This month BizNets
Networking Connection Says:
|This month BizNet Online Magazine is going to take a break from highlighting a networking group and talk about some of the dos and donts of networking.|
The first rule of networking in a room full of people is dont go around lying! Now, you would think this would go without saying, but you would be surprised. I just came from a networking function were a new member of this group stood up and told nothing but lies about why you should hire his firm and not his competition. He talked about having the right licenses for his work, belonging to trade organizations, and even passed out a brochure full of mis-information. Now all this made him look and sound good to everyone who did not know he was ... well, full of it. Being an adviser to the trade group he claimed to be a member of, I knew he was full of it. Now the trade group is on his case. They have notified the proper agencies about his unlicensed status, and the networking group he is part of has been notified. So, while he did look good at first, now everyone in that room will quickly learn that he was full of it. By lying he sought to build his company. In one morning he destroyed it and his reputation.
The second thing to remember is that just because someone is in a Networking group does not mean that they know their business. As the above points out, you can find a bad business person anywhere. So just like when you meet a business person on the street, check them out before you do business with them. Get references and ask around about them. One of the best ways to check out a business is to call directory assistance. You know 411 on you phone. Try it, you will be surprised how many so called business dont have a listed phone number. Why? Because an under financed business will use a residential phone as a business phone. So they dont have a phone in their businesses name. Would you want to do business with someone that cant afford a business phone? This is also a way to find out that a business is using an answering service and a mail box company for their business phone and address. Oh, and for gosh sakes, dont go recommending your clients to anyone without checking them out. If you refer your customers to a flake youre going to lose customers.
This brings us to Number 3 on the hit parade. Consistency. Yes, just one word, consistency. This means, dont go to an ongoing event just one or two times or now and then, and expect to get business. You will need to show up 3 to 4 times and consecutively before you really start to see results. Why? Because true networkers know the flakes usually dont stick it out for more than 2 meetings or are too flaky to make a steady commitment to show up regularly. So once they see youre committed, and will be a consistent member of the group, they will open up to you. They have seen you more than two times, gotten to talk to you and now feel more comfortable in referring business to you.
So lets see whats next, (other than the number 4). Yes, its Leads, or referrals! As above, do not expect to just walk into a room for the first time and get a handful of leads. Networking is building relationships, and that takes time. Get to know the other businesses in the room. Ask lots of questions about the nature of their business and their customers. After learning about them, talk about yourself. When you get a lead, treat it as a valuable piece of information. Dont lose the information. It can literally be a golden opportunity. So follow up on it quickly. Keep the person that gave you the lead informed. Let them know if you are able to help the person or not. Did you get the job or not? If there was a problem with the lead, let them know. Oh, and dont forget to say thank you. Saying thank you may seem like a little thing, but when you give someone a lead and you never hear a thank you, it is annoying, and remembered. Now on giving leads. Please dont just give leads out to give them out. Make sure the opportunity is really there. If you give out leads that are not really opportunities, you are just wasting your time, and everyone elses time, and thats insulting. Now lets talk about one last thing, paying for leads. Personally I believe that paying or being paid for leads is wrong. I believe leads should be given because the opportunity is real and the person receiving the lead is extremely reliable and good at what they do. If you turn one of your customers over to someone in a lead, and your customer becomes unhappy with the work done, do you want to say:
1) Sorry about that but they paid me for your name.
2) Im very sorry it did not work out. I believed they did good work and heard good things about them. Thank you for letting me know about the problems you had. I will never refer them to anyone again.
Lets face it, your customer is mad that they got bad service from the company you referred them to; do you think theyre going to like you if they hear you made money on the deal?
Also, do you want to get leads because youre good at what you do, or because you pay the biggest bounty for names? Again, what do you think will happen when the customer finds out they were referred to you only because you paid someone?
Now, if someone gives you a lead that makes you some big buck, you can do more then just say thanks. You can pick up the tab at lunch. Send them a gift/thank you basket. I think you get the idea. So lets get out there and Network!