Networking Is Not an Option
Woody Allen’s said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Showing up counts. The more often you show up, the more visible you become, and the more people know you and recognize you.
Opportunities abound at the Holidays to meet new people at a very social and happy time of year. Invite someone you enjoy to go along with you—perhaps a new acquaintance or someone you haven’t seen in awhile. They make new connections, and you both win.
Many sales people refrain from actively networking. When I tell my clients that I expect them to attend at least one business networking event a week, they gasp. Am I asking them to do something so terrible?
We encounter so many people who network poorly. They shove business cards in our face and ask us to do referral marketing for them. They are loud and pushy and fail to understand that referral networking means connecting to people—one person at a time.
Consider networking an essential tool in building your Business Referral Network. The contacts you develop because you attend networking events emerge strong. You not only attend business networking gatherings, but you volunteer. Every organization needs and welcomes volunteers. Think about ways to contribute. Even if it is a small amount of time, you develop lasting relationships because others know your work, you deliver what you promise, and keep your time commitments.
Once you get to know people and they get to know you, you discover many opportunities to provide business referrals. Refer someone to a potential client, alliance partner, or to a person in a similar business. Give a personal referral—to an accountant, banker, or mechanic—a resource to help the other person. We become referral marketing sources for each other. How perfect!
One salesperson told me that she stopped going to certain networking groups because she didn’t receive any sales leads. She sounded desperate to me, and I bet she came across that way in her networking interactions. I told her if she relied on sales leads as a measure of networking success, she attended for the wrong reasons. Networking is building relationships and expanding our network of resources. Ultimately, we want to refer business back and forth. But that only happens when we take the time to get to know people. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Period. End of story.
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Build Your Business Referral Network
Referral networking means building relationships and being genuine. You network to make friends, sell a product, promote your company, find a job, find new clients, learn the latest from others, or gain more visibility in the business community. Business networking opportunities exist everywhere—meetings, professional associations, alumni groups, sports groups, community groups, weddings, parties, and any place people come together.
Set a goal and attend at least one networking event per week, where you meet potential referral sources. In fact, my referral marketing strategy includes proactive networking. This is a non-negotiable. Attend a breakfast, lunch, or evening networking event—or all three. Get out of your familiar places. Go where you clients go, go and hear an exciting speaker, attend professional association meetings, ask your colleagues what events they attend. Just show up!
Want great networking tips? Learn from the Mingling Maven, the leading authority and original expert on how to work a room: Susan RoAne and get her latest book, FACE TO FACE: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World (check out page 50 for a mention of yours, truly.)
Three Networking Goals
Manage your networking goals. My three goals when I attend a business networking event:
- Meet interesting people
- Learn a tip from an engaging speaker
- Have fun.
When I achieve at least two of these goals—and I make a point to do so—great things happen!
So go out there, build your Business Referral Network, meet terrific people, and watch your business soar!