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.