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!
Copyright Wayne A. Curto 2019