Do you network in chambers, BNI groups, or wherever, just because they are available? Do you realize that some contribute to your business health and some actually get in the way?
What is the RIGHT place to network, and what is the RIGHT result you want from networking?
We’ll discuss the RIGHT place to network in this article, and the RIGHT result in another.
The RIGHT Place to Network:
Too often we have been networking for the sake of networking, just doing it without direction. I want to help you find the RIGHT direction and do it quickly. The faster you find the right place, the faster you will get explosive results for your business, those results you thought you should already have but haven’t.
You will find far greater success in finding the RIGHT place to network. So, what is the RIGHT place to network?
The RIGHT place is
- Where you can meet the RIGHT prospective client.
- Where the people you are meeting know or work with your RIGHT prospective client.
- In the RIGHT network–Where the networking group will support you instead of hamper you.
I’d say that list is also in order of priority, although 1 and 2 are a bit difficult to always decide the right order.
Where you can meet the RIGHT prospective client
- Make sure that you know who your RIGHT prospect is and have a very clear definition of that. It isn’t just everyone in the world, believe me. I work with clients all of the time that think they sell to the entire world, and can solve the entire world’s problems. Maybe they could solve most of the world’s problems, but that isn’t the issue here. The issue is that there is one small group that you are really good at helping, maybe that you’ve sold the most of, and is the easiest to reach. So, finding that is important. An example of finding the right niche market: One of my clients narrowed his market, and just one week later he had increased his revenue 10 times. He had 4.5-5 times more clients walking through the door, buying twice as much as any client before. That resulted in 9-10 times more revenue just one week later. It’s sometimes surprising, even to me, how that works. I’ve found that most networking organizations are NOT the right ones. Most of the people there don’t know my IDEAL clients, and most are definitely not my IDEAL clients. Knowing what your IDEAL client is a big step. Obviously I can serve most of the world, but, there is an IDEAL client that delivers me more revenue more often, and quite often with a lot less effort. An ideal client also is easier to close. When I talk to the rest of the world, my close ratio is low, maybe 1 in 10, but when I talk to the IDEAL client my close ratio can frequently reach the 50-75% area. And since I spend a lot of time in sales, that has a big impact on just how many clients I can deliver weekly.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this article talking about HOW to find that RIGHT client. It’s in my other articles, and on my website.
Where the people you are meeting know or work with the your RIGHT prospective client.
- Who knows the RIGHT prospect? This can be almost as important a question as who the right prospect is. Who already does business with your RIGHT prospect? Who might know the RIGHT prospect? It might be socially, in business, or just might live next door to them. Answer that question before moving on to the next statement.
In the RIGHT network–Where the networking group will support you instead of hamper you.
- Here is something I’ve discovered, sometimes the hard way. Not every chamber, BNI group, or other networking group is the RIGHT one for you. Every networking group has a personality, sometimes they are set by the overall organization policies, and sometimes they are set by whoever just happens to be in power, or the interface to you. There are networking organizations that see themselves as, what I call, the ideal networking group, those that are there to help ALL businesses build their business, to connect people, and to provide tools and resources that the members can use to build their business. Of course, there are those that say all of the right things we mentioned in the previous paragraph, but in reality limit their internal view either due to policies, or the people running them, and, frequently that will hamper you doing business within that group. In other words, all networking groups are not equal, as a matter of fact I’d say that more than half are in this latter category of unintentionally limiting business building, and access to the resources you need. When the Small Business Administration says that over 80% of all small businesses fail in their first 2 years, why would you think that just because it is a chamber or other networking group that their success rates of helping people build businesses would be more than 50%? Therefore, it is your job as a business owner or top executive to find those networking groups that will move you into the successful category. Let’s identify some good characteristics and some poor characteristics I’ve frequently seen, so that you can move quickly to get the results you want. I want you to quickly recognize those characteristics of networking organizations
- that will actually help you build your business further,
- and those that will not.
I want you to recognize that, in some cases, even those, that have, up to this point, not been helpful, can be shown how to turn their organization into the helpful one. I also want you to recognize that there are some that can’t be turned, and you have to cut your ties and immediately find the organizations that will.
Let’s take a look at some things I see as opportunities in networking organizations, and identify how some help, and some don’t, and how we might be able to make some things happen even when there is an obstacle.
- Committee membership–being active in a committee is one of the greatest things you can do. Setting across the table from a prospect or someone that knows a prospect will get you in the door fast. However, many networking groups limit membership to committees. I once spent almost 2 years trying to join a key committee on a chamber that chose their members by a vote from the committee membership. Therefore, if a competitor was on the committee you weren’t going to get on it. However, no one told me that until I had tried for two years. This is probably one of those organizations that you should cut your ties and find one that does help you do that. After spinning my wheels in one of the largest chambers for 2 years, I moved to a smaller one, but a fast growing one that exploded my opportunities, and my business, simply because they were open to me helping in their committees, and doing seminars for and with them.
- Seminars–giving seminars to help people improve their business is a fantastic way to get known. (Of course, at some point in the seminar you can suggest that you may have an even better way to take it way beyond what you showed them, as long as you don’t make it a big sales speech.) And, again, I’ve repeatedly seen many chambers, and other networking groups, vote internally what seminars will be next. And with a competitor on the committee, guess what? It isn’t going to be my seminar. You will also frequently run into a chamber staff member that has had a bad experience with a previous seminar. I frequently run into “We tried seminars once, they didn’t work.” Some will listen when I show them how to take what was a bad approach to one that delivers standing room only. Others will not listen. In which case I am in the wrong place and need to find one that will listen, or find ways to show them how. At times when I’ve gotten that standard reply, I’ve actually rented a room in the Chamber office, ran the seminar with standing room only attendance, and they get the idea, but sometimes they don’t. Even when there are barriers put up to my seminars, actually renting a room in a chamber and doing it anyway can be almost as good as having the chamber sponsor it. Also, be highly aware, that even if things have been working, that a chamber, or any networking group, can be highly political. After building a chamber up through the use of my seminars, from no one attending to standing room only on a consistent basis, I once had complaints by my competitors that I was getting all of the attention, therefore, the chamber had to, as they described it, “spread the wealth” and started giving others my seminar slots. Of course they were right. That’s what chambers are for, however, their seminar attendance dropped to near zero, and their new chamber staff, seeing those results said, “seminars don’t work, let’s stop them.” By then I had moved on to bigger and greater things. It’s up to you to not take no for an answer and make it happen for you, or move on quickly to a networking organization that will support you in making this happen.
I believe that
- Recognizing what is the right networking group is extremely important.
- Recognizing when there is an obstacle, and either finding ways to make it happen even with the obstacle, or moving on quickly.
- Never take NO for an answer, find a way to make it happen. Always look for the win-win. How you can develop your business using the chamber, and at the same time find ways to show the chamber how it is good for them, and how it will build the chamber further. Tailor what you deliver at the chamber to give that win-win.
- If it is the wrong chamber or other networking group, move on.–Find the right one that will HELP you.
Then work to deliver those results you need for your business while using those tools supplied by the networking group, or by partnering with them for a win-win for both. Look for those opportunities to help them while helping yourself. That will leverage your results big time.