Referral Month. Part 3.
How to Network Effectively - It's An Ongoing Process
As you well know, June is “Referral Month” at Business Benchmark Group. Already, we’ve seen our community generate 37 Ideal Target Market referrals for their businesses. We have a target to achieve a total of 200 for our entire community, so we’re well on track!
So far this month, I’ve been sharing a series of articles about how to build an effective referral strategy in your business. Last week, I discussed how to begin building your network – where do you start? Who is already in your network? After all, your network is your net worth.+
And in our podcast this week, I also shared an overview of the entire process – but today I want to continue getting deeper and more detailed about “How to network”.
When you begin networking, the first thing you need to do is work out what you actually want to achieve.
What is the gap you want to fill?
When I am out and about networking, I find it astounding that most people I meet seem to be giving up their valuable time without any real purpose or a plan.
In fact if I asked 99% of the people I see networking, I am certain that they would only be able to tell me that they are looking for potential new business on the basis that you never know who you meet.
Now, I cannot fault this too much because if you are out and about looking for business you are streets ahead of the other 99% who are sitting at home hoping that some more business will come their way.
Last week, I discussed some activities you need to do in order to know exactly the type of business we’re looking for.
Now, it’s time to work out exactly what the gap is that we want to bridge.
Let’s say you’re turning over $1.5m and you want to grow to $2.25m.
- What is your average $ sale?
- Divide your average $ sale by the gap that you want to achieve: In this case $750,000.
- This gives you the number of leads that you are want to generate with your strategy.
- Example: If your average $ sale was $10,000 you will need 75 new clients.
In most cases you will discover that there are several different layers of clients that you work with: Large, medium and small. So you need to look at how many new clients you need in each categories.
Once you are very clear as to who you’re looking for, and how many of them, you need to break this down and work out what your networking and referral strategy needs to be for you to hit your target.
The importance of networking…
Networking is for everyone, and it’s essential that every business owner must master it. Yes, if you want to be successful in the game of business you must master the art of networking.
There is an expression that 'your network is your net worth', and there is some great truth to that. All successful people have strong and healthy networks of people that support them in all sorts of ways in their business.
Your network can deliver you clients, employees, suppliers and more. First is your network, then you can ask your network for referrals. It's a chicken and egg situation.
My story in London…
Time for a little story that demonstrates how everyone can learn to love networking and the power that it gives to any business.
Once upon a time I ran a pick-up and delivery dry cleaning business in London - and I was nearly destroyed by the experience! At the time, I didn’t know anybody else who was running a business and all of my friends spent more time asking me why I was doing what I was doing (which I was doubting enough anyway), and I had no support group to help me work through the highs and lows of running a business.
When I sold the business, I was introduced to a networking group that met every month and was designed to help thirty-something entrepreneurs build their network.
At the time I had never been networking, and always saw myself as a shy person and frankly had always hated the idea of networking. I’m sure this sounds familiar to many of you!
However, I knew on some level that I had to do this, I had to learn to overcome my fear and master this thing called networking.
So off I went to this group full of trepidation, and at the first event all I did was go, listened to the speaker and then I left and ran off home.
At the second event I went, listened to the speaker, spoke to the one person that was speaking to no one else and went home.
At the third event, I went and met more people. Eventually this group and the network that I had built by attending helped me launch several business ideas that I would never have had the confidence or the contacts to achieve by myself.
Now let me make this clear: I am an introvert. The last thing that I naturally enjoy doing is entering a room full of people where I know nobody.
I have an amazing wife who loves doing that sort of thing - there is nothing that she enjoys more than meeting a whole bunch of people that she has never met before.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve learned that what I need to do to be able to work a room full of strangers. Yes, it is work – and you can LEARN how to make work for you.
Throughout Referral Month, I hope you will also be able to learn what you need to do in order to be able to put these lessons into practice in your own life. This requires you to break through your comfort zone and practice, practice, practice until you finally master the art of networking.
What form of networking is going to work best for you?
Before you start thinking that you have to go out and meet a whole bunch of strangers, let’s first look at what you want to achieve, then work out what networks you already have (you will likely already have plenty of opportunities, and your existing networks will likely deliver all the new contacts that you will ever need – as long as you’ve mastered the networking game).
The next step is to review the networking options that are open to you. The good news is that there are extremely limited options:
1. Circle of Influence (see my previous article – Your Network is your Net Worth!)
2. Strategic Alliance: Those who share a target market with you, and those who will help you to meet your target market
3. Networking events: events where your target market will be present
4. Online/Social: social networks that will connect you to your target market
Summary So Far:
So here’s a summary of what you need to know when networking:
- Go inside first - leverage who you know already.
- You must understand exactly the gap that you want to fill – what type of clients do you need, and how many of them?
- Know where to meet your target market: events (high yielding), partners, online social networks, etc.
- Know what you are looking for, and ask for it, otherwise you will be wasting your time. How many times have you been to networking events and seen people who are just randomly walking around?
- Practice makes perfect: the more you go, the more you will learn. Test, measure and refine
- Aim to be 1% better every time
For most people, networking is not easy to begin with and there's sure to be a whole lot of headtrash going through your head right now making excuses as to why networking isn’t right for you.
Just recognise that is occurring, and be sure to tune in next week where I will be exploring how to deal with your head trash, so you can take action and build your networking skills.
We will explore the type of headtrash that always shows up, and give you strategies to push through it. After all, your network is the fuel for your referral strategy.
Till next week!
Senior Strategist - Business Benchmark Group
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Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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