Must-Have Marketing Mix Elements: Networking
Previously, I wrote about the importance of having a marketing mix and determining your top 3 effective marketing tactics to focus on. Today I want to expand on one of my favorites–networking.
First, it's important to really understand what business networking is. A good definition would be "the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities."
I believe the key idea here is "building/maintaining relationships." Yet this is where so many people go wrong with networking–they go into it first with the attitude of "getting."
Just as with building a personal relationship with someone, you want to be able to make the person you are trying to befriend feel like they are important and that you're not making friends with them just to get something. Have you ever felt like someone was trying to be your friend just to get something from you, or that they were always asking you for things (or money)? That didn't feel very good, did it?
Yet, I see and hear people talk all the time about how they tried going to some networking events and never "got" anything from them. A few times I would ask one of these people how many referrals they gave to others that they met at these meetings and they gave me a blank stare or said "none."
"You can get everything you want in life by helping enough people
get what they want." — Zig Ziglar
There's a great book by Bob Burg and John D. Mann called "The Go-Giver." It is a teaching book in story form in which the character learns Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, the first three of which involve giving and being of service to others. (I would highly recommend you add it to your reading list this year). Be sincerely curious about people and what they do, ask them questions, and get together with them outside of the networking group to chat one on one (at which time you can share more about what you do). Creating supportive and giving relationships with others and maintaining them over time is how to approach and make networking work for you.
Aside from this one main mindset rule about networking, here are a few more practical tips to help you:
1. Bring a small notepad to jot down information you gather, such as people you'd like to follow up with to connect with individually, personal notes about someone that you gathered and could comment on when you meet again, something you promised to send to or do for someone, referral ideas to share with someone, etc.
2. Succinctly tell people what you do and who you help. Make sure you have a 30- to 60-second "infomercial" or "hook" to easily share whenever you are at a networking event that helps people quickly understand who and how you help people or piques their curiosity to learn more.
3. Ask questions of the other person—be curious and engaging. People love being paid attention to and to feel like they are being heard.
4. Be a connector. Make introductions to others you know who could help those you meet. In other words, GIVE REFERRALS to ideal clients or other connectors.
5. Follow up. Have a system for recording the people you meet and “re-touching” them in a way that is personalized (such as sending a card or an article or link to something that you think would be of interest to them based on what you've learned about them; even a birthday card is memorable and makes people appreciate you.
Continually assess your "networking"–the places you network and the people you are building relationships with–for ROI (return on investment). If you are following these networking rules consistently and accurately, but not getting any referrals within 3 months, it might be time to move on to other groups or people, especially if you are regularly giving referrals. On the flip side, if you see your "bread getting buttered" with certain people or groups, increase your time and efforts with them.
Do you need help getting ideal clients and making more money with less effort and more fun? Schedule a complimentary MMM Strategy Session with me to identify which of the three keys of creating a successful business you are missing–Marketing, Mindset or Manifesting principles–and IMMEDIATE steps to take so you can get more clients and make a difference in more lives!
Your partner in success,
Marketing, Mindset & Manifesting Coach