Business networking through Online Community is the process of developing relationships in order to enhance knowledge, increase business and expand one’s sphere of influence.
Your Online Community network could include everyone from friends and relatives, business connections, your social network, current and previous co-workers, and members of groups to which you belong.
Business networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new leads, and tell others about your business. Active networking is vital to growth.
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Let's talk about inviting people to your business events in this article. The tips that I am going to share later applies to not only business related events but also normal events as well.
If you have tried inviting people to come for your business events be it networking or talks, you will agree with me that it is not easy to get the numbers especially if you are inviting business man and women because they prioritize almost all events according to ROI (Return On Investment) - if your event does not justify their time to be there, then most probably you will have a poor turnout.
Based on my experiences and observations from the other very experienced networkers in my business circle, I realize that there are only three things that you need to do it probably in order to have a high turn-up rate for your events.
1. Is this what they need?
I do not invite every person I meet to my business events such as BNI. If the first thing you meet someone new is to ask him / her to come to your event, then this is something that you may want to stop and re-think on.
Listening is by far the most important skill we need to learn and refine (not only for business). Thus, the first thing before we even start inviting is to ask relevant questions. For example, if you are holding an event for Internet Entrepreneurs to come together and network, you need to ask and assess if the person you are talking to has this area of interest.
A good question you can start off is, 'Have you been to other business networking events?'. This question not only help you understand them better but also make them reveal if they think they needed such exposure. You will be surprised that some business owners will answer this question admitting that they should go around networking more often! Now, do you think if you invite them to your event at this point of time, the person will be far more receptive and appreciate your invitation?
2. Persistent - the additional effort that makes the difference
A lot of invitations I receive nowadays rarely exceeds more than 3 times. If you are holding an event that happens regularly (for example, monthly), you must be persistent and keep inviting no less than 7 times. Most of the times, people are kind enough to tell you that they have other commitments and couldn't attend your event. If this is the case, invite them again when your next event is coming up. This kind of followup is the key that makes the difference.
I remembered I was inviting a business associate of mine who has rejected me no less than 5 to 10 times (I lost count...) because of his usual morning commitments. One day he finally make it to my BNI (Business Network International) event and thank me for inviting him to attend such an eye-opening event. I think sometimes we just have to be persistent especially if you see that your event adds value to the others.
3. Reminders - the secret to 100% turnouts
I never know that a simple reminder can make such a big difference until I came across a material by Dr. Ivan Misner who mentions that reminders are important and we should remind the people who have agreed to come for our events one or two days before the event.
It can be frustrating sometimes if you see that the person you have invited did not turn up in the end just because they forgot. Hence, a simple reminder either through phone or SMS can be very helpful. At the time of posting, there are already systems in place to send out automated reminders to people who have registered for events. One company that can help you to leverage this technology is FlexiSoft - managed by Norman Chin from BNI Singapore, Raffles Chapter.
There are many benefits of business networking:
1. Increased business.
Networking is great for generation of referrals. You get high-quality referrals through networking, and much higher quality leads than other forms of marketing.
2. Strong connections.
Betruedesign networking opportunities opens the door to talk to highly influential people that you won’t otherwise be able to find easily. You have a great source of relevant connections in your network that you can call on when you need them.
3. New opportunities.
You gain opportunities like joint ventures, partnerships, business, client leads, job, speaking and writing opportunities. Active networking increases your likelihood of receiving new opportunities for business, career advancement, and personal growth. Make sure the opportunities you get involved in should align with your goals and vision.
4. Career advice and support.
You get quality advice from your network on all sorts of things related to your business or even your personal life. Networking opens the door to valuable suggestions and guidance from experts and experienced people. Your sphere of experienced peers will be able to answer even your toughest questions.
5. New ideas.
Exchanging information on challenges, experiences and goals is a key benefit of networking. Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas. By talking to experts, you can gain insights from a different perspective. You see things in a new light.
6. Raising your profile.
Networking helps you build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person if done right. Regularly attending professional and social events will help you get noticed and advance your career.
7. Positive influence.
It’s important to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people that help you grow and thrive as a business owner.
8. More knowledge.
Networking is a great opportunity to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about the business techniques of others and stay abreast with latest industry developments.
9. Increased confidence.
By continuously putting yourself out there and meeting new people via a Online Community, you’re stepping outside your comfort zone and building invaluable social skills and self-confidence. You get increased confidence by regularly networking and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know.
Strong lasting friendships tend to form as a result of networking because mostly all are like-minded business owners.
11. Satisfaction from helping others.
Business owners have problems and issues within their business that needs solving, and it’s a great satisfaction helping others.
In short networking sessions organized by Betruedesign is actually about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time.
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