Work Your Network !
If youíre networking with strangers, youíre wasting your time. A consultant friend of mine recently complained, ìIím doing 2-3 networking events a week ñ and Iím worn out.î When I asked why she felt networking was important, she replied, ìOne of my marketing goals is to do at least 1 networking event a week.î (I pointed out that she just admitted to doing 2-3 a week ñ and perhaps doing 1 a week is smart and doing triple that goal is causing some of the fatigue.) But thereís much more to the great American business myth of networking.
Myth 1: The more you network, the more effective your networking activities become.
Truth 1: Itís much more important to become well-known in 1-2 circles than to spread your networking activities over many different groups. Depth beats breadth every time.
I then asked her how networking was working for her. She said, ìI donít think I have gotten a shred of business out of it in the last six months.î Her rationale for doing networking: ìEverybody knows that you build a business by networking!î Does this make any sense? Or worse, does it sound familiar?
See if this networking scenario has happened to you:
You meet someone for 30 seconds. They mumble something about real estate as you are tuning them out. They ask you what you do, and you say you are in insurance. After 10 seconds of staring blankly at each other, you both head to the celery sticks for lack of anything better to do.
Myth 2: The cocktails and miniature wiener circuit is the way to network to success
Truth 2: Networking with strangers to build business is about as effective as going to a bar to get married. In the words of Dr. Phil, ìIt simply ainít gonna happen that way.î
Hereís why youíre not going to meet your business soul mate at a networking event:
1) You arenít going to do business with someone after meeting them for a few minutes and getting handed a poorly printed card.
2) Businesses are built on relationships and not ì30-second commercials,î no matter how effective and intriguing.
3) Most of us have major trouble in explaining what we do, much less getting past that explanation and listening for what prospects need.
4) Networking with strangers is not targeted or specific and in fact is completely random. For some people, networking is exactly as effective as cold calling, which is the least effective marketing tool there is.
So am I saying that networking is a waste of time? Absolutely not. What Iím saying is you need to start networking smarter.
Here are a few thoughts to jog your noggin:
* Network by having coffee or lunch with people one on one. Get to know them and their business. They may become a prospect, alliance partner, or referral source. But aim first and foremost to make them a friend. The rest will follow naturally.
* If youíre going to network with strangers, go with the goal of making 2-3 lunch or coffee dates with people you find interesting.
* Ask every happy customer you have (theyíre all happy, right?) for just one referral of someone who would be interested in your type of goods or services, then call and use their name. (ìHi Iím Fred and Ginger said I should call you. Isnít Ginger great?î) You already have one thing in common ñ Ginger!
* Create a network ìhit listî of the exact kind of businesses you want to network with ñ maybe you sell software and you want to meet IT managers at medium-size companies. Make the list and put it in your little black book or PDA. Focus your networking and outreach activities on only those people ñ or others who can refer you to those people.
* Join non-business groups and spend time doing non-business activities: Civic, social, religious, recreational, musical, athletic… the list is endless. Establish relationships with people in your group. Perhaps youíre a Moose and a realtor. A Moose, as it turns out, wants to by a house from another Moose. If so, you have the Moose Market cornered! Are you into hand-drumming. Guess what? A hand-drummer will want to do business with another hand-drummer. Get it?
* If you do go to a ìmixerî go with a targeted goal in mind. For example, your goal might be ìto meet three people on my target list and get their card so I can follow up for breakfast, lunch, coffee or badminton.î A traditional ìnetworking eventî now becomes simply the first phase of your targeted plan for global domination, and not an end in itself.
Hereís a final thought to shake up your networking mindset: Network with people who already know you, like you, or have done business with you.
Myth 3: Networking is all about getting more people to know what you do.
Truth 3: Networking is all about getting people that already know you to share opportunities where you can be helpful to each other.
Make 2-3 phone calls a day to connect with people from past jobs, former clients, or influential people who have expressed interest in you in the past.
We all have a ìfan baseî that we grossly underutilize.
Think about tapping into friends, colleagues, mentors, and family to mine the connections you already have at your fingertips.
So get out there and network ñ but make it worth your investment of time and energy by networking smart. As your mother always said, ìDonít network with strangers.î
The Hidden Power of Networking
We all make use of traditional forms of getting new business in ñ advertising, direct mail, brochures etc but networking is one form of marketing which, has been under-utilised. Until now that is. Small business owners are finally beginning to under stand the power of networking and what it can do for their sales figures.
But what is networking?
In its most basic form, itís word-of-mouth advertising but originated by you, not your customers. It involves taking every opportunity to raise awareness of your product or service amongst the people you meet. At a more sophisticated level, networking can be achieved by taking advantage of the formal networking groups or events that have been arranged purely with the idea of putting potential partners together.
But how can you, as a small business owner, become a more effective networker and take full advantage of the opportunities presented? We are going to give you some key tips and ideas on how to be a better networker.
<b>What are the key advantages of networking?</b>
Networking has some very good advantages over the traditional type of marketing:
ï Itís free! Talking to someone costs nothing except your time
ï Itís targeted marketing in that itís likely the person you are talking to has a direct interest in your product or service. Consider newspaper advertising, which will mostly be read by people who have no interest in what you have to offer
ï Itís face-to-face marketing unlike direct mail, adverts and telephone calls. You have the immediate opportunity to establish rapport and get an understanding of the personís problems
ï You have the chance to mix with business owners in other industries, which may open the door to new opportunities you had not previously considered
ï Itís not only a way of creating business but also a great way to solve problems and seek advice. Why sweat over a solution when someone has probably already experienced and solved the same problem? Ask and find out who can help you
<b>Where to find a network</b>
Finding a place to network, where like minded business owners are present, is not that difficult. Whilst you should be networking all the time ñ taking the opportunity to promote yourself where ever you can ñ itís more effective if you can meet people who are there to do the same thing; you can get onto the same wavelength that much quicker.
Here are some possible networking opportunities to think about:
ï Your local Chamber of Commerce, BNI group or business club – as well as hosting their normal meetings (which are great networking opportunities anyway) they may hold regular networking sessions which are dedicated to putting business people together
ï Government advice agencies ñ most countries have government bodies which have the remit of helping local small businesses, some of them may already hold network meetings where they bring together a batch of ënew recruitsí. Check out you countryís small business advice agency web sites to see what support they can offer
ï Trade Associations ñ your industry may have an association which holds regular meetings. Although you are interacting with businesses in the same line you will still be able to find solutions to problems and pick up new ideas. Who knows, if you establish good rapport with another business, they may be happy to refer surplus work to you or tap into a unique specialisation you may have?
ï Seminars ñ keep a look out for seminars being run for small business owners. As well as being informative, they are a great networking opportunity, especially over coffee and lunch when you have the chance to start a conversation going along the lines of, ìHow do you think youíre going to apply that point we learnt this morning in your line of business?î
In just this one question you will have found out what business they are in and one of the problems they are currently facing. If youíre lucky, you may be able to offer help as well ñ one extra sale!
ï Anywhere and everywhere ñ remember to network all the time! Never miss an opportunity to tell people what you do. You may only get a successful hit in one out of a hundred contacts, but one sale may be enough to make it all worthwhile!
<b>Where and when are meetings likely to be held?</b>
Formal networking events can be held over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast sessions are popular because it allows business owners to start the day on a positive note, leaving the remainder of the day free for ëbusiness as usualí. But how good are you at holding a sensible conversation at 7 oíclock in the morning? If you donít look or sound your best in the early morning, then you had better find an alternative!
The best networking events are where you are free to ëwork the roomí and not be tied to a table with food being served.
<b>What to prepare</b>
As with any marketing promotion, networking should be thoroughly prepared for. Badly presented sales pitches lead to lost sales; the same goes for networking. So what should you do before attending a networking session?
Step 1: Know your products and services inside out. If you are only just starting out, make sure you are fully briefed on all the innís and outís of your product.
Step 2: Write and rehearse an opening statement to the question ìWhat do you do?î This may sound an easy question but try thinking an answer on the spot and at the same time making it some good! Not so easy. Write a clear and concise statement, which encapsulates everything about your business. Remember, this is your chance to impress! Having decided on your opening line, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. It has to be word perfect and confident sounding.
Step 3: Make sure you have enough business cards. You donít want to scribble your number on the back of a napkin! Not very professional.
Step 4: Double check the venue and time. You donít want to turn up late and miss any opportunities or appear to be lacking in time management skills.
Step 5: Dress to impress. Make sure you are neat and tidy ñ everything a successful small business owner should be.
Step 6: Leave your house/office in plenty of time to make sure you donít arrive totally stressed out
You have arrived at the venue and if this is your first time, what are you likely to do? Find the nearest corner and pray that someone doesnít approach you! Networking, especially the first time, can be nerve-wracking. It does take a degree of confidence but over time this gets better.
The Importance of How You Spend Your Time Between Jobs – Various Options and Strategies You Should Think Of
With resume gaps now the norm, workers should pay attention to how they spend their time between jobs.
The reason is simple: Employers want to know how job candidates spent their time when they were out of work. Learning? Traveling? Moping? Being productive or non productive ? Planning for the future and doing things or just sitting around as if you were putting in time in a prison cell ? Unless you project the image of a can-do job seeker, you’re likely to have a tough time bouncing back from periods of unemployment.
Most job interviewers will be looking at what you doing to be productive with your time during your period between jobs.
One cannot stress the importance of demonstrating continued involvement with career-oriented activities. It’s not only critically important to the employer, but it’s important to the candidate as well . It takes away feelings of depression, discouragement and hopelessness.
To project an active, engaged attitude during a job search consider these tips for being productive when you’re out of work.
Volunteer your services . Volunteering provides “a double benefit”. In addition to giving back to a cause or organization, you get to work with people who see you in action. It becomes a great new networking environment .
Be a Leader. Join a professional organization, but don’t just attend meetings. Instead, take your involvement to the next level by serving on a board or organizing events. Through that you will often end up finding your next job .
Try taking classes . Employers are often wary about job candidates with outdated skills, especially in technical fields. If you take a class, or even begin pursuing an advanced degree, you already have a ready-made way of countering that perception as you demonstrate your engagement in the field.
Find an Internship . Those early in their careers may want to consider an internship, even if they have previously held a full-time job. The same goes for workers considering a career transition. An interneship may even help you with career transitions.
You may want to try teaching a cllass . Universities, community colleges and continuing-education programs such as in your local Y or in your local shool board often seek experienced people as well as professionals to teach classes. Aside from being a potential avenue for networking, teaching gigs look impressive to employers, positioning you as someone with expertise in your field and the ability to impart that expertise to others.
You can even try to be a Consultant to local organizations , businesses or local non-profit groups . If you are involved in a drawn-out job search try setting yourselv up as an independent consultant
Get business cards and a website. Your assignments may be small ones, but being a consultant allows you to market yourself as someone active and involved in your field.
Perhaps you should join a “Job Seekers Group”. Churches, libraries and other organizations often host groups for job seekers. These groups often serve to help people make contacts and provide support.
You should build social networks . With jobs and other commitments, many people find they don’t have time to develop the sort of social networks crucial to a productive life — and career. Often people ” get it done after they get everything else done,”
You should spend your time expanding social networks. Those connections often mean as much as professional ones during a job search. Start talking to your neighbour, and you learn they know X, Y , Z and B . It has been said by a very wise person
Raymond Strokon that if you know 5 people you know the world .
Have you ever thought of starting a business ? If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own business, a period of unemployment may actually be the time to try to pull it off. There was a telecommunications executive who started actually initianted a Web hosting company with a number of friends during a serious time of his “between jobs “.
Now his partners have other engagements now and then, but their cooperative arrangement allows them to spend more or less time on the business as their schedules permit. And, not surprisingly, networking for tis business helps in other aspects of their careers.
Remember always to have fun . Life should not be serious. Everything always seems to work out. Remember that ” in the long run we all will be dead.”
Enjoy yourself . Play golf. Go for a run. You may even want to build something or do something that you always wanted to and never had the time before . Perhaps a rec room or a backyard gazebo . It will gives you something good to talk and think about . It can set the tone of your conversation. And conversation, whether online or off, is often the lifeblood of a productive job search.
Strategies For Successful Business Networking
There are a variety of organizations that run networking groups across the country. The largest group is probably BNI, which offers members the chance to attend weekly meetings and develop new professional relationships to help them grow their business. some chambers of commerce are now organizing “leads groups” for their members as well. These groups are intended to offer members a way to connect with each other and potentially refer each other business.
In most “leads groups” each group allows no more then one representative from any industry, so if the group has a mortgage broker other mortgage brokers have to join another group or wait for the seat to open up. The idea is that by restricting membership, you eliminate competition within the group.
The agenda at most structured networking meetings is pretty straightforward. Each member is given an opportunity to introduce themselves, then there is a short presentation by one or two members (each member gets the chance eventually). The meeting ends with members discussing potential referrals for each other. This means that most of the members get about one minute to present who they are and teach the other members of the group how to refer to them.
Most people do a great job of presenting themselves. However, most people do not think to ask for referrals. At most networking events, you are not expected to ask for a referral or explain what a good referral for you is. However, at a leads group it is not only acceptable, it is expected!
I am involved in a number of networking groups and have used the simple outline below to create my elevator pitch (quick introduction). When I deliver my elevator pitch to a leads group, my goal is to educate everyone in the room about my company and what I do, as well as to teach them the best way to refer others to me. In addition, I want to make sure I actually ask for a specific referral. I will go through each piece of the outline in detail, but here are the basics.
o Position + company name
o Location of the company
o Overview of services
* Tell a story
* Call to action
The introduction piece of your presentation should stay the same every time you give it. You might say something like, “My name is Joe Smith. I am mortgage broker at ABC mortgages in Anytown, USA. We offer a full line of residential and commercial mortgage products.” You can add some additional detail, but you should really focus on keeping this short and on point.
At each meeting, you will have the chance to differentiate yourself from the competition by telling a short story during your presentation. The story can be related to a specific challenge you helped a client overcome, a unique feature of your product or service, or you can simply talk about a new development at your company. Consider writing out your stories in advance so you know what you are going to say at each meeting. In addition, you can schedule the content so that the other members of your group learn more and more about you at each meeting. You need to focus on educating your group a little more each week.
The “call to action” is very important and the piece that most people overlook. You need to tell the other members of your group exactly what type of referral you are looking for. For example, our mortgage broker, Joe Smith, might say, “Today a good referral for me would be a Realtor at XYZ real estate company.” Joe may also say, “Today a good referral for me would be anyone who purchased their home more then 10 years ago.”
I alway recommend that your “call to action” is as specific as possible. If Joe stands up and says that a good referral would be anyone who needs a mortgage, the rest of the group will have a harder time thinking of people to refer. If Joe asks for an introduction to a specific person at a specific company, someone in the group may know that person or know someone at that company who can facilitate Joe’s introduction. The more specific the request, the more likely it is to trigger someone else in the group’s memory.
A last minute hint:
Keep focused on the networks of the people in the group, not on the people themselves. In other words, when you are participating in a networking or leads group, you should not focus on gaining the business of the people at the table. Instead, you should focus on gaining their trust so that they will refer you people in their network.
Four Ways to Boost Your Online Business Through Networking
When you think about networking, do you visualize a bunch of people standing around schmoozing, trying to pitch their services to each other while exchanging business cards and ìelevator speechesî?
You know, some people actually enjoy that sort of thing. And when they do it right (which is a rare talent), they reap genuine rewards. Rewards such as new clients, joint venture partners, knowledgeable advisors, helpful friendsÖ in other words, mutually beneficial relationships.
But for many of us, the idea of going to a networking event ranks right up there with bathing an angry cat. Even if we think it ought to be done, weíd rather be flea food.
Donít worry. Thereís much more ñ and less ñ to networking than you think! You can reap the same wonderful rewards without having to mingle with a bunch of strangers.
Important: With any kind of networking, the key is to build powerful relationships by giving. Give your attention, advice, ideas, suggestions, support, compliments, referrals ñ and maybe even your business ñ to others. Give, give, giveÖ then receive more than you can imagine!
There are many ways you can get freelance work by networking, even if you hate schmoozing. Below are four powerful examples.
1. Tell your family and friends about your online business.
This seems like a no-brainer, but youíd be amazed at how many people fail to do this.
You donít have to pitch your services/products to your family and friends, but you certainly should not be keeping them secret! Youíll have many opportunities during normal conversations to mention that you enjoy internet marketing and earning money with your online activities. Just plant the seed and eventually it can grow into unexpected business.
And remember, even if your family and friends have no need for the products/services you offer, itís very likely that they know someone who does.
Key: Every person has connections to an average of 250 other people. When you decide not to mention your services to cousin Annie and neighbor Tom, youíre missing an opportunity to offer your services to hundreds of people they know!
2. Engage in virtual networking.
You do this online, from the comfort of your home office. Besides the benefits of not having to deal with people face-to-face, virtual networking allows you to create contact lists and join online communities comprised of people from all over the world. Most of these people you would probably never meet in any other way. Your virtual network can grow larger and faster than any form of traditional network.
Are you on someoneís email list? (Of course you are!) When they ask for opinions, give yours. When they raise an issue thatís of interest to you, send them a response about it. If theyíre selling something you can benefit from (and it fits your budget), buy it ñ then give them positive feedback about it.
Key: Become someone they know and enjoy hearing from, rather than just one of the many anonymous names on their mailing list.
Participate in online discussion forums, especially those where your ideal clients hang out. Lurk before you leap so you donít jump in and accidentally make a fool of yourself (not good for winning clients). Read the posts, get a feel for the ambiance. When you have something worthwhile to contribute, start participating. If the forum rules allow it, include a signature block that has a link to your website. But do NOT sell your services! Give valuable advice freely. The idea is to show your knowledge, expertise and desire to help others.
Key: Eventually the forum members will get to know you, like you and trust you. The next natural step for them is to think of you when they (or people in their network) need the products/services you provide!
3. Show off your talent.
Write, write, write! Submit articles to online article directories, write reports and/or ebooks, create your own website and e-zine ñ put yourself and your knowledge/skills on display, always including your contact information. When appropriate, offer to provide free special reports or articles for people with whom youíre building connections through your virtual networking activities.
Consider giving free workshops related to your niche through your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or other groups. If you have a job, check into offering ìbrownbagî (lunchtime) sessions on topics such as ì10 Tips for More Earning Money Online in Your Spare Timeî for your coworkers.
Key: You want to become the obvious person people will think of when they need your expertise, or the products/services you provide.
4. Attend seminars.
What types of seminars, workshops, conferences or meetings do your customers attend? Go to those events. They are networking goldmines and offer many opportunities to engage in natural conversations with people you want to meet. You donít have to schmooze or pitch your services. Just be friendly, ask questions, participate in discussions, and be yourself.
Key: Youíll not only learn about the specific issues and topics your target customers are interested in, youíll build relationships with them at the same time!
Job Hunting: Networking With Others is the Keys to Success
You can never underestimate the power of networking. Often success is directly proportional to the size of the social circle.
Whether you are looking for an entry level job or wanting to climb the career ladder you will need some kind of networking savvy in order to survive in the business world.
If you are looking for an entry level job your networking skills might be more important than the quality of your CV. Research shows that most jobs are obtained through contacts before the jobs even become open to the general public. In the established business world strong networking skills are shown to be one of the most powerful predictors in success. If you struggle with people skills and need some help expanding your network read on.
You will need to collect up all the business cards and contact numbers of the people you already know. Make one central place where you keep all your contacts’ information.
The Internet opens up a myriad of opportunities for those nervous about networking and interpersonal skills. With email and web sites you can reach a wider network than you ever could the ‘old fashioned way’. Even building a simple website could open up many new (international) contacts and opportunities. If you are able to effectively network online can be one of the most effective tools for those seeking jobs. Discussion forums, newsgroups, discussion groups and exchange ideas – and most importantly contact details.
There is no substitute for good old fashioned networking. You cannot replace the value of a first impression or underestimate the importance of really meeting people vs meeting online (although online meetings can reduce the stress and pressure associated with the first meeting).
If you are hesitant about networking because you lack confidence, then perhaps consider joining an organization such as Toastmasters. This is a public speaking organization which will help you build confidence and you can join from anywhere in the world. An added bonus – you will meet many new contacts and expand your circles.
Get creative with your networking. Look for opportunities to meet people and widen your social and business circles. If you are new to the job market, here are some networking strategies for first time job seekers. If you are looking for a job you need to keep expanding your network continually.
1. Make sure you understand how to use the internet to search effectively. Use all ways you can think of to come across new opportunities as they arrive
2. Create a spreadsheet or table, of all your contacts. Add as much information as you can: things like company names, titles, names of key contacts, phone numbers, and emails – any information you can. Leave space for notes and keep your table as organized and up to date as possible.
3. Regular contact: this is vital to the success of your network. Use any opportunity to connect. Ask advice, offer information you think will be useful to them – find reasons to communicate. When they respond make sure to thank them. It’s important not to take your network for granted.
4. Initiate face to face contact whenever possible.
5. Never pass up an opportunity to get out there and network. If you are in an industry that requires more networking and socializing then limit the amount of times you may say ‘no’. For example for every 2 invitations you turn down you must attend one.
6. Collect your contacts and feel free to call on them should the need arise.
7. Thank your contacts whenever they do something for you. Always be polite and courteous and do your best to respond to them timorously too. You want to come across as professional.