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