Seeking the group that is best for you?  Consider these points:

Looking into the old E-Mail bag, we have been getting a lot of requests from folks that have woken up to networking regarding how to find the group that is right for them.

We always give them the same answer and that is to check out the story we ran way back in 97, written by a great NetWorker and guest writer.  Jonathan Rich.

What can we say, good advice is timeless, so here it is folks:

This month we bring you some thoughts on networking from Jonathan P. Rich. Jonathan is an extremely active NetWorker in the greater Los Angeles area. When not Networking Jonathan is busy running his two businesses, specializing in Promotional Items and Binders.

Seeking the group that is best for you?  Consider these points:

There are many networking opportunities. Vertical groups (usually a trade association with commonality of purpose), horizontal groups that are a good mixture, political groups, exclusivity groups (only allow one person to attend from a particular trade or industry). There are membership organizations that require a membership fee and those that do not.

Networking meetings can be costly in time and money. Determining the best value is extremely important to get the most return on your investment.  Follow these suggestions to get the best value. Your results will show!

Monitor the energy level of the group. Is everyone happy being there? Is attending a chore or a necessity for them?

Determine where your money goes when you join a group; make sure your fees are for tax deductible services.

Are you willing to accept the rules and requirements of the group? !

Relationship marketing -- building a successful network

If you have a generation or two you can educate your customer, much the way apple computer did by placing their products in the schools. As time is an irreplaceable commodity you must develop a high-impact plan - a plan requiring less time - and more cost efficient - than anything used in the past.

Experience is our feedback. There are excellent methods of marketing that fall between generational and instant success. Change is not a choice! It is necessitated by the current - and projected - economic climate. Today, it is essential to build and maintain a relationship with your prospect, customer or client. As their comfort level builds with you, they will prefer to use your product or service. If they can't use the product or service, they are much more willing to offer a 'third party endorsement in recommending you to others in their sphere of influence.

All things being equal, people would rather do business with people they know! The hidden value of networking.

 

People who are desperate for a sale will not work to develop the relationship; they will not display the consistency nor the follow-up - so important in showing your stability in business and reliability of service. To re-focus our vision for the next decade - it is absolutely essential that you determine the demographics of the market. Not just the people you want but the people who are buying your product or service. This is the selection process. Unless you're a mass merchandiser, you want to qualify your customer base to get the quality you seek rather than volume or quantity. In essence: think strategy.

Lead generation is essential in any business. Some people place fishbowls in an exhibit space to collect cards in drawing for a television set. Do these people put their cards in the bowl because of an interest in your product or service?  Or, because they want to win a TV set?

Tip:  when you establish a lead generation program, think it out. Your time is valuable - time is an irreplaceable resource! Lead generation giveaways are a waste of another valuable resource: money! Remember - never giveaway that which you sell as an inducement to buy it. By giving it away you establish its true value.

If you select your client/customer rather than their selecting you, you will reduce the number of false leads (non-performers, tire-kickers, lookie-lou's, freebie-collectors, etc.) you get. Instead - go after the good prospects - those who have a need for your product or service. Whether by their inquiry or those prospects you have targeted in your demographics survey, they are in your front line as customers. Building relationships is vital to all successful businesses today!

Tips for successful networking

Arrive early at networking venues - stay in the front and help greet people instead of just sitting down - plan to stay late.

When you are with a friend, associate or another, don’t ‘hang’ with them or sit together - divide & conquer!

Bring sufficient business cards & promotional materials. Business cards should let the reader know your product or service. Cards at $20.00 per 1000 should be thrown away if there are changes. Never cross out or write in a change on your cards!

Carry your materials in a professional appearing case. Look professional!

Dress well - image counts - There aren’t many opportunities to make a second ‘first impression"! It goes without saying - you should be clean, neat and odor free (Includes alcoholic breath and B. O.). Women: avoid overpowering scents, bulky, unattractive purses & worn shoes.

Wear the name badge on your right side.

When you meet someone for the first time, exchange business cards, repeat their name and listen to them. Ask questions that encourage responses that give good information. Say your name at least twice.

After listening you can then tailor your response with a ‘you benefit’ (for them - not you)’ Possibly an idea, a strategy or a contact that would benefit their business.

It’s the quality, not the quantity of the networking that counts!

Have prepared 10, 20 and 30 second ‘commercials’ about your business.

You never know when you will be called on to ‘advertise’.

When you lose the focus of your mission, you lose your audience.

Wearing multiple hats confuses your prospect.

Build a relationship to look beyond a quick sale. Listen to others when they speak. Relate to them; an individual may not need your product or service but if they are comfortable with you, they may 'third-party endorse' you or allow you to access the next dimension in your relationship.

Look for business, opportunity & growing your team - not just a sale.

When you are desperate, or vulnerable - don’t show it!

When you meet someone for the first time, spend some time with them - usually three minutes. If there is observable potential, set up a meeting for later (lunch, office). If you are new ask the person to introduce you to someone else - if they are new, offer to introduce them to another. Don’t monopolize.

If there is a speaker - introduce yourself - make him/her feel comfortable and welcomed. You will be remembered.

Remember- all things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they know. So keep building those relationships!
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