Monday, December 4, 2006

Unlocking all the business benefits of networking

Business networking is much more than a series of one off transactions and the benefits far wider than simply generating referrals. The traditional assumptions about exchanging business cards and having a ready made elevator pitch fall wide of the mark. For many professionals and business owners networking is central to most of their business development activity.

Research* conducted over the last 12 months indicates that experienced and successful professional business people get far more from networking than the hope of a few sales. They also don't try to sell, or over use their business pitch as a way of developing trusted business relationships.

“I was surprised to see how much care individuals take in building a relationship.” Roger Croft, PRD Partnership

One of the key findings was how business owners build trust, and what they look for in another business owner. The key factors are “do I like them?” together with ability, and reliability. They have a range of strategies that they use to check out these factors in some depth over a period of time. For instance they may well want to see you at work!

Many business owners have a good idea of their key skills. If you add in the in depth knowledge of markets that will exist in your network, you can refine your offering to make the most of your skills. Gaining this valuable market intelligence is one of the key, but overlooked benefits of networking.

The concept of “networking transactions” has arisen through the research. Ideas, information, referrals, tips, support, even just listening are all exchanges, or networking transactions between two networkers. Each exchange has a value and a risk attached to it. Depending on how trusted your relationship is depends on whether the exchange can take place.

To facilitate the process of developing successful relationships at NRG we have developed a framework that members can use as a guide. We also offer a seminar and free download both entitled ‘the 7 secrets of effective networking’. NRG member Ellis Pratt of Cherryleaf, a technical communication company, has written a self help workbook entitled ‘Network to get work’ and says “NRG has developed the seven secrets to effective business networking. It's a great model to follow, and use as a framework for networking.”

*The research was conducted by Roger Croft of the PRD Partnership and Martin Davies of NRG Business Networks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Business Networking - The rules of the game

You’ve just realised that business networking might be right for you. But before you go to networking events it pays dividends to prepare yourself. Here are 7 hints and tips to get you in the right frame of mind so that you can really get the benefits from networking!

1. Be yourself

You need commitment, belief and the right attitude. So, be smart, be prepared and be confident, but above all be yourself and let your passion shine through!

You will naturally be enthused by your product or service. Enthusiasm comes from the Greek meaning 'God within', which sums up just how powerful it can be.

2. Know what you do - and who for

Focus on the solution you provide to your target market.

The temptation to try and appeal to the widest audience you can is counter-productive. It means that no-one understands what you are looking for.

For instance a marketing consultant shows no knowledge of their subject (or what they are looking for) when they say:

“I work with small companies as their outsourced marketing manager, but I also work alongside existing marketing departments in larger companies when they need extra resource”.

The marketing consultant who says:

“I help solicitors win profitable new clients”

immediately focuses the audience on their expertise and market.

3. Communicate effectively

When you are natural you are believable. If there is any conflict between your belief and your communication it will show.

In a UCLA study Dr Mehrabian found that getting the words right is vital, but you must also look and sound credible because when assessing that we depend

  • 7% on what you say (verbal)
  • 38% on how you communicate - pitch, attitude, tone and emphasis (vocal)
  • 55% on the way you look - facial expressions and body movements (visual)

Learn to ask open questions (ie those that require the other person to say more than a yes or no), listen attentively and make links to other people that you know.

Show a genuine interest in other people, so ask questions about them!

4. Manage your reputation

Be reliable, trustworthy and do what you say you would.

Present a professional image with your business cards, badge, e-mail address, website and profiles online.

Demonstrate your competence with:


5. Commit your time

Don’t be in a hurry. Getting business through networking takes time.

Don’t be seen as someone who only networks when they need something.

6. Collect people

Look for networking opportunities where you can find people relevant to your profession i.e. other professionals. But remember the larger and more diverse your network the more help you can be to others.

7. Build relationships

People are more likely to open their contacts for you when they like, know and trust you. So, focus on relationships first and business second.

Develop a giving mentality and become an advocate for others. Remember, what goes round comes round.

Friday, September 1, 2006

How to profit from the internet

A friend of mine, Graham Jones, has some great information and advice on how to make money on the internet at his blog,
Why not take a look.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

How to promote rapport with prospects

Why should anyone pay attention to what you have to say? Just because you write a press release, an advert or create a brochure, it doesn't necessarily follow that anyone will want to read it. So how do you hook your reader? The answer is surprisingly simple!

Ask questions! Questions, by their very nature, involve people. A good rhetorical question immediately involves the reader. By asking the reader to consider a short, punchy sentence and its relevance to them, you immediately focus their interest on what you have to say.

What to do

Keep it simple. For an example of how to get it wrong, just look at the following question:

'How can you keep up with the latest development trends - games development, leveraging XYZ controls, extending existing applications to the Intranet and Internet - when it all changes so quickly?'

It's far too long and convoluted and probably lost your attention. Don't make your readers work harder than they have to.

A progressive series of shorter questions framed in simpler language is more likely to catch their interest. Thus 'How can you keep up with the latest developments?' 'Do you understand computer jargon?' 'Would your business benefit from a website?

Using questions not only demands a reader response. In transforming a command into a question, you transform aggressive antagonism into a rapport-building exercise. For example: 'This is you!' becomes 'Is this you?' The tone is far less aggressive, and consequently is more likely to win the reader over.

Vary your style. As well as asking questions, use bold statements in your copy. If you've got the balance right, this will stop a single technique becoming overused and losing its effect. A bold statement such as 'Your company is headed for ecological disaster!' can be as attention-grabbing as a question, if not more so, particularly when it is not just one statement among many others.

Having raised the key issue in the headline, or shortly after, don't then stray from what initially involved the reader. Keep on relating the rest of the copy to the question. Otherwise the reader will quickly lose interest.

Pitfalls to avoid

Although questions involve the reader, you want to be sure of their response. Avoid posing questions where their answer is in doubt. If people respond the wrong way, you've lost them. In this case you might want to use a statement.

Thus instead of asking, 'Can you rely on your computer back-up systems?', you might say, 'When your computer lets you down, your customers go elsewhere!' which grabs the attention in a different way.

Don't ask questions that seem unanswerable. Just as they should be short, they should be reasonably specific. For example: 'What's the real story on the Internet?' is a non-question. It's too general and, as such, has little meaning. Instead, a question focusing on one aspect of the Internet would be more personal and relevant - for instance: 'How can the Internet benefit your business?' The more specific the question, the more powerful it is.

Beware of boring your reader. Questions don't have to be brutally terse but they must intrigue the reader. A dull question will provoke the response 'Don't know, don't care!'

Strengthen your questions

A good question can hook a reader. But some questions fail to throw down the gauntlet. For example, 'Is your mail delivered?' looks good enough on the face of it. You, however, would probably have asked, 'How much of your mail is delivered?'

The former invites a yes/no response. The latter triggers worry... about disgruntled customers... payments being delayed... customers switching to your rivals...

That emotional response will help you carry the reader forward and will help make them more receptive to the rest of your message.

This article was first published in Synergy, the free email newsletter from NRG.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The 7 secrets of effective business networking

Here is a graphical representation of the steps in effective business networking.

You can get the full guide at this link...

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Business Relationships

At NRG we have commissioned a survey to determine role of business networking in forming business relationships. This survey is being conducted by Roger Croft who organises the Entrepreneurs South West Events for the University of Bath. If you would like to complete the survey click the link below:
Business Relationships
The results will be released through the NRG ezine, Synergy.

Ecademy Marketplace Listings

Marketplace on the Ecademy site is a great place to promote your offers and services:

Ecademy Marketplace Listings : Dave Clarke