Business networking for Business Development is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.
Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For Business Development the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.
Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.
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It is how as a Business Development we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.
Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.
In my experience of 20 years in consulting and industry, a typical successful Network Marketing guy would have the mindset of the owner of a mid-cap global company. Since you don't find many such people living next door, peoples difficulty in comprehending what they do - and this business - is natural. But if you look at any business, you will agree, here's what business needs:
2. Marketing Strategy
3. Training / Operations
4. Finance and
Let us look at each of these in the context of Network Marketing.
The product for network marketers is wide open. Anything can flow in the network. To give an example, in a telecom network, once your cables are laid, you can flow data, voice, video, text... whatever, through them. Similarly, a network marketer is actually in the business of laying the cables... comprised of consumers consuming good quality products. The focus is to maintain the robustness of the cable... the product per se, is immaterial. Several thousand international brands have partnered with Quixtar for instance, to tap into the strength of the networks Quixtar business owners have built. Numerous companies have partnered online through affiliate-ships for the same reason. So as a network marketer you can be sure you will always have a great product... or in fact various product lines... which would then be the least of your worries.
#2 Marketing Strategy
Since this is my pet subject I can write for hours on it but I won't. Because the strategy for success in network marketing is to reduce individual work and increase System work. By allowing a System to work every Network Marketer can leverage more from the team than by charting their own strategies. Robert Kiyosaki recommends Network Marketing so passionately because the marketing strategy is set in place by a System. True network marketers will search for a system for success and abide by it... and in doing so would change their everything... from mindset to finances to relationships!
#3 Training / Operations
Those of you who have engaged consultants in your business (and I mean like plumbers and baby-sitters in the business of running a house) know exactly how expensive this can be. But in Network Marketing you get Free operating advise from extremely successful business owners! Because they have a vested interest in your success. Every action of yours... the cost-benefit... the effectiveness... the impact... is well known in advance and you can follow footsteps to operate like the best.
This I believe is the most undervalued bonus of Network Marketing and for me personally, this alone has been worth a fortune. It is this advise that builds the mindset for leadership in all walks of life. And once that develops everything else is a cakewalk!
For any business to provide larger turnover and profit, the costs of operation increase. Right? Not so in Network Marketing. Here, though the business expands exponentially, the expenses remain at the same level (usually quite nominal and risk-free). Consequently this is the only business where you can be absolutely in control of cash-flow planning and growth. Which is a severe stress-point in any other business.
Secondly, since network marketing is a B-quadrant business (ref Robert Kiyosaki), the money comes in much after the work is done. It's like in farming, where you plant the seeds in one season and harvest the next season. This ruffles up a lot of people who are used to money-for-effort like in a job or sales (no guarantees about that now though. And this is why one must be open to training, to develop the mindset of the rich!
This is one area where traditional business and Network Marketing differ rather significantly. In a traditional business you 'pay' people to follow instructions. In Network Marketing you 'inspire' people to do that.
You yourself do what needs to be done and teach others how to duplicate the simplicity of that. This is why network marketers are basically in search of open-minded students. Just like the Rotary Club is in search of socially inclined business-persons and the Art-of-Living Community is in search of people willing to be navigated to a higher consciousness.
Net net, the business of Network Marketing is boundless and in 75 years of its presence on the planet we have barely scratched its surface. The business model is in search of an army of volunteers with an abundance mindset and a higher consciousness to awaken society and herald revolutionary change. Historically, such movements take a century on the make... and so the time for the Network Marketing movement has come!
PS: Business is business and network marketing - for its wonderful nature - is business 2.0... but network marketing as an instrument to uplift world consciousness is Business 2.1 and you can take it there! Contact me to know how.
Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.
Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.
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Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.
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.
Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible Business Development you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.
Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for Business Development to build relationships and expand your network.
Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.