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Networking not working?

By: Kathleen Ries-Jubenville   |    Read time: 4 minutes


 

If networking isn't working for your business, then you are probably not net-working it right! 

Networking is an intentional process for developing trust and good will in business relationships.

If you are like most business owners, you started networking to get leads because you know they have major potential to make sales and put cash in your pocket.

But after trying it for a while and not getting the results you hoped for, you might be asking yourself: "Why isn't networking working for me?" 

I know you are a busy business owner, so if you are going to invest a lot of time into something, you need to be getting a return on that investment. 

You may be feeling frustrated because you're showing up to a lot of networking meetings, but not getting the referrals you want. 

You see other people getting referrals and it feels like you are being overlooked. 

I get it.  When I started networking 20 years ago, I felt invisible!

Nobody taught me networking skills in college! I had to figure out how to network on my own.  And I did!

I developed a 5-Step Networking System that has produced tremendous success for me and my clients. 

In fact it works so well, that after I sold my first business, I kept getting referrals for 2 years (even though I wasn't networking for it anymore!).

So...here it is:

The 5-Step Networking System

1. Pick TWO Networking groups: Get to know them!

Pick two - and only two - networking groups to join. The value of networking organizations is in the relationships. They need to get to know you to be able to trust you with their referrals. And you need to get to know them so you can give them business too. Any more than two networking groups, and you will spread yourself too thin and your relationships will be too superficial for quality referral partnerships.

a. Join one group designed specifically for non-competitive business networking.

Business Network International (BNI) is my favorite because the policy only allows one representative for each business type in a chapter. No other Business Coach is allowed to join my chapter while I am a member. I don't have any competition within the group!

b. And join one group that shares common interests with you (e.g. community service, a hobby, women in business, or faith-based).

I am also a member of a women entrepreneurs networking organization. This group allows competition between members. We focus on camaraderie, abundance, training, and encouragement in our meetings. As a result, our businesses - and friendships - grow and thrive.

2. Track your activities: Engage with them!

The key to unlocking success in any networking organization is to participate, follow-up, & BUILD TRUST.

a. Track your participation. If you don't plan and measure your networking activities, you may not be as engaged and your relationships will drift away. New members will be more active and will gain the momentum you lose.

b. And don't just attend the meetings. Follow-up with one to one calls or Zoom meetings or coffee chats. Really take an interest in others, take notes, think about who you can connect them with to help their business succeed.

c. Your consistency, reliability and intentionality will build trust with your networking partners.

3. Have a clear message: Teach them!

You must have a clear marketing message for your business. You must be clear about what you do, who you serve, and how you do it. You need this to succeed in business anyway, not just for networking!

a. Craft a clear business marketing message.

b. Repeat your message over and over again to your networking partners.

c. Teach them what kind of referrals you want and what to watch for and listen for so they can recognize them.

d. Then, teach your networking partners what to say to the referrals and how to make the connection to you.

4. Be a leader: Serve them!    

Help the networking group succeed.  Here are some ways to build credibility through leadership:

a. Give the members referrals!

b. Volunteer to be a leader.

c. Serve on a committee.

d. Offer a complimentary training session on your area of expertise.

e. Give a keynote presentation.

5. Practice "Giver's Gain:" Help them!

Help your networking partners succeed. Support their success first. It is NOT your goal to meet as many people as possible, hand everyone a business card, and try to sell to them.

Success in networking takes time! Be patient and try to help others along the way. Your giving spirit will be returned to you over the long run.

Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of Business Network International offers these wise words of advice: "Giver's Gain!"

Start implementing these 5 steps for networking success! Apply them consistently and just imagine a year from now, you're regularly getting referrals and introductions to qualified leads. Leads you can convert to sales and cash in your pocket!

 

The Fearless Climbers

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