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56% of top tricks to win business from networking

January 31, 2012

9 0f 16 tricks to win business through networking clubs

To generate business from a business networking club takes time, money and effort. To help you get the greatest ROI in a business networking club, here is our guide to making the most of it.

By Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.

19 August 2010 in Real Business Magazine

3. Give it time

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they’ll instantly generate referrals and leads when they join a business networking club. You may be lucky, but the members of the club need to know, like and trust you before they will pass business your way. Plan on not getting any referrals from your business networking club for three months. If you have a high priced service or product, it could take longer than three months to generate your first referral.

4. Work hard to find opportunities for other members

BNI call it “Givers Gain” – and this is the mindset that a successful networker will always be on the lookout for opportunities for others. If you have this mindset, then business almost always follows. The person within the group who works the hardest to find opportunities for the other members is probably also receiving the most amount of opportunities back.

5. Be specific in your requests

It sounds slightly illogical, but the more specific you can be with your requests of the group, the more likely members of the group will be able to help. For example, if you say “I’m looking for local businesses who would like to save money”, you are unlikely to get a response, as every business owner needs to save money. If you say, “I’m looking for local businesses who are looking to move premises, and want to save money on their legal bills”, you’ll be more likely to get response

10. Listen and take an interest

When you join a business networking club, first impressions are important. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, the other members will be wondering whether you will fit in and whether you will be an asset to the club. One of the best ways to help create a positive first impression and generate trust from the existing members is to listen to them and take a very active interest in them and their business. Your business requirements and needs come second. (A good networker will always ask you how they can help your business.)

Even if you have gotten up very early to go business networking, do take the time to listen carefully to everyone’s 60-second slots. The members will then be more likely to listen to your 60-second slot too

11. Treat the business networking club as if it’s your best client

Ideally your networking club needs to become your unpaid sales force. How much time would you spend on nurturing a potential sales force of 10-40 members? Be prepared to put in significant time and effort into your business networking club. This investment will start to pay off as soon as they know how to spot an opportunity for your business, and want to tell you about it. This doesn’t happen magically all by itself just because you’ve become a member. Therefore, take the time to be visible to your group members and actively find them opportunities and referrals. Normally, this will prompt reciprocation from the members of your business networking club.

12. Be confident in your ability to deliver on your business’s promises

When someone in the business club gives you a referral, they are putting their name and reputation on the line for you. Before anyone will be prepared do that, they need to be confident and trust that you will deliver on what you say you are going to do. They will only get this confidence from how you speak about your business, you doing what you say you are going to do, and the success you have had with your business.

13. Turn up regularly

To generate a referral from a member of the club, you need to have achieved “top-of-mind” status with them. This means that when they hear about a problem or meet a client or contact, they think about you and how you could possible help this person. For example, if you’re a member of a busines networking club which meets monthly, then if you miss one meeting, it will be two months before you get an opportunity to see the rest of the club. This is more than enough time to forget about you and your business.

14. Help the members identify a potential source of business for you

Business networking clubs can often attract members from all different walks of life. Indeed many business networking clubs have a “exclusive” profession policy that only allows one member from each profession. The members of the club will not know your business as intimately as you do. Therefore, you need to educate the membership on what an ideal lead or referral for you looks like. They need to be able to spot the signs that someone could be a source of business for you. For example, if you’re a private client solicitor whose practice has a conveyancing speciality, you need the members of the club to know that your firm is great at helping people who are thinking of moving house.

15. Don’t sell directly to the club members

Those people who generate a large proportion of business from business networking clubs have cottoned onto the fact that you need to sell through the room, not to the room. Whilst there may be potential clients within the room, your aim should be to “recruit” the members of your club to be your unpaid sales force.

16. Bring along guests

Guests can be a valuable source of referrals and business for all the members of the group. Do take your time to ask people in your network to join you at your business networking meeting.

Full article – all 16 Top Tips HERE

About

At Real Business, we inspire and help enterprising people solve problems, by connecting you with other growing business leaders, entrepreneurs and owner-managers.

The champion of UK enterprise for nearly 15 years, Real Business is a digital, print and events brand for small to medium-sized businesses looking for insight, analysis, opinion, advice and inspiration.

RealBusiness.co.uk is a trusted news source to more than 75,000 unique users per month; the magazine (which Luke Johnson, founder of Risk Capital Partners, describes as “the best British read for entrepreneurs”) is read by more than 41,000 CEOs, MDs and owner-managers across the UK; and events such as the Entrepreneurs’ Summit and Growing Business Awards bring together some of the UK’s most high-profile, influential entrepreneurs and business champions.

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