Networking Tips and Blog
How to Keep Making Hits…in your networking!
Many new ball players start out in their leagues batting really strong. After a while the players develop bad habits with their swings, and their batting averages drop. When that happens, the players make small adjustments, or simply go back to their original swing.
I have seen it in our networking organization, as well. Someone will join one of the groups, they are enthused, and their enthusiasm shows. People are giving them business, and life is wonderful. All of a sudden, the day comes when the referrals slow down. Many members mistakenly blame the organization rather than realize they have developed bad habits with their “swing.”
Occasionally, we have members who just decide to check out for various reasons. It could be for family issues, children sports, appointments for work, don’t feel well, health reasons, etc. I would compare networking to a Marathon runner; it’s about having the committed effort, but, a lot of people quit before they reach mile 26. They start the marathon excited, and as miles go by and obstacles come their way (weather conditions, feeling tired, not as much fun as it was in the beginning, etc.), that’s when they slow up, or simply drop out of the race.
You have to want to reach the Finish Line! Which, in networking is, meeting great people and establishing great relationships – that’s what the journey of success is all about. That is what Networking is all about.
When you are ready to make adjustments to your networking, the first thing to look at is, are you attending all of the morning meetings like you used to when you were new? Are you excited about giving business to the other members and about setting up one-on-ones to learn how you can help them with their business? Are you still excited about attending the mixers and other functions? When you do attend, do you hang out with the same old members you are familiar with, or are you looking to expand your network to the new members?
At the breakfast meetings, are you early for the meetings, or do you come late and leave quickly? Do you engage with the members by telling them new things about your business, or sharing changes in your industry? Do you bring samples, or articles, or photos of your work so you can grab their attention while you explain to them how to sell your services to get referrals? Or, have you made the mistake of believing, “everyone knows what I do?”
I am amazed that I still learn new things from members about their businesses and the services they offer. I have found myself a few times saying, “I didn’t know you did that,” only to be told by the group that the person has mentioned it many times before. We have the false idea that everyone is hanging on our every word when we talk, but sometimes the message takes repeating multiple times for members to remember.
For example, Kathy Keiper, one of our carpet cleaning people, mentioned to her group that one of their services included grout cleaning. When I asked her in front of the group why she never mentioned it before, they all let me know she had, and they all knew it. The funny thing is Kathy and I have been close friends for over 30-years and I thought I knew everything about her business. A few months later, someone mentioned they needed grout cleaning, and I had forgotten that Kathy did that service until she reminded me at another breakfast meeting…I won’t forget now!
Some before and after photos of a grout cleaning job would have cemented that she did that service into my brain at the first meeting. It is the same thing I tell the construction people at the breakfast meetings, bring before and after photos to show people how your services can enhance their property. Real Estate people could bring a pass out that shows how the real estate market is trending. We are all visual, and retain more information when we see it and hear about it.
When someone finds a networking group they want to join; they need to make a commitment to both time and energy. For instance, a one year period of time, where you are active in the group – attending events, joining committees, and conducting personal meetings with the members – would give you enough time to determine if the group is going to help your business grow. It takes this long a period to build trust, which means building relationships.
The bottom line is, it is like a bank, you have to put something in before you can expect to make a withdrawal. The only reason people leave our business networking organization is when they feel they are not getting a return on their time and/or money. If they were making more than enough to cover the costs of the SNG, they really wouldn’t leave, would they?
With the membership list increasing with each week, and with 325-members (and growing), there are a lot of opportunities in the SNG. It would be a shame to be leaving one of the best sources of business referrals.
So, one of my first questions to members who leave us is, what amount of effort did you put in? Did you go to the Website and actively look for Referral Partners? Did you have one-on-ones with those people, and did you have a quick meeting with each of your group members? Do you get to the breakfast meetings and events early to network, or do you show up after they start? Because, if they did all of those things, no one would have any issue with getting a Return-On-Investment of their time and money!
A lot of the people think they have attended enough events, and that everyone knows them. All the while, their competitors, from other groups, are showing up at events and eating their lunch. It is called, net-WORKING, for a reason! Just like keeping current at your business with your marketing, you need to treat your networking opportunities as a continuous function of your business.
If you are getting less referrals as the organization is getting bigger, and you want to know what the problem is, start by looking in the mirror; then make your adjustments. So, get focused on your networking…and keep swinging for the fences!
Make Our Events Work for YOU
Aren’t we all trying to find ways to add value, to build a more tangible presence? Isn’t the question your customers are asking, “What can you do that no one else can?” We become a, “must have,” by making ourselves unique not only in our business interactions with our clients, but in how we effect them personally! Isn’t that true? If it is not a relationship, it is just a transaction, and just about anyone can complete a transaction!
The more intimate we are with our clients, the stronger the relationship. Isn’t it harder for your competitors to steal your clients if you have taken the time to build a relationship? Think of it the other way; how many times have you lost a sale because your clients says, “Well, he is a friend of mine,” or “I golf with that guy,” or “I we are friends!”
How do you start to steal business away from your competitors, while shoring up your own clients so your competitors don’t eat your lunch? You start inviting your clients to do things with you.
Today, our lives are at a pretty fast pace, so how do you find time to build relationships with multiple people and still find the time for family? The challenge would be in finding the time to arrange for good events.
I believe in numbers; the more people I have to work with, the higher my income will be. It is just like cold calling, the more doors you knock on, the more sales you make. However, I don’t know about you, but I hate cold calling.
One of the ways to get warm calls is to get your current clientele to send or bring you more people to work with…they are called, referrals. How do you do that? A lot of people take two or three people to a ball game. To see 15 of your clients, you would have to go to five ball games. It would get expensive, and seeing someone once doesn’t really do the job.
I have come to realize that some of the tools we have at our disposal through the SNG need to be explained. While they are things I have done forever, I feel they are a new idea for some of the members. Today, I want to talk about how you can make the events we have work for you. I want to share with you the big picture.
I built my business on events. Some members think the events put on by the SNG are only for connecting with fellow SNG Members. That is one reason, but if that is where your thinking ends, you are missing the bigger picture. If you are not inviting clients to the events, you are missing the greatest opportunity to build and protect your clientele.
TREAT OUR EVENTS AS . . . YOUR OWN
Why not tell people that YOU put together an event, and bring YOUR clients and friends. All the work has been done so every SNG Member can get the most benefit out of the SNG. For example, we can reserve tables of 8-10 or more at the Comedy Castle for YOUR group. People are just not getting the most out of their SNG Membership because they are not thinking efficiently.
For instance, why can’t you contact your people and tell them that YOU have made arrangements for them to attend the Comedy Castle for only $5; you have seats reserved, and want them to enjoy an evening out seeing a great comedian! How do you think your clients would feel about you . . . better, or worse?
If you were to call up your clients and say, “I am helping put on an event tonight at a great facility, the food is free you just have to pay for drinks, and you might be able to drum up some business!” You have to ask yourself, would that help build a closer relationship?
SNG TIGER CLUB DAYS
Instead of 15 clients to 5 ball games, take the same 15 clients six times to sit in the prestigious Tiger Club on a $14 ticket. Your clients will buy you lunch or dinner, as they do for me; they are just thrilled that they got invited.
I never pay for my clients. I have had up to 125 people at the Tiger Club, and it didn’t cost me a dime. How did I do it? I asked others to bring people. A number of the people who came to the Tiger Club events became financial clients of mine and SNG Members.
Communicating our events to your business friends couldn’t be easier; all you have to do is forward our emails with your personal note added at the top.
Let me give you the best example of what I am talking about. It is the, SNG! We started with five people sitting around a table for breakfast, but we also started planning fun events so each of us could invite as many people as we wanted. With all of us working together to fill the room, it didn’t take long to build an organization. As we built the organization, we became closer friends, and the more people we built around us, the more business we all did.
The SNG will make you look good. When your clientele sees the group of people you travel in, don’t you think it would set you apart? It does for me, I get a lot of respect from running the SNG…it is nothing more than a large group of people in one place.
I have taken the time to arrange for the events, so that part of the work is already done for you. You simply have to get your own group of people together to come to our events and ask them to bring a certain number of friends. I am sure you have all done something like this at one point or another…just start doing it consistently!
The absolute BEST part of your SNG Membership is that we do the planning and arranging for you to interact with your client base. People go on Websites for pre-made templates. This is the ultimate pre-made template to build your business. That, and breakfast, for only $40 per month…it is a steal!
Bringing people to events is called, building multiple relationships in the shortest period of time, with the least amount of effort. If you are NOT inviting people to participate, you are missing a golden opportunity for success!
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE SNG
- Set appointments with members to learn more about what they do, and to explain your services in more detail.
- Bring brochures or information about your company or services to each breakfast to further educate the members and guests about what you offer.
- Focus on features and benefits of those features, when you talk about what you have to offer. Say something different about your business at each breakfast. No one will know what kind of people to refer to you until they understand what you do.
- Make it perfectly CLEAR what type of leads you are looking for. We think just because we understand what we do, and what we are looking for, that everyone else knows our business, as well. Remember, they focus on their business, and you are requesting them to briefly focus on yours!
- Get to the breakfasts early to meet the guests, and start a dialogue with current members.
- Sit in a different place each breakfast. People are creatures of habit, they generally sit in the same spot each breakfast. I can almost tell you where everyone will be sitting before they enter the room. Don’t be like those people, by moving around you will be exposing yourself to new introductions. Trust me, the more people in the SNG you get to know; the better will be your experience. Get the most out of your membership!
- Plan on staying at least half an hour after the breakfast, you would be surprised how may people stay to talk. It is a good time to plan on targeting a couple of people to build alliances with before they rush out the door.
- Attend every extra function, there are usually not more then one every month or two. But, these extra events give you time to get to know other people in the group, and every member could know at least one person who can help you be successful.
- Get a camera! When you attend the events, take pictures, download them (or get the photos on disks from a photo company), and then email them out. Everyone loves pictures of themselves, and it will be just another reason for them to think of you.
- Offer specials and discounts to members to use. Also, let them pass those discounts onto their family, friends, and clients. It helps the members to remember, “INOAGUY”.
- Give first, and expect second. By giving leads to a member, you have a right to expect that member to reciprocate. If they don’t, ask them why. Maybe it is because they don’t fully know what you do, and there is then no better time to describe your services and the type of leads YOU are looking for.
- Get in the habit of listening for people to state a need, and then follow up with, “’INOAGUY’ (GAL) who can help you!”