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