Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Build a Strong Network

February 1 - 5 is International Networking Week.

They say that Millionaires have the largest Rolodex or in today’s terms, databases.


Would you agree that most of the time when you go to a networking event and/or meet someone new that you exchange business cards and exchange information about your respective businesses?

What happens next?

Afterwards do you sit around and wait for your phone to ring from someone who wants to do business with you?

Lets examine how to take those meetings and collected business cards build a Network so that the Phone will start ringing.

It’s all about building relationships.

Here some things that will help with building strong relationships.

If you are a member of BNI you know what VCP means.

Visibility + Credibility = Profitability

The philosophy of BNI is

“Givers Gain”

The 10 points below are based on these two key points.

The first five are about Visibility which all help to build your creditability

1. Be Visible - Show up – Now that seems kind of obvious, right? How many times have you heard someone say, “Well I went to that network meeting and handed out my cards and I didn’t get one single lead.”

Do you know it takes people seeing and hearing you 7 to 8 times before they remember you and what you do?

In Advertising and Marketing it’s called ‘Spaced Repetition Education.’ Why do you think they run the same ads over and over again on TV? Because most of us don’t remember them. The same applies with meeting new people.

Think about when you join a networking group. Most want you to commit to at least 90 days.

When you run an ad, they want you to commit to running that ad a minimum of 3 to 6 times. Why? People have to see you and hear you 7 to 8 times before they remember you, must less what you sell or the service you offer.

So Find the Networking groups that work for you and go on a regular and consistent basis.

2. Brand Yourself – By Name, By Business Name, Tag Line, or Appearance, etc. This will make you memorable.

Examples of branding - What companies do you think about when you see -

I meet people all the time. A lot of people know me as “The Painted Lady” even though they don’t know my name. Or when I give them my business card they will comment, 'Where have I seen that before?' So I know my branding works.

Part of branding yourself and your business is being consistent in all your marketing material. And have a memorable business card. Because when they look at those cards later, you want yours to stand out. If someone doesn’t comment on your business card after handing out about 5 to 10 times, you need to redesign and get new business cards.

3. Your Elevator speech – Be able to tell someone in 30 seconds what you do that peeks their interest and makes them ask questions and want to hear more.

Know your USP – Unique selling proposition. Be able to tell someone what makes you and your business unique. Different from everyone else’s. And don’t say “Because I give great customer service.” Everyone says that.

Example: I have a friend and business associate that is certified to sell luxury homes. I thought that was pretty unique.

Practice your 30 second infomercial until it feels natural and make sure it is in terms your audience will understand.

4. Volunteer – Give back. Going back to the BNI philosophy of “Givers Gain.”
a. Within your networking groups – Offer to help
b. Chamber – Be an ambassador
c. Community groups – Charities, whatever is your favorite cause.

One of the best positions to volunteer for is the sign in table for meetings and events and/or membership chair. These are two key positions that will get you visibility.

This is giving you Visibility and building your Credibility

5. Be Reliable – Say what you do and do what you say. Building a relationship is about building trust. Being a person that can be depended on and to get the job done. Also part of being reliable is showing up on time or better yet - show up early. By being early you are more visible and you have the opportunity to meet more people.

6. The Fortune’s in the Follow up - How many times have you heard that?

a. Follow up if at all possible within 24 to 48 hours. Strike while the iron is hot. While you are still memorable
b. And - Keep in touch with people – Phone call, Email, Drop by, Send a card with a personal note by Snail mail, Just Because, birthday, anniversary, Congratulations, etc. Why? Because that makes you different. It shows you do go the extra mile. It shows you want to build the relationship. Any good real estate agent is taught to ‘touch’ their warm market at least 10 times per year – why – because Everyone knows somebody that will be buying or selling real estate. This same principal can be applied to any business.
c. Also, follow up with the person who gave you the referral. Say thank you and let them know you followed through, because that person has put their trust in you and they are depending on you to follow through.

7. Take the Initiative Go beyond the follow up. Ask questions. Find out how you can help them be successful. Let them know you have an interest in them.

Call someone and invite them for coffee or lunch. One of the best ways to get someone to agree to meet you for coffee or lunch is to say “Gail, your business sounds fascinating. I would love to meet you for coffee and learn more so that I can be a good referral source for you.”

Now do you think Gail is going to turn me down.

An even better way to build that trust and relationship is to arrange an introduction. And all three of you meet. Now that shows trust and confidence.

Everyone has a Circle of Influence of about 250 to 300 people. You want to know who is in their circle of influence, but they have to trust you first to give out that information.

8. Be the ‘Go to Person’ - Be a referral source. We all know someone we trust and that knows everyone and when we need a product or service, we call that person. Be that person. Be a source for information.

Zip Ziglar says that if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.

9. Offer something of Value – Do you have a website? A blog? Newsletter?
a. Offer tips, ideas, information, etc. Don't always be trying to make the sale.

I have a Facebook Group that is dedicated to “Networking Opportunities” in my local area. Why do you think I maintain this website? It offers people a source of information and something of value. I also help host an all women networking group. Again it’s a way to help others and especially women.

10. Say Thank You. “Silent Gratitude is of Little Value”
a. Honor and thank all those that lend a helping hand. Show your appreciation to your referral partners, clients, and anyone that has reached out and helped you in any small way. A simple Thank You card goes a long way

68% of clients go somewhere else due to perceived indifference.

In closing John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

Let’s give that a new twist – “Ask not what your Network can do for you, but what you can do for your Network.”

Networking is the most effective form of marketing and the most cost effective. But in order for networking to work, you have to work it. And I believe that by working to build long term strong relationships you will be rewarded ten fold.

Happy Networking,
"Helping You and Your Business Look Good"

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]



blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online