foster it by inviting him or her for coffee, lunch or a drink after work and get better acquainted. Find some way to connect on a personal level. Don’t sell. Or at least don’t sell hard. Pay the bill, thank the person for coming and stay in touch. Build the relationship and let it develop over time. (What’s the best way to build a relationship? Help the person.) Look to do some kind of favour for your contact first before you call on them to help you. Nothing is a bigger turn-off than the person who calls you after you just met them and wants to pitch something to you. Typically, the receiver of the pitch wants to hang up or run away and usually stops returning messages.

Looking for more networking tips? Read part one here

Happy networking. Maybe we will see each other at a networking event some day.

Referred to as “That Networking Guy” by many organizations, Ron Gibson provides in-depth networking training and coaching, focusing on business growth and development. Get Ron to speak at your next conference or sales meeting about how to bring in more business, more consistently and more often.  Ron can be reached on mobile 0413 420 538 and email gonetworking@iinet.net.au

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Mar
21

Profit through Coopetition

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When the internet made its first inroads into the business psyche in the mid 1990’s, I was Director of a boutique advertising and graphic design company focussing on publishing magazines and other paper based media. It was apparent that the internet was not a passing fad and as such we decided to focus our business growth towards online publishing by offering our clients domain name registration and web hosting services. These two services quickly became our core business. Due to client demand we also offered several complementary services including graphic design, web design and development services, including e-commerce programming, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services.

In early 1996 I was invited to deliver a keynote speech at my local chamber of commerce on how business could harness the power of the internet and email to reduce costs and find new customers. During open networking at the end of event I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as the Director of a company I knew as one of our main local competitors. After chatting for half an hour it was apparent that whilst they offered all the same services as us, they specialised in e-commerce programming but due to client demand they also offered domain registration and web hosting as complementary services to their clients.

She promptly invited me along to her BNI chapter which also had members in the fields of graphic design, web design and development, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services. After being accepted as a member I quickly started to build relationships with all the members of my new “IT power team”. By focussing on our specialism we were now receiving domain registration and web hosting referrals from 5 new referral partners and in return we were happy to refer business to them in each of their specialist fields. We all obtained increased levels of business as a result and by working together to fulfil our clients requirements we reduced our overheads and increased our profits.

What I had engaged in was something called coopetition the basic principals of which received much attention in 1944 with the publication of the book “Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour” by John Forbes Nash. Coopetition occurs when several companies in the same market pool their resources and cooperate with each other to create a higher value than could be achieved if they acted alone. The result can often be higher quality products and services, reduced development costs and a shorter time to market than could be achieved if the companies involved had acted individually.

Occasionally, I get the opportunity to visit networking events where some members holding key categories run “full service” companies. Normally, these chapters are of average or below average size (between 15 and 25 members) and the reason they find it difficult to grow is because these key members do not have an abundance mentality and are not open to the philosophy of coopetition. As a direct result all members of the group are denied the opportunity to network as part of a larger group, and given that a members earnings increase exponentially as a direct result of the number of members and relationships in the room (Metcalf’s law), the earning potential of all members suffers as a result.

I recently visited a chapter in Brisbane that currently has 44 members and growing. Over the last 18 months they have embraced the coopetition philosophy and the result is annual closed business in excess of $4 million. As the members delivered their sales manager minutes I noted that they had four finance brokers (residential mortgage, commercial mortgage, vehicle finance and equipment finance), two interior designers (commercial and residential) and two photographers (video and wedding). Even though these companies could deliver similar services they had decided to cooperate for the greater good, they had embraced the abundance mentality and were happily developing highly profitable relationships not only with each other but also with other members of the chapter.

In BNI today, the objective is to develop New Generation Chapters, those that create $1 million in closed business in their first year. This can only be achieved if all members have the abundance mentality and are committed to coopetition.

paul_portraitThis article was provided by Paul Lomas who is the executive Director of BNI ACT & NSW Tablelands, BNI Brisbane CBD and BNI Brisbane South. Paul joined BNI in 1996 and believes in the power of teamwork, listening and accepting responsibility.

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