Friday, December 21, 2007

Seasons Greetings

Networking or Selling?

A couple of weeks back a contact said to me "I really need to be networking with Companies with more than 250 employees."

We explored this a little more & established that her target market includes companies with more than 250 employees. She is selling into those companies not networking with them. The C level executives of those businesses network with their peers. As an independent professional providing service to those businesses it is important to build a network with other professionals with complimentary products and services in that space. It is those trusted relationships that are the route to market.

If you are looking for business today from the people you meet that is selling. Successful networking builds your business for tomorrow.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Does your network sell for you?

I was interviewed last night by Richard White of The Accidental Salesman on the theme, "Does your network to sell for you?".

This was done as a live webcast and will be available as a download to members of Richard's Accidental Salesman Club.

We spoke about some of the mistakes that people make when networking and I shared the NRG four stage model of going from first meeting someone to have them become an advocate:
1. Make contact
2. Follow up
3. Build relationship
4. Develop advocacy

Read the full article at this link, "Does your network sell for you?".

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Morgan PR and the Great Blogging Adventure: NRG giving!

I saw this post today from someone who came to our Reading Group's networking lunch & seminar;

Morgan PR and the Great Blogging Adventure: NRG giving!

It made me feel really good. How often do you leave positive feedback & testimonials?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Friday, November 16, 2007

Getting serious about Word of Mouth

A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar at a PR Company in Reading. The theme was "Grow your own business through effective sales, PR & Marketing". There were some good tips on traditional sales, PR & Marketing. Social Networking, however, was completely absent from the presentation. I asked one of the presenters if they saw it as important. I was left with the impression that Web 2.0 was not something they had embraced.

The same week I saw a presentation from Steve Clayton of Microsoft on "Web 2.0, Social Networking, Blogging & more". He underlined the importance of utilising the technology and getting serious about Word of Mouth Marketing.

As Philip Calvert put it in a recent NRG Business Networking Seminar, "If you're not on Google, Facebook & Myspace you don't exist!"

How are you utilising Social Networking in your Word of Mouth strategy?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Who else sells to your target market?

I had a couple of conversations this week where I raised this question.

In the first the person trained people interested in starting their own beauty therapy or related business. There are many college courses helping Women start in business developing links with those may be a good start.

In the second the person had a busines that halved the cost of fixed to mobile telephone calls. When I asked who else sold to his market he said everyone. I asked if it might be a good idea to focus particularly on developing relationships with others that sold complementary telecoms related products and services to his target market.

Who else sells to your target customers?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Friday, September 21, 2007

Do you have a clear proposition?

Do you ever struggle to understand someone else's proposition. It may well be someone you like and trust, and would love to help.

At a seminar today presented by NRG members, Tim Cumming and Anna Thomas they shared a very simple way of developing your message. It's not designed to be the message you give, but to help you develop the appropriate ones.

You just fill in the blanks:

We help [1.] to [2.] by providing [3.] which are more [4.] than most.

1 = audience
2 = outcome
3 = benefit
4 = differentiation

For example "We help business owners to build a steady pipeline of new business by providing facilitated business networking experiences which are more effective than most"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Friday, September 7, 2007

Your advocates help build your reputation

I received a message from a contact today.
He had received a response to an email;

"I would be delighted to take up your offer of a meeting. Someone I met last night was singing your praises and that has spurred me into action!"

Who is talking positively about you when you are not there?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Do you network to find advocates or customers?

During the seminar before an NRG Business Networking Lunch today we were discussing different approaches to networking. I explained that networking to build trusted relationships and develop advocates was far more productive than networking for customers.

One member shared his experience to support that view. When he first started networking he was looking for customers directly. He had some limited success. When he changed his approach to helping others and building relationships first his results increased dramatically.

He also won more customers from his networking contacts!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Crash course in networking

I received a telephone call just before one of our lunches from a journalist. He was writing a piece for Management Today about networking and wanted to pick my brains.

What are the key things about networking, he asked. Decide what you want to get out of it (be strategic), I said. Also, don't expect results immediately - it's all about developing relationships and that takes time.

His article is in the August edition of Management Today and is called Crash course in networking.

Martin Davies
NRG Business Networks

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Where building relationships can lead

At NRG we recently surveyed our members to find out what our members got out of the NRG relationship. I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that over half our members were actively collaborating with other members.

Then one of our more mature and wordly-wise members sat me down and explained things to me.

"You make a big thing about developing relationships don't you" he said.

"Absolutely, it is fundamental to successful networking" I said.

"Well, think about it - if your members do spend time getting to know other members in depth surely you shouldn't be surprise when a lot of them want to work together, share projects, jointly go to market - in other words, collaborate!"

Silly me - why didn't I think that through!

Martin Davies
NRG Business Networks

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If only I could get in front of the right person

I often hear business owners say 'if only I can get in front of more people'. When I ask who those people are they can't name them.

Recently I have heard NRG Business Networks members ask for specific connections in named companies. In one instance someone knew the boss of the Finance Director the member wanted an introduction to. In another someone had been at school with the Marketing Director.

Do a bit of research on people in your target market in advance. Help your network to help you get in front of the 'right people'.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Try getting someone else to do your one minute pitch

At a business networking event on Monday I was one of the 10 doing a 1 minute pitch to the group. Instead of doing it myself I asked a long standing NRG Business Networks member if he would do it for me. He agreed and instead of me saying how good it was he was able to focus on the benefit from a client perspective.

He concentrated on why he was happy to give the one minute, why he was a member and what he gave and received as a result. Everyone I spoke to afterwards commented on what a powerful endorsement it was.

Next time you have the opportunity why not give the approach a go?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Friday, July 20, 2007

Effective Networking

I found this step by step diagram demonstrating some great tips for attending networking events at the Effective Networking Inc. site:

What a great idea for explaining stuff.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How not to win friends and influence people

I was at a Chamber of Commerce event last night. It was a good opportunity to catch up with some contacts and meet some new people. I started talking to one person who perhaps should have slowed down on the free wine.

A lady approached us and introduced herself. I recognised that she would be a great possible ally for the other person, but when he came to introduce himself he couldn't pronounce his company name! She was clearly unimpressed.

If you've taken the time and trouble to attend an event that is primarily business focused it may be best to wait until afterwards to unwind :-)

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Who is really in the room?

I was in a training session yesterday with a new franchisee. Part of the session was about a seminar that we run on effective business networking and the questions that crop up from attendees. A colleague, Kim, related a story from a seminar in Gloucestershire.

One of the attendees at the end said, "That's all very well, but I need to talk at Director level in Financial Services Companies. Nobody here will be able to help"

Kim challenged him to name a Company and ask who had contacts. He named the largest insurance company in Cheltenham. 30 out of the 40 people there knew Directors either personally or professionally!

It was down to him then to connect with people and form relationships that would lead to an introduction.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to make an impact in 60 seconds

Someone asked me today for any tips on making an impact during a 60 second introduction at a networking event. I hear a lot of 60 second (or more!) presentations and so I thought about the most effective ones I had heard.

They are the ones where the person is clear and enthusiastic about who they are, the problems they solve, their target market, and what they are looking for. Spoken in language that we can all understand, and they are being themselves, genuine and authentic.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Monday, July 9, 2007

When creating a good impression pays dividends!

I was at a lunchtime networking meeting the other day and my neighbour, Richard, told me a great story. He has a successful web design business and was bidding recently for a medium sized company's redesign. It was a competitive bid and he was one of a number showing their wares. He was not hopeful, especially as the Managing Director was reputedly a 'toughy' and feared by his employess. The presentation was going to be difficult.

The Managing Director walked into the room, espied Richard and exclaimed "I know you!" It happened that some 18 months earlier Richard had presented for 5 minutes to a local IoD networking meeting. The Managing Director was also a member of the IoD and had seen Richard present. They didn't meet but the Managing Director had a good memory.

Richard was welcomed as a member of the same club, breezed through the presentation and, guess what, he got the business.

The moral of the story is not to join the IoD (unless you want to), rather it is to take the opporunity to 'put yourself about' whenver you can. You never know when a future client may be listening!

Martin Davies
NRG Business Networks

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

How not to network

I was at an event last week and engaged in conversation with someone I had just met. A third person came over, interrupted our conversation and thrust literature in both our hands! Then he moved on to distribute more amongst the other attendees.

Where do you think the rather expensively produced leaflet ended up?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Do you connect or just collect?

When you meet someone networking do you really take the time to engage in conversation? To really listen to what they tell you about themselves and what they do. Do you ask questions that reveal more than just business stuff? The kind that really bring the other person to life. That's the way to start a mutually beneficial business relationship.

I meet people who just collect a business card and move on. Sometimes they just give their card!

Make sure you take the time to connect and not just collect.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

Saturday, June 30, 2007

How long does it take to get value from networking?

In a previous blog about follow up I mentioned that I had been interviewed. Three videos from that interview are now online at the record of the event created by Andrew Wilcox and his Cabre Team.

In this video I was asked about creating a network of value and how long it takes;

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What first impression do you create?

I attended a seminar last week delivered by personal branding and image expert, Tessa Hood, of Changing Gear. If you create a bad first impression you may never get the chance to put it right so when you go networking dress and conduct yourself in a manner that is consistent with the service you provide. We're sometimes asked by people how they should dress for our events. We ask how they would dress if they were meeting a potential new client for the first time.

She asked if our perceptions about our personal brands matched other peoples. If you're not sure then get some feedback from your trusted contacts.

I found a great quote from Tom Peters on the subject. He said;

"Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Follow up

I attended the launch of Business Scene at Twickenham tonight and was interviewed about my support. It's a great example of bringing different networks together. Networking is a key business development activity and networks set a great example by collaborating with and supporting each other.

Before the interview I was asked if there was one question I would like asked. I said to ask "What's the most important thing to do after the event?".

My answer was to make the time to follow up. If you regularly follow up you will be different to most of the people that regularly spend time networking. Make sure you invest your time and meet up with the people you really connect with and start building a mutually beneficial business relationship.

That is unless you only go networking to meet people once or because you collect business cards!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, June 22, 2007

Word of mouth marketing strategy

I met someone last night with a translation business. During the conversation I asked, "How do you get your business?"

She replied "we get 50% from the internet." I asked about strategy and she explained in some detail and said that they used professional help.

I asked about the other half and she said it was word of mouth. I asked about the strategy for that and she didn't have one, so half of their new business was 'accidental'.

What's your word of mouth strategy?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Make your communications curt

At a seminar on Friday strategic communications expert Peter Brill of advised us to be CURT in our communications for them to be effective. You'll be glad to know he wasn't advising us to be rude!

Curt is for Clarity, Understanding, Relevant and Timely. Next time you have to present at a networking event ask yourself some questions;

Do I have a clear message?
Am I communicating in a way that the audience will understand?
How relevant is what I am saying to the audience?
Are there any external factors I can use to make my delivery more timely?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, June 15, 2007

The power of third party endorsements

I was at a networking lunch today where, as part of the format, we introduce ourselves and our businesses to the others around the table. Before it got to my turn one of the other attendee's said totally unprompted, "I don't want to tell you about my business. I want to share how my business has been helped by Dave's."

The message delivered was much more powerful and had a much greater impact than anything I could have said. What a great example of networking advocacy.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Finding connectors

I was speaking with someone today that I had recently connected with on Facebook, an online social networking site. She said that since we connected lots of other people that she knew had found her & got in touch. Social networking sites are great for connecting and then building your visibility and reputation, an essential part of networking. They are also a great way of finding the connectors in your area. Those people with a large network that can connect you quickly to someone.

I regularly use, enjoy and recommend social networking sites like Facebook, Ecademy, Linkedin and Xing.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Networking groups save time

I network for advocates, those people that will recommend me unreservedly. I find that building trusted relationships and becoming an advocate for others first is the best way of doing this. I look for networking groups where the members have a similar outlook.

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity of hosting a meeting for a group I belong to. I decided to give people an exercise in becoming an advocate quickly. Before that I shared some numbers about my experiences in building relationships within the group;
  • Total group members 320
  • Members I had met 179
  • 121s with members 129
  • Furthering relationship 84
  • People I advocate 26
Someone then asked how many advocates I had in the room. It was more than 26!

I have subsequently calculated that to achieve this result without belonging to the group I would have had to have attended at least 12 times as many 'open' networking meetings. That would almost certainly have taken me an extra 3 years.

If you're not sure about joining a group then maybe you need to do some sums of your own.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The value of peer support

If you run your own business you often come across challenges that are difficult to see a way through. One of the added benefits of building trusted relationships within a network of people with similar challenges is being able to share your issues. To have a sounding board for ideas and problems.

We facilitate some small meetings (NRG Xtra) where a small number of peers share their issues. They then question & challenge each other, and offer the benefits of their experience and insight. Most people get an answer to their problem during a focused 15 to 20 minute session on their issue. There are very few things that a group of 5 to 8 business owners have not had experience of at what time or another.

Sharing these issues and really listening to each other is also a great way of building relationships. Are you tapping into the experience and wisdom in your network?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Getting business quickly

I met with a couple of people in my network today, people I advocate. I've known them for a few years and they have both invested their time in building trust in their relationships. They are embarking on a joint venture alongside their existing commitments. One of them won a pitch this week with another long term contact. They are reaping the rewards of building networks.

I also spoke to someone today at the start of his independent consultancy business. He is long enough into it to have discovered that his ex Corporate colleagues and contacts are not his network at all. They are part of his old Corporate network. It surprised him that they weren't there for him, as it surprises a lot of people. He recognises that he needs to build the sort of trusted relationships that I refer to in the 1st paragraph above. He also has the financial imperative to find some clients quickly.

It's absolutely essential for him to get clarity on 3 things quickly;
  • His target market
  • The problem he solves for them
  • The positive outcome of his intervention
Then he needs to identify some targets. Companies & names of people in them and the problems he can solve for them. The network can help him if he helps them.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How are you Building Trust?

For someone to advocate you and your services they need to know, like and trust you. They need to trust that you will deliver. It can be difficult to build this trust with someone who is not your client. As part of building a relationship you may have to find some way of helping your network experience what you do. They might need to see, hear or get a sense of it for themselves.

One way of doing this is sharing your knowledge through blogs like this. Another is delivering seminars. The seminars before NRG lunches are delivered by members to give other members & guests the benefit of their expertise.

I was at a lunch on Friday when Colin Newlyn offered a free 30 minute telephone business coaching session to other members to demonstrate his services. What are you doing to share your expertise and give people that important personal experience of your service?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

EXIT STRATEGY - The Small Business Owner's Ideal Outcome

Business exit strategy…"What is that?", you might ask. It is the general direction that you want to follow that will prepare the business for you to leave when your objective is achieved. If you are like many small business owners, your strategy might be simply to provide you with income until you reach the point that you want to retire.

You might want to pursue the strategy of building an asset, that will appreciate in value, you can sell in the future. For some that sale might be through a public stock offering. For others, it might be a company that operates smoothly enough that it can function without you, making it something worth buying by a future private owner.

A third popular strategy is to create a business that will run effectively without you that you will continue to own. Many business owners are beginning to recognize the value of this strategy.

If you currently draw $100,000 per year from your business to support your lifestyle, you have a couple options. If you sell your business and invest the principle at a 10% return, you must have $1,000,000 to sustain a $100,000 a year income contribution. On the other hand, if you can design the business to require a minimum amount of your personal time and attention, you can continue to draw the $100,000 from the business for as long as you want.

Perhaps, one of the most exciting examples of the third strategy being explored in the business community today is Tim Ferriss’ discussion of the 4-Hour Workweek. He explains how he went from Working 80 hours per week to earn $40,000 per year to earning $40,000 per month working 4 hours per week. His book titled “The 4-Hour Workweek” describes his journey.

If you would like to hear Tim live, he will be interviewed by famed business marketing expert, Joe Polish. You can listen in on your phone for free:

*The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World*

Date: This Wednesday, May 30
Time: 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern
PHONE: 620-294-4005

Make sure you hop on the call early!
You're about to find out what a world-record holder in tango, a national champion in Chinese kickboxing, and the owner of a multi-national supplement business have in common...and how he has so darn much free time!

If you read this message after that date, you have a couple other options that I can suggest. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing did a great podcast recorded interview dated April 23, 2007.

Or see Tim's Blog.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The importance of rapport

rapport n. A feeling of harmonious connection between people.

Have you ever left a business networking event feeling that you haven't really connected with anyone there? I prefer events where the structure allows me to develop some rapport with a few people. It's an important building block on the way to a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, May 18, 2007

Synergy alert

Stuart Harris recently introduced me to one of his contacts with an email headed, synergy alert. What an excellent headline! He wrote (paraphrased):

"You two should meet each other. You're both great professionals and good men."

We have met and spoken for a good few hours, and a great business relationship is developing.

Who do you know that you could introduce to each other right now?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Networking really works fast

A couple of weeks ago London Sandler franchisee, Marcus Cauchi, had his regular Presidents Club venue cancelled at the last minute. A couple of calls and fellow NRG member, Rhidian Jones, had a new and better venue organised. Read more here >>>.

A great example of how investing in your network before you need help pays dividends.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nurturing relationships

When you are tuned into the needs & wants of your network it's not just opportunities that are important to them. I saw a news item in the Times today that has an important bearing on one of the items a good contact utilises in seminars on 'commercialising your ideas'.

I sent him the story to avoid any potential embarassment. How often do you see something that could be of value to someone you know?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making notes of meetings

I went to a presentation some time ago when the presenter shared a method that he used for taking notes. I've combined his advice for using colours with mind mapping so that I can instantly look at my notes and see what actions I have agreed to take. I find this essential in that all important business networking follow up.

Sine then I make notes with mind maps using a four coloured pen with blue for data, red for action, green if something needs fixing & black if there is real drama present.

If I'm writing on someone's business card I generally use red & blue. It's easy then to identify the actions I have agreed.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Educate, educate, educate

I attended an excellent marketing masterclass by Nigel Temple this evening. One of the points he made about differentiation was the importance of freely sharing useful information in your marketing. He said it was better to be seen as an expert than to just claim you are. His point is illustrated beautifully by the amount of free resources at his own website,

It reminds me of a quote from an NRG member in some research into business networking that NRG conducted a couple of years ago:

"I do not do any cold calling - all my business comes from networking and referrals. Much of it is as a result of doing a presentation where I share my secrets so people know how to do what I do. Mostly, they prefer to ask me to do it for them, even though I've explained how they can do it for themselves! Networking is not about selling - it's about building relationships."

This demonstrates nicely how Nigel's good advice applies equally in the relationship building context in business networking.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

"How Can I help you?"

I was at the NRG Networking Lunch in London today and our table moderator posed the same question to each person, "How can we help?". The answers that stimulated the most activity were the ones from members who had been building their relationships in the network, and who were specific with their requests.

One person said he was interested in meeting printing companies interested in joint venturing. Two introductions were offered immediately.

Another person was interested in bespoke software developers with Property clients and received three immediate introductions.

Assuming you have those good relationships in place do you know how to ask specifically for what you want?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, May 7, 2007

How do I get access to someone's clients?

How often have I heard NRG members ask this question? The last time was a few days ago at an NRG Xtra meeting where one of the attendees was asking help as to how he got access to an accountant's clients. He said he always found accountants very reserved about giving access to their clients.

Sound familiar?

We discussed this and came to the following conclusions:

1. Nobody is prepared to give access to their contact list unless they have formed a trusted relationship with you.

2. Always give before you ask - find a way to give them something of value - with no strings attached. Form the relationship based upon what you can do for the other person.

3. It takes time and effort to develop such a relationship.

As it happened the person who raised the issue had already made an offer of a free part of his service to the accountant - who was delighted! He was proving that business networking is all about developing business relationships first!

Good networking!

Martin Davies

Saturday, May 5, 2007

When should I offer a 'freebie'?

I was having a 1-2-1 meeting with a new NRG member, who was in the Internet Services business. He asked me "I never know whether it's OK to offer a free traffic analysis of their website to someone I've met when networking - I'm worried they'll think me pushy and think it's a sales ploy."

My answer was that it depended on how you set the scene. I thought it was fine if you introduced the offer in the context that you were trying to increase your visibility in business, really wanted to educate people you met about what you did and the best way was to show them - hence the offer.

The key thing in business networking is to make sure the offer is without strings - none of us likes to feel beholden.

Good networking!

Martin Davies

Friday, May 4, 2007

What’s your NRG? Part Two.

In “What’s your NRG? Part One” I introduced the concept of Networking Reliability Grade, the trust levels required for different value networking transactions.

These levels move from 1 to 6. NRG level 1 is where no trust is required and NRG level 6 is where complete trust is required. These NRG levels indicate increasing levels of trust. These levels with an example of a networking transaction for each:

NRG Level 1 – Swap business cards at a networking event
NRG Level 2 - Arrange an informal meeting to get to know each other
NRG Level 3 - Invite someone to come along to your regular networking group
NRG Level 4 - Actively look for potential referral opportunities for a contact
NRG Level 5 - Arrange a meeting to introduce 2 of your contacts to each other
NRG Level 6 - Provide a testimonial for a contact to another trusted contact

Putting this all together gives us an insight into the strategies employed in building trusted business relationships and ultimately a network of advocates. More on that later…

If you know anyone who attends lots of networking events & collects lots of business cards, but is getting nowhere then they are operating almost entirely at NRG level 1.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What’s your NRG? Part One.

In this context NRG stands for Networking Reliability Grade and is used for the trust levels identified as key stages in the business networking research we did a couple of years ago.

The ultimate in relationship networking is when someone introduces you to a prospect for your product or service and introduces you as the person they simply must do business with. An ‘advocate’ introduction of this sort will only happen when you have built a business relationship based on complete trust.

In the research we established that trust is built through networking transactions and as the transaction value increases it is necessary for your trustworthiness or Networking Reliability Grade (NRG) to increase. Providing you perform well during networking transactions your NRG increases.

NRG levels move from 1 to 6. NRG level 1 is where no trust is required and NRG level 6 is where complete trust is required.

An example of a networking transaction where you only need NRG level 1 would be a simple introduction at an event.

An example of a networking transaction where you need NRG level 6 would be the ultimate described above.

I’ll introduce the other levels and some examples over the coming days together with what you have to do to move from NRG Level 1 to NRG Level 6.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Hey this networking stuff really does work....

Just found this post from Phil Parr of the branding agency twentyfive on Ecademy; "Hey this networking stuff really does work...."

Phil said, "After 18 months of hard networking, doing the lunches, going to the breakfasts, making time for 1-2-1 meetings and presenting seminars, I am finally starting to get referrals in to companies that are not only right in terms of size and turnover but are ready to do the serious deep level branding that we do!

I have to admit to a bit of a crisis in confidence a couple of months ago - I even thought of cutting right back on the activity (it just seemed like so much effort with no reward) but I stuck in there and it's proved to be the right decision.

So all you people out there who may be wavering - here's my advice: Stick it out, it may take some time, but the referrals are out there."

Phil's absolutely right. It does take time to build relationships and your reputation, but that's where it pays off. I suspect if all he had been doing were the meetings then he would still be waiting.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

It's who you know!

I am writing this after just collecting my laptop from a friend...

I live about 80 miles West of London and often get the train to attend meetings and events there. Yesterday morning I attended the launch of a new business in Central London. I had a meeting arranged in Reading (Berkshire) at lunchtime so I parked in Reading and got the train to and from London. On the return journey I left my bag on the train.

I called the train company with no luck. I called their lost property company and then the station with the final destination (Bristol). I learned that I wouldn't be able to find out until at least 6 hours later whether the bag had been handed in or not. I called my wife to get the number of a friend of ours who is a train driver with the train company concerned. By coincidence he was on his way to Bristol to start work and got there as my bag was being delivered to the lost property office. Panic over. A couple of weeks ago I helped him with a problem with a new computer and the beers were on him. The beers are definitely on me this time :-)

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, April 30, 2007

Simple rule of thumb guide to networking 2

I've been thinking about a previous post, a simple rule of thumb guide to networking. In it I recalled a post on ecademy where I had written: "Ask yourself what you would like people in your Network to do for you, then take the initiative and do it for them".

In some instances people may not want what you want so a better rule of thumb might be:

"Ask yourself what people in your Network would like, then take the initiative and do it for them"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Truth or Delusion

I attended an excellent presentation from Ivan Misner the founder of BNI yesterday. The theme of Truth or Delusion was from his new book on networking which sounds a great read. I think I'll probably refer to a few of his comments in time, but one of his points reminded me of a previous post of mine here>>>.

He presented a number of points and asked the audience if they were Truth or Delusion. The 2nd one was "You have to be an extrovert to be successful at Networking, Truth or Delusion". The answer of course - Delusion. Introverts tend to be better listeners and this is a key skill in successful networking. Use your 2 ears & 1 mouth in the right proportion.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Practising what your preach

I attended an all day business networking event yesterday. The event was to launch the Apprentice Programme from Business in Berkshire. This is a mentoring programme to match new businesses with more established businesses in the Berkshire area.

I spoke in the morning about 'How Networking Works' and then stayed to listen to the other presenters and to meet and talk with people during the day.

At the end someone said to me it's great to see you practise what you talked about earlier in the day.

It's important when building your reputation to not only say what you should be doing, but to do it too.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, April 20, 2007

Networking is all about managing your reputation!

I was talking to an IFA and an insolvency practitioner at a networking meeting a couple of days ago. The IFA was bemoaning the fact that he had only one (free) meeting with a prospective client before he expected them to sign up. The relationship building had to go a long way in one meeting!

So we talked about how networking helps this relationship building process. We came to the conclusion that networking is all about creating and managing your reputation. Over time, if you network effectively, your reputation goes before you. If you are introduced by someone who rates you by them saying "you must meet John before you make any decision about which IFA to choose" your reputation is working hard for you. When you do have that first meeting it then becomes much easier to make the prospect feel comfortable and to create the right relationship fast!

So think about your networking activity and ask yourself the question "Is this improving my reputation?"

Good networking!

Martin Davies

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Corporate Networking

In this post here >>> Andy Lopata shares some insights into current Networking thinking in Corporates. He interviewed Jeff Schick, the vice president of social computing software for IBM Corporation in New York, who described a software initiative, 'Lotus Connections' based on their own internal systems.

There appear to be 2 strands when referring to Corporates & Networking - internal & external networking.

1. Internal networking
Perhaps the IBM inititative suggests they know that networking is the way it all works anyway so why not make it more efficient. I remember talking to Keith Willett of Sanderson & Neale about some software tools that they use with Corporates. They have a product called networker to establish the real lines of communication and influence within a business. Definitely not the world according to the org chart.

2. External networking
I often get asked why Corporates don't attend networking events. Often the question is asked by someone who wants to sell to larger companies and this reveals some confusion about what networking really is. Networking is not selling and you are not going to get Corporate representatives flocking to somewhere to be sold too. On the other hand Corporates (banks, insurance, telecoms etc) often see the small business networks as places where their customers congregate and send their salespeople (to sell!) or sponsor their own or other events.

My experience is that Corporates do network externally. Mainly with their peers, and in places where they see it as appropriate to engage. An example of this is with Industry specific networks. When I was in the Telecoms Industry I belonged to the UK based Telecommunications Executive Network. Three quarters of that community are CEO/Director/VP.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How networking works

I was looking through some old notes yesterday. I found some notes I made whilst watching a 20 minute talk delivered by Richard White last year.

He made some great points and the list is a great reminder of how to get the most out of networking:

1. Relationships first, business second
2. Network for introducers not cusomers
3. Specialise!
4. Use stories to spark people's memory
5. Increase your activity.

Why not drop me a line if you are interested in further discussion?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, April 16, 2007

Simple rule of thumb guide to networking

In this blog, >A simple, free way of generating all the referrals you can handle, Nigel Temple took one of my posts and expanded on the subject.

He quoted his golden rule: "Treat others as you would like to be treated." I was reminded of something I posted on Ecademy a couple of years ago as the Simple rule of thumb guide to networking:

"Ask yourself what you would like people in your Network to do for you, then take the initiative and do it for them"

As Nigel says, "If you want people to listen to you, start listening to them" and "if you want referrals, start giving referrals - without asking for commission and without thought of return."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, April 13, 2007

Other benefits of Networking

Many people see the start of networking as an exchange of business cards at a networking event and the end as a business referral. If you focus on building relationships the benefits are much greater than a series of one off transactions.

One benefit that I often see is increased confidence. I was reminded of this whilst I listened to a 10 minute presentation at a business networking lunch yesterday. The speaker would not have volunteered had she not been amongst friends that she had got to know over the last couple of years.

I saw a great 10 minutes last year from someone who confessed that he found it difficult to engage in a conversation when he first started networking. Seven months later he delivered a presentation that people still talk about.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How do you create Advocates for your business?

I was talking to two people last week about a seminar I had just given on the 7 secrets of effective business networking.

One of them said "I agree with everything you said about relationships first, but how do you get someone to be an Advocate for you?"

I didn't get chance to reply as the other one said, "Become an advocate for others first. That's what I did and now I don't have to worry about it!"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The importance of 121 meetings

I had a 121 today when the subject of 121 meetings came up! I was talking about the importance of 121 meetings in building business networking relationships and the person I met shared some thoughts from his own experience.

He said that he finds the best 121s are when he has met someone a number of times at NRG Networking Events and there is some synergy betwwen them. This highlights the importance of joining and being visible within your chosen networking groups.

He went on to say that he has found that the best approach in 121s is to learn about the other person and how you can help. This gives you the opportunity to refer and introduce the people you are an Advocate for. Since he has adopted this approach he has found other people becoming an Advocate for him without him asking. He's having tremendous fun doing it too!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Friendly Persistence

Great post in Robert Middleton's blog here >>>. Robert blogs about the friendly persistence from the point of view of marketing, but they apply equally in a business networking context. Friendly persistence is a great habit to pick up when you follow up your contacts to arrange those all important 121 meetings.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, April 5, 2007

When you are wrong admit it quickly

I received a referral last week from a surprising source. A year ago this person sent me an email complaining about something I had said. My recollection was different and I made by point, but I apologised. After all the meaning of our communication is what is received (which can be very different from what we think we say!).

When the opportunity arose I said sorry personally. It turned out that it was a misunderstanding, but we spoke for a while and furthered the relationship. Our respect for each other grew and, crucially, our mutual trust. I've seen many instances where resentments and feuds have built instead because of the absence of real communication.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Trawler fishing v. fly fishing

I was reading this post from Richard White today, "Know your audience". In it he used an analogy about fishing to illustrate his point that the more you understand your audience the better you are able to attract them. It reminded me of a fishing analogy that I have used when speaking about business networking.

Many people tend to go trawler fishing when they should be fly fishing. In their desire to take every opportunity they widen their net as much as possible saying things like:
"I have no target customer"
"What we do is for everbody"
"We deal with any size of business"
The effect of this is that nobody knows what they are looking for.

Contrast this with the fly fishing approach when the person has honed their offering to a specific problem they solve for their target niche. An example is the person who says "We specialise in helping professional service firms win profitable new business". Immediately they have a point of connection with other people working with professional services firms and a potential new networking relationship.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Word of Mouth: The real action is offline

With everything written about the Internet you could forget the importance of actually meeting people.

Most of us utilise networking in our marketing because we recognise that personal recommendation is the most effective route to market. The Keller Fay group say that "According to McKinsey, three-quarters of all industries are driven by word of mouth. Bain says there is no better force to drive sales growth than strong customer advocacy".

In this article from the group, Word-of-mouth: The real action is offline, they point out that 72% of all word of mouth interaction takes place face-to-face, with a further 18% by phone.

It's important to have an effective marketing mix and the Internet is clearly important. Do make sure, though, that you invest enough time in meeting people. You can't engage in enough conversations personally so make sure that you are building a trusted network of advocates. Your advocates will be talking positively about you when you are not there.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sharing your expertise 2

In a previous blog (here >>>) I wrote about the importance of finding ways of sharing your expertise when networking.

Small business marketing expert, Nigel Temple, has written a quick guide to blogging. If you find the idea of starting your own blog a little daunting it's well worth a read:
"Blogging: is this the next Big Thing?".

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Networking is not Selling!

I went to a "networking event" last week that was promoted as an opportunity to "meet your best potential client". The expectation this sets is all wrong and leads to inevitable disappointment.

Networking is about building trusted relationships with other business people who introduce you to your "best potential client" time after time.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, March 30, 2007

Make Business Networking Follow Up a Habit

Get in the habit before you attend your networking group of setting aside time in your diary for follow up and 121s. Then when you have really connected with someone you have already made time to follow up.

As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, March 29, 2007

How many people do you need to meet?

If business networking is a vital part of your business development strategy you may want to ponder a few questions if you haven't already:

1. How many qualified referrals do you need every month
2. How many advocates do you need to generate those referrals
3. How many relationships do you need to have in progress to grow those advocates
4. How many people do you need to meet 121 to start & progress those relationships
5. How many people do you need to connect with to get those 121 meetings
6. How many groups do you need to belong to in order to get those 121s arranged
7. Which groups do you need to attend to decide which ones to join

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To meet your competitors or not

Some business networking groups only allow one representative from each trade or profession. That works for some and not for others.

I met an accountant a couple of weeks ago and he asked me if we imposed such a limit at NRG. I said no and asked him where he got most referrals. He thought for a minute and answered, "Other accountants!"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do you make time for 121s?

I met someone today who said he had been finding it difficult to make the time for 121 meetings. He knew that they were the single most important thing for building trusted relationships. His solution has been to set aside one day at an easily accessible location with coffee bar, restaurant and wireless internet.

He then schedules meetings from morning until evening and has seen an immediate benefit in his networking results. Make sure you find a way to make time for developing those all important business relationships.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, March 26, 2007

Become a good listener

Some of the best networkers I have met are introverted and shy people. Why? Because they build relationships, which builds trust. Most importantly, instead of pushing themselves forward, they tend to be good listeners. As such, they usually find out more than those looking for the next opportunity to hear their own voice!

Shy professionals also tend to reflect on what people tell them. This ability to remember what others say and value is critical to fostering good relationships.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Friday, March 23, 2007

What do you do?

I saw Andy Lopata speak at the Wellbeing Network yesterday and he delivered a thoroughly entertaining, informative and interactive session on practical networking. You can get some of Andy's thoughts at his blog.

One thing he said rang true for most of the audience. He said "When someone asks you 'what do you do?' at a networking event, it's the networking equivalent of 'do you come here often?'" He then went on to explain how important it is to build relationships first. As you build on those relationships you can then communicate exactly what you do and how you make a difference. Good Networking!

Give before you receive

In some research we did into business networking we asked 200 active & successful networkers which statement best described their approach. The majority chose:

"I develop a network of individuals that I can trust. I help and support those people, and expect the same in return."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The importance of PR

I saw Marketing Expert Nigel Temple deliver a great session on Internet Marketing last night. He gave some highly practical advice including the growing importance of blogging. See Nigel's blog here >>>.

We spoke beforehand when Nigel shared some advice on PR in building your brand. Coincidentally we had a piece in the local paper, the Swindon Advertiser today. See this link:
Networking lunch club is spreading net far and wide

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Is your strategy in business networking to avoid competitors or to look for things in common?

If you concentrate on synergies then the value of your network will be greater than the sum of its parts. Each connection will give you new insights and facilitate new opportunities.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

World Storytelling Day

I noticed on the BBC website that today is World Storytelling day. You often hear the expression 'people buy people' and illustrating your introduction with a story is a very useful aide in business networking. A quick story can give meaning to the information you are trying to convey.

For example I was talking with a member of NRG in London last week about the importance of building trusted relationships and how that can take time. He said that's so true and described how, almost imperceptibly, over the course of six or seven months he had built a pipeline of new business worth about £250,000.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Does technology rule you...

...or do you use it to support your business development activities? This is a great cartoon:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Go BIG for comic relief

Who do you follow up?

The benefits in business networking come from building relationships. If you're unsure where to start then you might want to arrange some 121 meetings based on the following criteria with a new contact:
  • do I like them?
  • are there points of contact (business or personal)?
  • do I find them interesting?
  • do I want to take this further (based on your initial conversation)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Art of Listening

"Seek first to understand not be understood" is a quote I've heard a few times. It's Habit 5 from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Listening is key to understanding, and is an important skill to be effective at business networking. Most of the time it's tempting to try and jump in and not really listen. Next time you meet someone on a 121 basis try and give them "a really good listening to" without constantly trying to think of something to say. That's a great phrase I first heard from Nick Heap. Nick's website >>> has some great practical resources.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sharing your expertise

In some research that we conducted a couple of years ago one of the main findings was how business owners build trust. 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 while building that all important trust. For instance they may well want to see you at work!

This can pose a problem in business networking. The network is your route to market so you need to have a strategy for sharing your expertise with someone unlikely to be your customer so that they get some experience of what you do.

You might do this in 121 sessions, public speaking, a 'free' consultation, a report, a blog or other ways appropriate for what you do.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, March 12, 2007

How To Educate a Community

Great quote from Frank Kanu's blog from an African proverb:

"When you educate a boy,
you educate an individual,
but when you educate a girl,
you educate a community."

Let's all learn from the girls.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

NRG six rules of good networking.

Thanks to Mark Lee for sharing this in his blog here >>>>. He says they are great advice for his audience of ambitious professionals. A reminder of the rules:

Rule 1. Don’t network to network. Define your purpose. For instance, your purpose may be to find contacts who can open doors for you, to find people for whom you can open doors (you are less likely to get the former without doing the latter), and to hear the gossip on the grapevine.

Rule 2. Build your network before you need it. People can tell the difference between desperation and an earnest attempt to create a relationship.

Rule 3. Never eat alone. If you’re in a strange city, look up someone on our website who you’d like to meet and have lunch with them.

Rule 4. Ask for what you want. People might say yes!

Rule 5. Don’t keep a tally, so open doors for other people generously, time and again, without counting the score. What goes round, comes round.

Rule 6. Be there!

Friday, March 9, 2007

That's AMORE

I like this presentation tip acronym which originally appeared in "The MediaCoach", a free ezine produced by Alan Stevens, and available at

A - Audience. The first thing you should consider. Who are they? What are they interested in? What will move them to take action?

M - Message. Your key theme, which should be brief, simple and relevant. Keep this in mind throughout your speech.

O - Opening. The first 15 seconds are crucial. Don't waste your time on pleasantries, get right to your message.

R - Recap. Hey! What happened to my speech? Well, that's the easy part. It's important that whatever you said, you provide a summary to reinforce your message.

E - Ending. The killer closing line that will hammer home your message and bring you a standing ovation.

With apologies to Dino, That's Amore. (Geddit?)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

What sort of people attend the event?

I'm asked "what sort of people attend your business networking events" and usually ask "who are you looking to meet?"

I'm always amazed when someone says "The CEO/MD of a business employing at least 50 people as they are the sort of customers I deal with". CEO's of those businesses network with other CEO's. Networking is not selling and your aim should be to find networks where the attendees also supply your target market or where your best introducers are. Concentrate first on relationship building and your leads follow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

How quickly do you follow up?

I was reminded tonight about someone I met last year who spent so much time in networking meetings that he never had any time to follow up. In fact someone at the same meeting told me not to refer anything to him as he was unreliable. The more networking meetings he attended and the more people he met the worse his reputation was getting!

Make sure you put enough time in the diary to follow up. Especially those you have promised something to. It's the beginning of that all important process of building a relationship.

Big opportunities for audio & video professionals

How many audio & video professionals do you currently have in your business networking groups? NRG Business Networks member Chris Bose reports in his blog that Google is testing radio advertising which will be available at a fraction of normal radio advertising costs. Read more here >>>>.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Write notes on the business cards you collect

Do you make notes about the people you talk with at a networking event? If so, how do you do it? I've met quite a few people who use a pocket notebook.

I usually use the person's card so it's really annoying to receive a plastic card, or a CD, or a card that's so full there is no space to write.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Follow Up

Many people think that making contact with new people is what networking is all about. Not true! Following up is the most important part of networking - otherwise why make new contacts?

When you first meet someone you make a judgement about whether you like them. As the relationship progresses, you make further judgements about their ability and reliability. NRG research has shown developing trust is the key to reducing risk in relationships.

The most effective way of building relationships is by having a face-to-face, or 1-2-1, meeting. Here is a simple, pragmatic list when choosing who to arrange follow-up meetings with:

  • Do I like them?
  • Are they interesting?
  • Are there points of contact?

The objectives of having a 1-2-1 meeting are to:

  • Confirm you like them;
  • Build rapport;
  • Research their business;
  • Appraise skill level, experience, qualifications and ability;
  • Establish if continuing to developing the relationship further is a good use of your time.

Here are some questions you might ask that will give you a great understanding of the other person:

  • Why did you choose your present role?
  • What is your expertise?
  • How do you know you did a good job?
  • What is your biggest project currently?
  • What contacts are looking for?
  • How can I help you? (make sure you mean this!)

Note they are all open questions and geared to understand what makes them tick. People enjoy talking about themselves and these questions are designed to get people talking passionately about what they do, and about their successes.

If there is a key objective for networking, it should be for you to try and make connections and introductions for the other person. This should be your top networking objective.

If you agree to do something as a result of this meeting, make sure you do it in the time you agreed. It's all about building trust.

Finally, find something you can do to add value to your network that demonstrates your value and expertise. This may be as simple as a regular telephone call or email sending them a relevant article. You may wish to develop the relationship further and offer to help them (to demonstrate your expertise) or even work together on a joint project.

The key to developing relationships is to follow up!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Be prepared

If you were in the scouts you will recognize the motto 'be prepared'. It's a useful tip in business networking as illustrated by an example this week. At NRG we always have an educational seminar before the Open Networking session and the Networking Lunch. The seminar is aimed at helping attendees learn essential business development skills. It's a great opportunity for members to share their expertise with the group.

The speaker for this week's event in Birmingham had to cancel unexpectedly. Fortunately NRG member Martin Firman was prepared to step in at the last minute. Always be ready for the opportunity to share your skills with an audience. It also happened to me at a breakfast a few weeks ago when the speaker for the education slot didn't show, and I was given the slot.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Does Business Networking really work?

I was at a networking meeting yesterday evening and someone asked me if I thought business networking really worked. I said I was biased, but why had she asked. She explained that the opinion of another contact was that it didn't.

I asked which she thought was the more powerful, telling prospects about yourself or by having someone else that they trust tell them about you. She thought it was by having someone else talking about you....

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Strategic Partnerships

Building relationships with others who operate in the same market place as you makes perfect sense as part of your business networking strategy. In fact if you concentrate on those who offer complimentary services to yours then you can open many more opportunities.

I attended an exhibition of companies today that had formalised this arrangement in an alliance to help each other. Someone there told me a great story about a Marketing Consultant and a Sales Consultant who had met at an NRG Lunch. They had built a relationship and just won a £30,000 contract with a joint bid!

Monday, February 26, 2007

PR - An Ecademy Journey

Ecademy are using PR to promote themselves by promoting member success stories. See this link >>>>. One of the often overlooked benefits of business networking is the opportunity for mutual PR.

What do you really do?

My colleague, Martin Davies, delivered our '7 secrets of effective business networking' seminar in Dudley on Friday. One of the points we make is the importance of communicating what you do and who for from the listener's point of view and not yours.

One of the attendees said he had struggled for years to describe what he did at business networking events. As a result of the 7 Secrets Seminar the penny dropped and he understood how to describe what he does in terms of business benefit. Rather than saying “I am an insolvency practitioner” he changed it to “I specialise in helping small businesses who are struggling financially to recover their business”. A clear focus for the audience on his expertise and market.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Strategic Internet Marketing & Business Networking

Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones, delivered a great seminar before the NRG Networking Lunch at London Charing Cross on Internet Marketing. In an excellent handout he gave some great advice about online marketing. Part of the strategy he recommends is getting other people talking about you, rather like our strategy for businesss networking. In fact he says:

"Successful companies succeed by word of mouth. That should be central to your Internet Marketing Strategy."

You can contact Graham at this link>>>> if you would like a copy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another great example of Advocacy

At a Networking Meeting on Monday one of the attendees was scheduled to do a one minute to the whole group. The week before he had solved an IT problem for another member of the group and she offered to do the one minute for him. She delivered a great endorsement as an advocate of his service.

Much more powerful than him doing it himself!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Growing your business through the power of metaphor

In some recent seminars at NRG Andrea Moffatt has explored the internal and external challenges of growing your business. She specialises in doing that through a medium that is at once so familiar that you don’t even recognise it and may be in danger of dismissing it. It’s the power of story and storytelling.

I was reminded of this at the launch in the UK last night of Roger Hamilton's book, Wink. On the surface the book is a simple story about a 9 year old boy meeting a number of people on a journey. The real story is in the conversations that he engages in that reveal the wealth generation strategies of the characters. Each of the characters has a different profile from Roger's Wealth Dynamics profiling system.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Power of Advocacy

At NRG Business Networking Events a member gets a 10 minute slot after lunch to present themselves or their business. At the London Selfridge NRG Event last week the scheduled 10 minute presenter, Jon Davey, of Business in Berkshire was unable to attend (sensibly deciding that his heavy cold should keep him away).

In his place NRG member, Richard White, delivered his endorsement of Jon's business from his own experience. A demonstration of advocacy in action and how a message from a 3rd party perspective can be more powerful than your own.

Building your Reputation

You know that most people you meet at Business Networking will not be your customers so it follows that Networking for Advocates rather than customers is a much more effective strategy. One aspect of this strategy is building relationships. Another is finding ways of building your reputation as an expert or leader in your field.

Chris Bose is a great exponent of sharing his knowledge freely when networking as a way of building his reputation. He sometimes does this by speaking at seminars during NRG Business Networking Events. He told me today that he had just received a valuable enquiry via someone who had seen him speak at a seminar a few months ago.

How are you demonstrating your expertise to your Network?

Friday, February 16, 2007

A great example of follow up

On Monday I posted about the importance of building relationships. The blog was about an unqualified referral I had just made. The person I referred just contacted me to say thank you and that his company had started an initial 3 month contract. A great example of follow up and of advocacy and successful business networking in action.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Returns from Networking

I posted this reply to another excellent thread from Rory Murray at Ecademy.

My first proper job was as a salesman. I remember being uncomfortable with the training process we went through that suggested selling was a numbers game and the number of presentations you made on the benefits the product was the most important factor in driving results. There was also the notion that some people were 'natural salespeople' and could sell anything to anyone. I won't quote some of the derogatory phrases used to illustrate this.

I pretty soon worked out that to get on I had to be one of the top performers. The conventional wisdom was that the top salespeople were the ones promoted.

My approach was to get to know people and find out about their real needs. The retailers I dealt with were not interested in the product I had. They were interested in the customers that they served. They were interested in the shelves and display areas being full of appropriate products that sold well and generated more profit per square foot. They were interested in the person that took the time to understand their business and help them become better at servicing their customers. They were interested in the person that took the time to recommend things and put them in touch with others of a like minded disposition. They were interested in the person that developed Relationships and the Return they provided was in ever increasing sales, support, introductions and some long lasting friendships. Some things that you can quantify and some that you can't.

There may be people wondering why they are getting no return for the time they are investing. Maybe some need to ask what they are spending their time doing. If they are not helping others meet their needs and also building their own reputation in the provision of whatever service it is they are providing then a review of their activity may be in order.

Preparing your Introduction

At business networking events I meet a lot of people who seem totally unprepared for the "So what do you do" question. Why not practise a short, helpful introduction for yourself. You will know when you have got it right when the person you are talking to says: 'How do you do that then?' There are only a few simple ingredients to a good introduction.

Something like "We help [target market] to [benefit]. For example, 'We help consultants double the value of their sales'. The trick is to make it interesting. So instead of telling people that you are an HR consultant, you might say: 'We help hotels retain their key staff.'

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ROR and the importance of Reputation

There's a good debate on Ecademy stimulated by a thread from Rory Murray on the subject of Return on Relationships and the importance of Reputation. It's at this link>>>>.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The importance of building relationships

I got a call this morning from someone who needed IT support help quickly in the local area. Their IT Manager was unavailable unexpectedly.

I've met quite a few people who would probably be ok, but at the forefront of my mind was the person that had put the time in.

We'd met & talked a few times. I'd had first hand experience of his help. He'd invested his time in building the relationship. The result - an unqualified referral.

Results from Business Networking can take time, but the rewards are there if you put the effort in.

Friday, February 9, 2007

How to become more memorable

A colleague of mine, Martin Davies, wrote this useful article in a recent edition of the NRG ezine, Synergy:

Do you find it difficult to get business referrals? Are you finding networking just not paying dividends?.

It's frustrating when this happens, but the problem may lie with you. It may be, for example, that your introduction isn't memorable and just doesn't register with people.

The most effective networkers are highly memorable. They make it easy to remember and repeat what they do and what makes them different.

Here are four things to consider when preparing your introduction. Aim to make this no more than 30 seconds. And try to make your message as graphic as if you were burning it permanently into people's brains with a branding iron.

Describe what you do in benefit terms that mean something

For example, if you are an IFA you might say: 'I help people build long-term wealth.' Or if you offer computer support you might say: 'We stop staff surfing the net on company time.' If you write databases you might say: 'We help people double the value of their data.'

What is your target market?

Find yourself a niche market. Avoid being too general - it's harder for people to remember. Our IFA might say: 'One of our target markets is independent professionals in their late 40s/early 50s.'

The computer support expert might say: 'Our target market is businesses employing 10-50 people around Cheltenham.' The result is that your audience will instinctively start to filter through their contacts to see if they know anyone who fits the bill.

What is their business pain?

The trick here is to pose a question or statement that your audience might hear from one of their contacts (or even have themselves). For example: 'I'm looking for people who are worried about their pension and don't know what to do.'

This sentence must have a 'pain' verb in it - in this case 'worried'.

Or: 'I'm looking for business owners who want to raise productivity. For example, if a dozen employees surf the 'net for an hour a day on company time, that's a whole year of lost production. Ouch!'

Experiment with this. For example, in the above scenario, ten employees amounts to 291 lost days, but that's not really a memorable figure. On the other hand 'a dozen' and 'a year' will stick.

How do you fix this pain?

You then say 'what we do is ......' Keep it to one sentence and focus on outcomes. For example: 'What we do is talk to them and build a plan that makes their money work for them properly.'

The trick here is to keep your introduction really simple and short but starting to build in what makes you different.

A successful introduction is short, memorable and begs the question: 'How do you do that then?'

Just one final point - practice!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Great quote from Dale Carnegie

I was reminded of this quote when exchanging messages with a Dale Carnegie trainer earlier today:

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you"

A big lesson here for networking. Show a genuine interest in other people. Learn to ask open questions ('how', 'why' 'who' and 'when' questions), listen attentively and make links to other people that you know.

People love to talk about their favourite subject - themselves! So, listen more than talk - we were given two ears and one mouth!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The importance of follow up

I was reminded today of an important rule in networking - always follow up contacts. I was talking with someone who had attended a lot of events recently, but not set aside time to follow up.

When you have taken the trouble to attend and meet people at an event put time in your diary for the follow up. It only need be a simple e-mail confirming where you met and what action, if any, was agreed. That could be the first steps in building that all important relationship.

If you have trouble remembering then maybe write yourself a reminder on their business card.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

International Networking Week.

An interesting initiative from Ivan Misner & BNI started this week - International Networking Week. The purpose of the week (from is:

"to raise the profile of networking in the wider community, recognising it as an essential tool for success in today’s business climate."

I went to a BNI organised 'Big Breakfast' in Bristol this morning and was made to feel very welcome. It was great to see the education slot focus on encouraging people to participate in a number of different networks. At NRG we stress the importance of networks setting an example and being inclusive and networking with other networks.

I look forward to this becoming an important event in the business calendar.

Monday, February 5, 2007

So what do you do then?

For many people this is the hardest question when they attend a networking event or talk to someone in business?

They know it's going to be asked so what do they do when someone asks the inevitable?

It can often have them babbling incoherently or rambling on and on in an increasingly incomprehensible manner.

Don't be like the character Dr Calvin played by Bridget Moynahan in the film, "I, Robot" when Detective Spooner ( played by Will Smith) asks her:

“What do you do?”

She replies "My general fields are advanced robotics and psychiatry although I specialise in hardware to wetware interfaces in an effort to advance our anti-amorphisation project.”

Better to have the clarity she expresses when Spooner asks again, “So what exactly do you do?" and she replies:

“I make the robots seem more human.”

So, if you know anyone who struggles & dreads those words, "so what is it that you do?" then suggest they think in advance about:

• Their target market
• What problems people in the market have that they can help with
• What they do to help relieve the pain that problem brings
• What positive outcome they leave them with

Friday, February 2, 2007

Is Networking working for you?

If networking isn't working well for you and your business then you might want to think about the following questions:

1. Is your business relationship or transaction focused?
2. How many networking contacts do you make?
3. How many 121s do you have?
4. What expertise and support do you give to your network?
5. How many networking contacts become your advocates?

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Return on Investment in Networking Relationships

You can only measure the Return on Investment in Relationships if you invest in the first instance. The currency of investment in relationships is Time. Invest your time in developing relationships!