Archive for Networking

In this short video Hazel Walker outlines the 7 steps to developing your own 6 figure business referral system. This topic is covered in detail in the Referral Institute’s Certified Networker program. Powerful return on your investment guaranteed.

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rongibsonarticleNetworking. There are some people who actually get it. Other people seem to gravitate to them with a regular stream of opportunities for them and their business. They don’t engage in the face-to-face equivalent of cold calling. They spend a good chunk of their time building relationships ― fostering existing ones and establishing appropriate new ones ― knowing that genuine and sustainable success comes from their personal connections. They are active as participants, leaders and advocates of their networking and community groups.

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 5 real-world tips to help you turn your networking efforts into bottom-line results.  Watch out for the next five coming next month;

1. Make the most of your networking memberships. Become a prominent and visible member. Turn up to most, if not all, of the association’s/organisation’s/group’s major events. Get on a committee or board. Join a “special project” team. Do something to contribute to the success of the association. Offer ideas. Assist with the meet and greet at events. You will be seen as a person who is willing to commit time and energy and people will take notice. You will also open up opportunities to create exposure for your business. Build friendships with “influencers”— the president, past presidents, board/committee members and others who are just very active in the association. Sit down with these people one-on-one and find out what their challenges, issues, goals and priorities are, ask how you can help them with their duties, then serve them. And serve them well because they can make or break you. As you develop your relationships with these “influencers” and other members, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your business and if your product or service is good these people will refer you, recommend you and open doors for you. Some will also become your clients.

Visibility (attending and getting involved) = Trust = Doors Open For You

The more you show up…the more people get to know you and remember you. That makes it easier for people to refer you out to their networks.

2. Follow your interests. Don’t join or get involved in groups just to get something from them. Join the group because you are truly interested in what they do and, more importantly, because you want to help them be successful. This is how trust and collaboration are developed. Remember, when it comes to networking groups, you get out what you put in.   On a similar note, charities are also great networking opportunities, but it is important to get involved with ones that you feel strongly about.

3. Friendship trumps acquaintances. Business contacts are only as valuable as the depth of connection that you’ve made. It’s one thing to “know of somebody” and quite another thing to actually KNOW them. This doesn’t mean that you have to be “best friends for life” with every contact but it does mean being more than just another name on a LinkedIn list.

4. Build deeper relationships. It’s far better to join one or two organisations where you really become active and involved than join multiple organisations where you only attend a meeting or event once a year. Getting involved is the best way to build long term  relationships with people. And it’s through these relationships that business (and personal) opportunities will emerge over time.

5. To say you’re “too busy to network” is suicidal. If you don’t network you will eventually be “not busy”. If you want to avoid this situation, having no business coming in, you’ve got to make time to network. That means when you are busy/busiest you will still have time to meet new people and stay in touch with the people you know. You can’t afford to let up your efforts to bring in new business because you always need new work to replace the work you finish.

Happy networking. Stay tune for next months article with another 5 real world networking tips.  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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Networking

Why is it that you meet some people at a networking function and seem to get along like you are old friends?

Why is it that you meet some other people who you can’t seem to find anything in common with and struggle to make conversation?

Research by the Referral Institute has shown that people tend to get along with people who are just like them.  If this is the case surely if we could identify people just like us, we would find it easier to do business with them.  If this is true, then another problem arises.  What do we do about the people we want to do business with who aren’t like us?

The good news is, that it is possible to do business with anyone, provided we make allowances for their particular behavioural style.  Not only that if we adapt our style to be a little more like those people who are different to us, we have a far greater chance of doing business with them.

As human beings we all have different behavioural styles and how we handle ourselves at networking functions depends on one of four different styles.

The four styles are:

  • Go Getter
  • Promoter
  • Nurturer
  • Examiner

Lets look at each in detail to understand how to get along better with people just like us, or people who are nothing like us.

Go Getters

Go Getters are hustling, enterprising people who make things happen.  They go to a networking function with a clear purpose or goal.  Go Getters are often described as achievers, self-starters, doers, high fliers, or live wires.  They tend to be on the move, making quick decisions about the people they are talking to, typically act confidently and successfully, and approach a networking function as a chance to gain business!

Promoters

Promoters are typically an active supporter, someone who urges the adoption of, or attempts to sell or popularise someone or something.   They are often referred to as being an advocate, supporter or influencer.  Promoters tend to use their voice and influence others with what they have to say.  They can be very smiley and positive people, and approach a networking function as a more social event – a way to catch up with friends and meet new people. However, business is not necessarily the key reason for attending!

Nurturers

Nurturers are people who give tender care and protection to a person or thing especially to help it grow or develop.  They like to encourage, and foster the growth of relationships.  Nurturers tend to want to make other people feel comfortable.  They are concerned with other people’s feelings, are very approachable, and do not feel like they have to be the center of attention. They are interested in seeing people that they have relationships with and deepening that relationship, along with meeting a few new people who are down to earth, nice, and not too aggressive.

Examiners

Examiners like to inspect or analyse a person, place or thing in detail, to test the knowledge or skills by asking questions.  They can be described as an auditor, inspector, surveyor or assessor.  Examiners tend to be more reserved and systems oriented.  They are typically not extremely social people and would rather be working versus socialising with a large group of people they may not know. Their whole goal for a networking function is to complete the task of attending, meet 1-3 new people who may have been pre-selected, conduct any other tasks necessary, and then leave normally before the event is over so they may get back to work.

Identifying The Four Networking Styles

Now that you understand the four basic styles you can adapt your behaviour to relate to those who are different to you.  Of course if you want more information, your local Referral Institute trainer will be happy to help.

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 

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In business, personal connections are everything. People prefer to do business with those they have previously met or who have been recommended to them by people they know. This is strong incentive for business people and professionals of every kind to build up their personal networks.

Having connections makes growing a business so much easier.

To say you don’t have the time to get out there and meet people because you’re busy with work today, means that when you’re not busy tomorrow and you’re looking for business to keep the revenues flowing, you’ll have hard time of making it happen. Why? Because you won’t know enough people to contact and offer your products or services or ask for that introduction to the “buyer” you want to get in front of.

One of the best ways to meet people who can help you grow your business is by attending networking events. These might be “after-hours” meetings hosted by your local chamber of commerce, luncheon organised by industry groups, business breakfasts and the myriad social functions associated with conferences, seminars, trade shows and so on.

Networking at events can open a lot of doors for both yourself and your business.

The good thing about a networking event is the informal and relaxed setting you’re in – it’s an atmosphere where people who might be interested in your business are more comfortable to talk with you because both of you are outside the “buyer/seller” context. When you cold call potential ”buyers” and potential “referral sources” they generally have their defences up because they feel like they are being sold to. What’s more, at a networking event, hard to get to decision makers are free from their gatekeepers who screen their calls and e-mails.

The value of networking events cannot be denied or overlooked as a critical way to meet people who can take your business to the next level.

Attending networking events is one thing. But making the most of them is quite another and requires the ability to connect with others and engage them in a way that makes them interested in conversing with you. The questions that you ask, the ideas you bring to the table and your people skills combined with your networking strategy and your willingness to give of yourself first (before you ask for anything) are the fundamentals of what it takes to make solid connections for business.

Networking, done rightly, can generate the lion’s share of your business.

In this article you will gain an insight to my philosophy of networking and get practical, real-world how-to advice on how to make the most of networking events, conferences and other face-to-face opportunities.

Advertising, brochures, websites and on-line networking via LinkedIn and Twitter all have a potential role in the growth of your business, but nothing can consistently connect you with prospects and land you new business like face-to-face networking can.

Where to go? The best events for networking are the ones your ideal clients/customers and referral sources go to. (There’s an old and true saying in sales and it goes something like this: when you’re hunting elephants, find out where they gather and go there.) Most people in business belong to an industry or trade association. Simply ask your clients and referrers what meetings they go to and ask if you can tag along with them. At the meeting, have your client/referrer introduce you to people they know. And if anyone asks what you are doing there, tell them you want to learn more about the industry and to meet people and get to know them.

You are 100% missing out on good business if you aren’t going  to networking events. But you need to choose the “right” events.

If you’re at the right event, you’re bound to see someone you must speak to.

The sheer number of networking events happening in any given month can be overwhelming, so choose the type of events most suited to you. If you’re not a morning person, breakfast meetings may not be your thing. If you don’t like mixing and mingling at after-hours drinks gatherings, find another kind of event. It’s more productive, not to mention, more enjoyable to find organisations with activities you enjoy at a time of the day that works for you. Keep in mind that all networking does not have to be work-related. Beyond meetings and functions organised by your local chamber of commerce and business/industry association and networking/referral groups like BNI and Rainmakers, you can make valuable connections with like-minded people by joining a civic organisation like Rotary, by getting involved with a charity or community group, by joining a sporting or leisure club, by starting your own networking group or by taking a course or class of some kind.

Getting out to networking events will do more to build your business than making cold calls, advertising and spending money on a website or well-designed brochure.

Which networking events do you regularly attend? Remember finding the right networking events for you is critical to your networking success.

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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You need to get out there and meet people to generate business….

In business, personal connections are everything. People prefer to do business with those they have previously met or who have been recommended to them by people they know. This is strong incentive for business people and professionals of every kind to build up their personal networks.

The most successful people in business are invariably the best connected.

Attending networking events is one thing. But making the most of them is quite another.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of your networking time.

Have an objective when you go to a networking event. That way, you will feel more purposeful and find your actions more directed instead of wandering around the room aimlessly. It could be that you’d like to meet a certain individual whom you know will be attending. Maybe you choose to find two potential referral sources for your business or for a friend’s business. Perhaps you’d like to meet the speaker or re-connect with a certain someone you met at last month’s meeting and who you’d like to get to know better. If you cannot come up with a specific goal for the event, introduce yourself three or four people and learn about their businesses and then make them aware of yours, which is an excellent goal for almost any networking occasion. Don’t leave until you achieve your goal/s.

Look Sharp. Look professional. Before you get there, take a good look at yourself. Ensure your presentation reflects your desired image. That includes how you hold your drink and cutlery.

It’s about quality contacts versus quantity. When I go to a networking event, my aim is to make two to four meaningful contacts and invite them to meet me for coffee. It’s incredible what can happen over a cup of coffee. A good conversation in a relaxed setting often leads to good business and referrals for me.

Often, people are tempted to distribute and collect as many business cards as possible during a business event. You will get better results by setting a goal of making between two and five new contacts at each networking event you attend. By limiting the number of contacts, you are able to focus on quality connections, deeper conversations and building rapport and trust with each person.

It’s up to you to connect. So be proactive. Don’t just stand around waiting for others to approach you. Even if you are reserved by nature, now is the time to break out of your comfort zone. Everyone else in the room is there for the same reason as you and that is to meet others. So take comfort in knowing that nobody is going to snub you, if only because you might somehow be of value to them. Initiate conversations with a simple “Hello, I’m Ron Gibson. And you are?” Now you’ve got the person’s name and you’ve just started a conversation. In future articles, I’ll share some great questions you can ask to move your networking conversations along further.

Don’t make a beeline for your seat. Often, you’ll see people at networking events sitting alone at the dinner table staring into space―20 minutes before the meal is due to start. Similarly, you’ll see people sitting by themselves waiting for a seminar/ workshop to get under way. Why are they sitting alone? Take full advantage of the valuable networking time before you have to sit down. Once the event starts, you won’t be able to mingle.

Be genuine. Business networking is about being the authentic, real you. Putting on a fake persona or mask and trying to be someone you’re not will do you no good. No one likes a phoney. No matter how great you are and how great your product or service is, it won’t matter one bit if others feel you have something to hide. Always be authentically you, represent your business honestly and build genuine relationships with your network contacts. The financial rewards will definitely flow.

Remember these guidelines when you venture out of your office into the world of networking functions and events. Make the most of the time you spend while you’re there.

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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In this tight market, how can we get an edge over our competitors?

Let’s look beyond your immediate BNI chapter or other networking group. When we are used to receiving steady referrals from our regular networking colleagues, we can often become complacent with our actual client base.

And this complacency often results in lost potential business.

How to Open Up A Tight Market 

In any market, the first step is getting the client, the second step being paid for the completed work, and the third step getting repeat business. First time work is relatively easy during good times, but – combined with receiving repeat business – becomes crucial in a tight market to maintain your business growth.

So let’s look at a strategy to gain new business and keep it!

3 Keys To Cracking A Tight Market

Your approach does not have to be complicated, fancy or time-consuming – consistently combing solid customer service and marketing basics with some new technological aids will get you there.

PICK UP THE PHONE!

You would be surprised how many of my clients, when I ask the question “what work do you have in the pipeline?”, respond that they have emailed out five, 10 or more proposals in the last few weeks/months – and are “just waiting to hear back from their prospects”. Hear back from them! Whatever happened to picking up the phone and talking to your prospects?

Too many business owners today are using email as their only sales tool, rather than maintaining that personal touch and building their networks. It is not enough to just send a quote or a proposal – you MUST follow up.

Give your prospect an opportunity to ask questions, clarify their queries, say yes or no, or give you a firm idea of when a decision will be made. You must be as pro-active as your competitors.

When you pick up the phone, ideally it’s so you get the work confirmed. Though even if you don’t confirm work, you want to leave the potential prospect with a positive opinion of your professionalism. The successful supplier this time might not meet their expectations and your name will be top of mind for next time. And if you really want to stand out, send them a hand-written note. Saying something like  “Hi Kate, sorry to hear we were not successful as the supplier for your XYZ project. Should you need anything that your selected supplier cannot help with, please do not hesitate to call me. Either way, I trust your event will be a great success.” Of course, include a business card with your note.  Trust me, you will be remembered.

STAY CONNECTED

I recently had a conversation with someone who had networked his services for one organisation through to multiple companies, purely by keeping in touch with a handful of key players and spheres of influence. At one stage, all these key players worked together, then there was a takeover/merger and they had gone their separate ways over time. He had stayed connected with each key player, and eventually he was approached to take his services to four different companies – all because he made the effort to keep in touch.

He also made the comment that during a twelve-month period, there were times when he left phone messages, or sent emails and did not get a response. “That’s life,” he said, “some of the group adapted to the merger better than others. A couple of them took time to find a new role of equivalent status. There were a few times I heard about work in the marketplace and I would text them saying, did you know they were looking for a new supplier at XYZ company?”

It doesn’t take much to be remembered positively. In this volatile market, there is a lot of movement in, and some great staff have been and will be made redundant. Sometimes your peers feel embarrassed to ask for help. Why not – tactfully – keep your ear to the ground and offer help to others who you know may have recently lost their job.  Even if it’s a tele-coffee – a pre-arranged phone appointment taking 5-10 minutes – where you ask or offer help, shoot the breeze or bounce ideas around. It takes very little to be remembered positively these days.

CONVERT YOUR LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS 

In the olden days, we used to call it working your database, making regular contact with people in our networks. Today, LinkedIn makes this so much easier (if you have not as yet joined the LinkedIn fan club, please visit my website www.networkingtowin.com.au for a complimentary e-copy of “Why I Love LinkedIn, And How I Went From Zero To 2500+ In 12 Months”). When people connect with you, they begin to follow you and, as long as you a regular LinkedIn user, you will show up on their LinkedIn radar.

However, connecting with someone via LinkedIn and sending a few messages is sometime not enough to firm up business quickly.  I use a couple of different strategies with my LinkedIn prospects:

  1. I pick up the phone – regardless of where they live and the potential cost of the call. I talk to them. Again, I am not trying to “sell me” – purely giving them an opportunity to ask me any questions they may have, attempt to get to know them better, and build trust ear to ear.
  2. Face to face, of course, is the number one way to get to “yes”. Sometimes you may even find that there is an opportunity to connect with a potential LinkedIn prospect at a networking event. It may not be a network you have been to before. However, as long as you are clear about 1. the why you are going, 2. what you want to achieve, and 3. how you are going to do it, you are bound to get results. Does that mean you walk away with business that day? Maybe, maybe not. What you will have done though is move the person from stranger to acquaintance to colleague – before you ultimately move to customer (who buys once), client (who has used your services two or more  times) and advocates (those who do your selling for you).
  3. On their LinkedIn profile and website, you should be able to tell if Skype is one of your connection’s preferred methods of staying in touch. Why not arrange a Skype meeting? Again, you are putting a face to the name and the messages, and progress the relationship.

Networking with a System is Still King

Today, I believe, we have to be realistic, flexible and practical when it comes to growing our business and careers. Networking is still one of the best ways to open doors nationally and internationally for you.

You must ensure, though, that once you make the connection – be it face to face or electronically – you have systems in place that enable you to maximise the connections, build on those contacts, and ultimately convert the connections to real business.

Avoid complacency with your BNI or other networking chapter – don’t take referrals for granted. One day they may stop otherwise. One thing I know for sure: the more referrals you give, the more referrals you will ultimately receive.

Happy networking – until next time.

Article written by the “Australian Queen of Networking” Robyn Henderson

Global networking specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking, self promotion and self esteem building. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 150 times per year and has never advertised. All her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website www.networkingtowin.com.au

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There are many reasons why people join networking groups.  The most obvious is that the strong relationships we create in these groups lead to more business through referrals.

Recently, I had a chance to review the data and findings by an independent organisation that conducted a comprehensive survey of several networking groups to determine the value of a member’s “seat” in his or her networking group.

And the results were impressive!

BNI-Style Networking: ROI Examined

The independently surveyed networking groups are of the BNI-type: members attend on a regular (weekly) basis, and there is only one member per business category allowed in each group. 83% of all members in the region participated in the project, and the average group size is 25+ members.

Quantify, Evaluate, Measure: The Networking Survey Objectives

The following were some of the objectives of this independent survey:

  • To quantify the financial value of referrals received by members, both in the last 12 months and since being a member;
  • To evaluate referrals received, including what percentage are internal referrals, and which percentage have been converted into closed business;
  • To update the extent of value-added indirect referrals through repeat business and referrals to other clients by the initially referred clients.

Value of Referral Networks – The Stunning Results

The results of the survey were far better than expected – especially considering the state of the economy.  Below is a summary of some of the findings from the survey (NOTE from BNI Australia: survey currency was USD, currently roughly at par with the AUD).

  • The average amount of business gained from business referrals in the last 12 months was or $37,055.
  • When asked about further orders they had received as the “spin-off” (new referral business that stemmed from the original referral) effect of referrals, the surveyed business networking members were able to identify, on average, an additional $17,668 per year of membership.
  • Combining closed business in the last 12 months with the average value of 2nd/ 3rd generation referrals in a year gives a true value of a membership in a networking group of this type of $54,723 per year. 
  • On average, members who were involved in their networking group for 7 years generated $383,038 since they joined it, thereby underpinning the lifetime value of the membership in a referral network.

Value to the total membership in the regions surveyed equalled $25 million per year—and we are still recovering from a recession!

The Longer You Remain (Actively Involved) In A Networking Group, The Larger Your ROI

The findings of the survey did also illustrate an important point: It took time within the first couple years to build relationships, with a return of $54,720.  However, when members moved into years 3-7 of their memberships, the figures jumped to a yearly return of $312,700!  Even more dramatically, the survey discovered that there were six new millionaires created out of the members surveyed—just from referrals from their fellow members!

Can You Benefit from Training on “How To” Network?

As someone who has studied business networking both academically and anecdotally since the early 80’s, I always knew that training helped members get more business. Still, I was pleased to see that this survey corroborated this fact.

Those members who attended any and all training sessions offered on the “art” of networking saw their businesses increase by 58%, compared to those who did not attend or who attended only one session.  This backs up the fact that taking advantage of any offered training support by a networking group is the cornerstone to members’ returns on their time and investment.

The ROI for members who stay actively involved with their
particular networking group for several years is many
times more than the annual cost of participation.  

In the survey results, it was very easy to see a linear correlation between the amount of time dedicated by the member to a networking group and the average and substantial return on investment that the member receives as he or she stays longer.

BNI Australia – So, How Do We Shape Up?

The financial year 2011/2012 saw another record closed business achievement for the approximately 5,000 Australian BNI Members, who closed $219 million worth of business between them and through outside referrals.  That is an exceptional $45,000 of membership ROI per member!

Well done, Australia, who out-networked those surveyed groups!

Clearly, the ROI based on this survey and BNI Australia’s latest data is incredible – what entrepreneur would take a pass on those numbers? This is why I’m surprised that there are still so many out there who have not yet begun to make business networking a vital element in their overall marketing and sales plans. What are they waiting for?

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book can be viewed at www.BusinessNetworkingandSex.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.

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BNI chapters come in all shapes and sizes and over the last fifteen years during my visits to BNI chapters or speaking at BNI big breakfasts, there are three skills that I have observed all the successful BNI members have.

Let’s call this active BNI member Jack, a busy electrician who does both residential and commercial work. His business and life partner Jane also belongs to another BNI chapter and they credit more than 70% of their business growth to belonging to BNI. As their business has grown, they have also encouraged their staff to attend BNI meetings in their absence. BNI is a big part of the culture of Jack and Jane’s business.

Act Like The Host Not The Guest

Whenever I have met Jack or Jane outside of their chapter meetings, they always engage people as if they were the hosts not the guests. This makes first timers and strangers at other networks feel very welcome and best of all they remember Jack and Jane positively. They don’t always attend the same external events, but they are very busy socially and are basically friendly people.

TIP: The next time you see someone who looks a bit lost or confused; offer your assistance – that’s what hosts do.

Network Outside Of BNI at Least Once a Month

The BNI chapters that consistently attract new members and build solid memberships have members who attend additional networking events every month. These events might range from a golf day or a chamber of commerce event through to a conference. The main reason they do this is to expand their business. The secondary reason is that they meet lots of new business people. And during their conversation with these strangers, they mention BNI and invite that stranger along to a meeting.

TIP: Look around your chapter and identify the members who regularly give multiple referrals every week. Talk to them about the networking events they attend outside of BNI and ask if you can tag along to one of these events. Yes your prime intention is to promote your business AND you can also invite strangers you meet to come along to a BNI chapter meeting. Remember you probably have to ask two to three people to attend BNI, to ensure that one shows up.

They Are the Face Of BNI

Jack and Jane understand that they as individuals are the face of BNI. They are not directors; they are active members, who are committed to BNI as well as their business growth. When they meet people socially or at business events, who have never heard of BNI, they make sure they follow up with them after the event. Even if the stranger is a financial adviser or real estate agent (both popular categories at BNI chapters), they still invite them along to a meeting – as they know new chapters are forming all the time. Most of all Jane and Jack know that they are growing BNI as a whole, not just their own chapter. They believe in abundance firmly knowing there is plenty of members and business for all current and future chapters.

TIP: If one of your guests attends a BNI meeting and decides NOT to join BNI for whatever reason, don’t dismiss them from your network. Over the next twelve months, they will still have a need for the products or services from many of your current members. They can tap those needs through connecting with you and accessing your BNI members. Before you know it, you will be the top referral giver at your chapter.

Givers gain is the BNI mantra and we know it works. Jack and Jane are successful BNI members because they live BNI – they build their business growth around being active members. What about you? Is it time you stepped up? What if you took on these three tips for the next ninety days, what have you got to lose?

Happy networking until next time.

 

Article written by the “Australian Queen of Networking” Robyn Henderson

Global networking specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking, self promotion and self esteem building. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 150 times per year and has never advertised. All her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website www.networkingtowin.com.au

The old saying that we “treasure what we measure”—and vice versa—turns out to be highly relevant in networking.

I created a survey of 12,000 men and women for one of my most recent books. As my co-authors and I explored the extent to which survey respondents correlated success and networking, we discovered that most of the people who credit networking for some of their success also maintain a system for measuring the dollar value of their networking activity. Conversely, most of the respondents who said networking played no role in their success had no system for tracking any money generated by their participation in networking groups.

In a world where news media frequently reports the latest sports scores, stock market numbers, and even the weekend’s top-grossing films, wouldn’t you think common sense would motivate business networkers to track how much they’re making from their efforts?

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common.

In the survey, more respondents said they did not have a system than said they did have one. More importantly, women said that they did not have a system to follow up more than men did! It is easy to see that the more systematic you learn to make your networking the more productive you are going to be.

Male or female, having a system is key to success. However, for women, this can really be a major key for them. Why is this?

Women have fewer hours to actually spend networking. They have to balance family responsibilities from getting kids off to school in the morning to getting them to their after-school activities, home for dinner, and off to bed. Add to that all the other activities that they need to take care of in a given day and there is little time for networking.

Having systems to follow up and stay in touch allows for more productive activities and results from networking activities. There is no way to create success if your success is out in “airy-fairy” land. Hard facts and data tell you what you are doing well and what you are not doing at all. Tracking is a key factor in success.

Track Everything

There are so many things that need to be tracked:

  • What organizations you belong to and what results you are getting from them?
  • How much time are you spending networking and working your network?
  • How much money have you made as a result of your activities?
  • Who is sending you referrals, and how much of your income are they responsible for?

You must have systems around all the tracking as well as systems for:

  • Following up with those people you meet
  • Staying in touch with your network members
  • Rewarding your referral sources
  • How you are going to help your referral sources

Here is the key point: If you learn to use good systems, it will allow you to get better results in much less time. This will free up more of your time for family and personal life. The work and time is upfront developing and implementing the system. On the backside, you will spend much less time going out networking and more time working in your network.

Women are social creatures and have a strong need to connect through language and sharing – or simply put, women build relationships through conversation.  Standing in a queue, socialising at a party, or attending a business-networking event: the majority of women find it easy to start a conversation and keep it rolling.

Women Share, Connect… and Create More Business

Data from a recent survey of nearly 3,000 women by the AWCCI (Australian Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry) revealed that almost 55% of women are attending business-networking events for social reasons.

There is a very simple reason why female business owners are taking the dual opportunity at business-networking events to also socialise – they have found their peers.

For many busy business women, this is a rare and welcome opportunity to share the day-to-day frustrations (and joys!) of running their own business, juggling the important work / life balance, and keeping up to date with industry changes (important to 46% of those surveyed).

Female business owners know how to utilise a networking event as an excellent chance to exchange ideas, vent frustrations, and brainstorm solutions with their equals and peers in a shared experience.  This in turn helps deepen relationships with other business women – and creates lucrative business bonds.

Connected women are strong advocates for each other’s business, not only singing the praises of their associates, but also directly referring business to each other.

Double Benefit: Do Business, Grow Personally

Women are highly adept at connecting by sharing information.

Not only are women receiving valuable business referrals from networking events because of their strong ability to form lasting, meaningful connections.  They are also able to learn critical information on how to better run their business and they are finding valued supporters for their cause.

Ladies, Nurture & Be Proud of Your Resourcefulness!

In my opinion, women are to be congratulated for taking the opportunity to socialise whilst networking.  It’s a very clever use of their time and energy.  Not only are women learning, sharing and growing their business, they are fulfilling one of nature’s most basic instincts: to connect.

As I continually move around the networking events in Sydney, I run into the same women giving the same elevator speech, but uniquely their cheer squads have changed at different events!  I believe this happens because many women have the ability to connect on varying social levels at these functions.  They thoroughly enjoy their time together as peers and are setting up a foundation for building a solid business relationship from that personal level.

BNI Member Sharon Veness of Bears In Boxes, for example, told me that connecting with business women on a social level first makes her more self-assured in her networking. She finds that once she has established a friendly rapport with another business woman it enables her to feel confident to discuss aspects of her business with the other woman.

Keeping up The Good Work

I encourage women to network, share ideas and be open about the challenges and joys they face in their businesses.  Most importantly, passionately support your fellow women in business.

Because, ladies, not only does your unique ability to network increase your referrals – it puts in place the foundations of a great, enduring business relationship that keeps on giving.

Louise Greenup is a Co-Executive Director of BNI Sydney CBD South, a  power-networker and connector.  Louise has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading forces for change in how people and businesses network effectively and profitably.  She proudly serves on the AWCCI’s Alliance Advisory Board. 

Categories : Networking
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