Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Why creating your networking plan BEFORE you attend your next industry event makes great sense!

February 1, 2013

Why is it that some people always get great results at networking events and others just seem to flounder from person to person and never appear to get results?

My research has shown that people who create a networking plan BEFORE they arrive at the industry event, definitely achieve far greater results than the ones who just show up.

A networking plan may differ from person to person – but here is a basic outline that may work for you. Feel free to adjust to suit your desired outcomes.


To really maximise your results and return on attendance, it is wise to allocate 15-30 minutes to plan your strategy as soon as you register for the event. During this preparation time, answer/complete the following:

1. Who would you like to meet at this event with a view to building a strong connection with them in the future? Ideally list at least 3-5 people.

2. Beside the 3-5 names write a specific reason why you want to meet that person.

3. Is there anything that you could do prior to that event to ensure that you make the connection productive?

e.g. If you know the person reasonably well maybe a quick phone call to them to check if they are going to the event and the reason for wanting to meet them. You might even suggest that you meet with them 15 minutes before the official start of the event. Or they may be able to spare 15 minutes at the end of the event.

b. If you don’t know a lot about the person/people – can you spend time on their website or their LinkedIn profile to get to know a little more about them? Look for common interests and mutual connections. Make a note of these points.

c. Can you send  a LinkedIn inmail introducing yourself to them and mentioning the event and indicating you will introduce yourself to them?

d. Finally Google the person and see if there is additional information that may assist you to start a conversation or make a stronger connection.

Often when I suggest this preparation strategy, my audiences groan and tell me they don’t have time, why bother, blah, blah, blah…..My response is always, if you are wanting to build a connection with someone and you know very little about them, you have to start somewhere. The least you can do is pay them the courtesy of doing your  homework before you meet them.

If you had the opportunity to “pitch” to them in a formal meeting, it is highly unlikely that you would not prepare for that meeting. So consider this preparation advance research. Why would they remotely consider doing business with you when you have not done your research around their industry or them?

e. Prepare a couple of questions that you could ask some of those people.

e.g. John, my name is Brian Johnson, we have not met before, but I was very interested in the quote you made about the XYZ project, may I ask you………..?

Susan, my name is Brian Johnson, we have not met before, but I saw where your company was a finalist in the ABC awards, may I ask what being a finalist was like for you?

f. An important step with your preparation is deciding before you attend the networking event, how to stay connected post event with these key players. You have many options here from emails, inmails with LI, a follow up note, an invitation to  another event, sending an article or a web link, a phone call – what will work best for that key contact? The more you know about the person, the easier it becomes to pick the most suitable follow up strategy. One size does not fit all here.

g. Finally how will you measure your results? Very few people walk away from an industry event with a million dollar order. It happens, but not every time. However, many people walk away with potential million dollar contacts and they never follow up or keep in touch.

Think about the dollar investment to attend industry and business networking events and memberships for the next 12 months. You might be surprised at the total investment. Why not give my suggestions a trial for the next 3 events that you are planning to attend? What have you got lose?

Remember, every best friend was once a perfect stranger!

Happy networking until next time.



January 2, 2013

As the new year dawns many people review their year – both positives and negatives –

What worked well?

What didn’t work at all?

What do you wish you had more time for?

What will you make more time for in the next 12 months?

Yet when it comes to face to face networking, if you are taking one year to review your activity – you are potentially missing lots of opportunities. Or even worse, continuing to do something that is really not working for you.

One thing I know for sure is that master networkers can make decisions quickly and accept or decline potential networking invitations in a heartbeat.

So let’s look at the decision making tips that some master networkers use on receipt of an invitation. Let’s face it – today the chances of getting a hard copy invitation via snail mail are very rare.

The standard invitation format today is sent via email, twitter, a forwarded link, meet-up, LinkedIn, Facebook, You Tube or a dedicated website. You may print off the invitation or just give it a quick scan. Let’s look the main things that grab your attention:

1. Attention compelling email header/opening sentence or event title. If the sender has targeted their marketing to a specific demographic (that includes you) you will probably move to point 2. If you are not remotely the target market, the delete button looms.

2. Your interest has been sparked – tell me more – What is the date? Where is it being held? What is the time frame? Who else will be there? Some readers will delete the invitation at this point if the location, date or time does not match their availability. If it does you may move to point 3.

3. Why should I go? What are the benefits of attending? Who else is going? Good copy can clinch the deal here or at least get you to move to the action step – point 4.

4. How much is it? Very quickly we weigh up the risk of wasting that amount of money on a bad event versus the potential benefits to be gained if you enjoy the event and get to network with the potential participants.

The definition for bad event may vary from person to person. Some may define a bad event as a poorly organised event where nothing was planned, the event started late with no real structure and everyone was left to their own devices. Sometimes a case of promise great – deliver lousy.

Yet for others the informality may be just what they love the most. Many people have a “dollar meter” that they are prepared to risk. “Well it’s only $50, so if I don’t like it, I can leave – it’s not a huge amount of money.” Someones else’s “dollar meter” might be $1,000 – it totally depends on the demographic, the event and the potential benefits.

Many people today attend a free event knowing full well that although theoretically it is FREE – there is a big chance there will be a heavy and very persuasive sell throughout the event for another event/course. All of this as the delete button looms and we quickly make a decision – yes, no or maybe.

So let’s put on a master networker’s hat when we look at the next invitation we receive. In addition to the above 4 points, the master networker has done their pre-event homework weeks before. They have decided that in this quarter, they are looking to attend networking events – local, nationally or internationally where:

a. Their specific potential prospect demographic is located. e.g. you are a recruitment firm specialising in finding candidates for banking and finance organisations. So you will definitely plan to attend the high $$ ticket events where your banking and finance decision makers flock. This might be a state or national conference, a post budget breakfast or maybe even a charity fundraiser that their organisation supports. Their marketing budget would include attendance at these events. Stricly speaking the higher the cost of the ticket, the more senior the level of decision maker attending the event. e.g. if the event is a $275.00 AFR lunch, it is highly unlikely you will find the personal assistant or support staff in attendance. But you will find a number of senior managers there. Yes they are there for the speaker/information/panel as well as the opportunity to network with their peers, competitors and prospects.

b. Their current client base are regulars at these events. Today once the business is secured, in some professions there is no need for regular contact with the client by the original negotiator – your team are the ones making contact. However, it is always a healthy networking habit to run into/reconnect with your client from time to time at social or business networks. You are reconnecting with them, updating yourself on what is happening in their world, not just professionally but also personally (when appropriate), and supporting their networks as well.

c. Lapsed clients are also in the master networkers radar for this quarter. So they will make an effort to show up at networking events where they can run into lapsed clients. Past clients are lapsed for all sorts of reasons, e.g. they only require your product or services occasionally, you blew it – they gave you a chance and you stuffed up at that point in time with your product or service, complacency may have also set in and you lost their business because you stopped valuing their business. Often in an informal networking situation lapsed clients or more than happy to discuss doing business again – or highlighting to you, why that will never be possible. At least you will know. And face to face you will be able to get to that much faster than over the phone or email.

So why can master networkers make decisions quickly about whether they will invest time, money and energy attending a networking event or not? The answer is simple – they have a networking plan – their a, b and c target is very clear, they also know why they want to network with them and in what location and they have allocated a networking budget.

Finally, they are great delegators. Yes they will attend the AFR lunch with the $275 ticket, but they might encourage their PA and support staff to take a table at the $55.00 breakfast and invite some of their client’s PA’s as well. In this way they are strengthening their networks within their client’s organisation and drilling down with cross networking staff members. And their senior team and support staff know that there is a marketing budget available if they see an event that would be a great networking opportunity for their firm. They are encouraged and more than welcome to flick the invitation to the manager with 3 reasons why they think it would be great for them to attend and maybe take a couple of clients along as well. Their requests are rarely declined – because they use their system. And all the team are aware of the firm’s a, b and c networking targets. These targets are for the team, not just one individual.

Master networkers have systems – they measure their return on attendance at every event they or their team attend. The result’s measurement includes immediate (1 week) short term (30-60 days) and long term (90-120 days).

The reality today is that your return on attendance networking events is often NOT immediate. However, you have made the connection, extended your network, reconnected or reacquainted yourself with a prospect at an event and followed up with your contacts post event. The worst thing you can do in 2013 is only attend a networking ONCE! You must go back to that network to continue to build your profile, reconnect with those you met and expand your network.

Sometimes you meet someone and at that point in time they are a 9 out of 10 prospect for you. In their world, you are a 5 out of 10 – “one day I will use that person’s services, just not today”. Attending a network a second time, will increase your chances of getting your return on attendance.

Have a brilliant 2013 – and remember networking can open every door for you – you just have to know what you want, why you want it and how you are going to make it happen.

Have fun networking until next time!

It’s a small world after all!

November 4, 2012

Six degrees of separation is finished!

Long live two degrees of separation – in today’s global market place. Let me share an amazing story with you. Last week I presented to the team at Mondo Direct, a leading recruitment firm in North Sydney. When I arrived, the CEO, Simone Allan mentioned that she had run into someone I knew last week – Alban – also in recruitment. I mentioned that I had a LinkedIn message from Alban the day before.

Apparently, Simone and Alban were both attending a conference in Shanghai and happened to be in a hotel lift together and started to chat –  as you do….. The topic of networking was mentioned and Alban (who is based in Singapore) said that he had learned a  lot about networking from Robyn Henderson, a woman who presented a few years ago to the recruitment company he was working with at that time in Sydney.

Simone’s response – “I know Robyn, she is speaking to our team next Tuesday in Sydney.” Can you believe that? What are the chances of a conversation in Shanghai between two people who knew me (and I worked out I was in Tweed Heads at that time) – chatting about something I was doing in North Sydney.

Tweed Heads – Shanghai – Singapore – North Sydney – true networking in our global marketplace

Closer to home, I regularly watch the sunrise on my morning walks and hopefully see a whale or two, though the season is almost over, so the whales are few and far between this week. Point Danger is a beautiful headland between Snapper Rocks and Duranbah Beach and has a great view of the horizon and is a fantastic whale spotting location. Yesterday I was walking past Point Danger and stopped to chat to a photographer I had spoken to a couple of times previously. Whales were few and far between and he mentioned that he puts his photos on flickr – and had taken some great cloud photos that morning.

We chatted away as you do on an early Sunday morning and I said I would check out his photos which I did later that day. They were excellent and as an amateur photographer, I thought I must look at some of his earlier shots and see if they were always as good as they are now. So I randomly flicked back through his photo library and there were many brilliant nature images.  Then I saw a photo of my Kingscliff hairdresser, who had told me ages ago about a  trek he did through Tasmania and Cradle Mountain. Amazingly,  Larry the photographer and Trevor the hairdresser were on the same Tasmanian trek.

Those two degrees of separation are at it again.

In my networking presentations I often say that no one wears a sign dangling from their ears or their wrist with a list of all the people that they know. If they did, you could then know before you even start a conversation, the reason for connecting with them.

The randomness of networking is what really makes networking exciting. Two strangers meet, share a general conversation and then indirectly find they have mutual connections, shared interests or knowledge. Trust is built through communication and when there is a third party connection and sometimes almost an endorsement of that person, you are inclined to trust them that much more.

Bill Gates  calls this the trilogy of trust, the trust that one person has in another that is passed on to a third party. We certainly do live in a very small world.

Chances conversations not only expand your network but also make you realise how small the world really is today. Can I encourage you to speak to at least one total stranger every day? You will be surprised who you meet.  And always remember that every best was once a perfect stranger.

Happpy networking until next time.

What is on your life of choice sheet?

September 9, 2012

One of my favourite Saturday activities, after my morning walk, is reading multiple newspapers over breakfast.  Yes I know I can read newspapers  online or on an I pad – but I really enjoy the mental stimulation and relaxation of reading my way through the national and local papers. There is something about turning those pages that I enjoy. Go figure, I guess that’s why I also like reading actual books rather than ebooks – but that’s another conversation. Admittedly I love living on the far north coast of NSW, and sometimes I feel it is like living in a bubble, when you are not exposed to many of the national and international happenings in the local paper. So Saturday is my day for a news catch up, what did I miss this week and what is happening in the world that may impact significantly on my profession, my future plans and my clients’ worlds? I do read three newspapers every day, but Saturday is the big five newspaper days.  And I for one, will be very sad when the day comes when actual hard copy newspapers are discontinued. But I digress.

In the Sydney Morning Herald 8.9.12 – there was an interesting article by Marcus Padley – headed – Only 250,624 hours left! It’s time to prioritise. The article went on to describe the Death Sheet – a spread sheet that applies actual life-expectancy tables. So based on this theory, I have worked out that if I live for another 30 years, allowing for leap years, etc., that will be 10,057 days, 1560 weekend, 262,968 hours.

It makes you realise how important it is to dig out your bucket list and started adding and deleting a few activities as well as realising how important it is to spend your free time with people you like to be around.

Marcus quotes an embellished tale about Warren Buffett being harassed by someone who just wanted an hour of his time. Warren’s reply:” I have worked out that I have 42,515 hours left to live. If you don’t mind, I don’t want to waste any of them.”

With respect to all actuaries, I have renamed your death sheet – Your Life of Choice sheet – because I know I do have a choice how I spend my time, the work I choose to do, the understanding friends I have neglected from time to time and those I will  spend quality time with in the future, the films I see, walks I take, books I read, emails I respond to and those I delete. Every day is filled with streams of multiple choices, will I, won’t I?

No wonder I love tele-coffees – those pre-arranged phone calls, that may last no more than 10 minutes, but cut to the chase of an issue or query, often resulting in a quick decision or outcome.  I definitely don’t want to spend too many of my future  260,000+ hours sitting in traffic or looking for parking spots reasonably close to the potential meeting. I love the speed of emails, and nothing beats a phone call – talking to a human and getting a decision or answer on the spot. Unfortunately phone calls and newspapers are both dying breeds – what a shame.

Yikes I have just worked out that I have already lived 517,032 hours – that could potentially be a depressing thought – if I let it be.

So let’s not waste another hour – and by that I don’t mean you have to DO anything. Sometimes spending hours doing nothing, is the best thing for you. Sometimes we have to slow down first, rest and recharge our inner batteries, our spirt, before we can speed up and move towards our next life of choice goal or activity. One of the lessons I have learned the hard way is doing nothing without feeling guilty.

Enjoy working out how many days, weekends, hours and if you want minutes and seconds you have to live. Then all you have to do is value every minute, enjoy your life and be open to all those amazing opportunities on the horizon. Networking can really fast track most of the things you want in life – and always remember every best friend was once a perfect stranger.

“Live each day as if it was your last – because one day it will be” – anonymous.


When it comes to referrals, LinkedIn is NOT Facebook!

March 6, 2012

Social media is brilliant – however, many people don’t get it. Even on social media, we must still earn the right to ask for and receive referrals – just because you are linked – does not mean I know you well enough to recommend you, like or trust you or am prepared to open my valued network to you. Yes I choose to have an open profile, and I encourage all LinkedIn connections to have open profiles. However, for you to maximise trawling through my connections list, before you connect or send an invitation to connect to someone you don’t really know, it will pay you to put in the time reading the person’s profiles, groups they belong to and review the number of people you have in common. Networking takes time and maximising your opportunities on LinkedIn takes time too yet the results and potential rewards are worth it.

Please don’t be offended by this. Here are the facts (as I see the world). And I know that some readers will disagree and that’s okay. I believe if you don’t stand for something, you may fall for anything.:

* every time I give a referral to someone in my network, I risk losing my own credibility. So my policy when it comes to recommending speakers or industry experts is to only refer people who I have seen speak professionally. This sounds logical enough. Yet a week does not go past, without someone somewhere asking me to open up my client list to them – because they happen to know me or know someone who knows me. And I know I risk losing them as a connection when I explain that I only refer speakers, who I have seen speak. You see, I would rather lose one connection, who disapproved of my recommendations policy, rather than my reputation with someone whom I know well. and have built a bridge of trust of a period of time. And I will often say to the speaker wanting the introduction, invite me to an event you are speaking at, so I can see you present. I can count on one hand, those invitations I have received over the last twenty years.

* And in saying that, if someone asked me for a specific topic and I didn’t personally know that speaker, I would definitely mention them to the third party, but explain that they should do their homework on the speaker’s suitability for their project. And LinkedIn makes checking recommendations very easy – by just looking at the person’s profile and checking out their recommendations you will be able to check their suitability for yourself.

Of course, this principal does not just apply for professional speakers, it applies across the board with all professions. Every time you give a referral you risk losing some of your own credibility if the referee does not meet the third parties expectations.

* what I am also noticing on LinkedIn, is that once you connect, some people send you an “offer” – 50% off, 80% off – a “deal” – and a request to recommend me to your friends. Why would I do that? I may not even be interested in your unrequested offer, so why would I fill up my valued networks inbox with offers that they don’t want either. Well there might be a handful that would be interested – but I will let them find you through their various search methods, rather than risk alienating my network. Or if you become active on LinkedIn – you too will build a strong and broad network. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook.

* Once you understand the law of reciprocity – what you give out comes back ten fold – you will realise that if you want recommendations for your LinkedIn profile – all you have to do is recommend others. In my networking presentations, I suggest to people that as a minimum they give away one referral a week to their network, whether it’s a referral for business, a restaurant, event or film you have experienced and enjoyed  – a recommendation.  And if that is not possible, then talk something up, have something good to say about another.

How long should your LinkedIn recommendation be for a service provider, supplier or one of your network? Sometimes one line is enough, sometimes it may be a paragraph or two. I will give LinkedIn full credit – it is continually improving its systems and makes it so easy for you to recommend people in your network. And you have to make the effort to do it.

Again I know I risk alienating even more people when I say no to a request for a recommendation or an easy introduction – but I know that business and relationships are built on clear communication, building trust and valuing your network.

Let me share with you the difference between a tip, a lead and a referral. I know I have blogged about this before, but it is one of the keys to your business or career growth.

A tip – is almost gossip – e.g. there is a hotel in the CBD doing a refurbishment. this is almost useless information and not very helpful at all if you are in the refurbishing business.

A lead, the Central Plaza Hotel is doing a large refurbishing project this year.  Yes I have more information and at least have identified the location.

A referral, I have been speaking to John Smith from the Central Plaza Hotel in the CBD, they are doing a large refurbishing project this year. I mentioned you would be perfect for that project and I gave him your details. Here is his number, he is expecting to hear from you in the next 24 hours. That is a referral!

Will you get the contract? Possibly something like this might be a tender situation, but talking to the key player will certainly give you heads up on the brief, time frame etc. And if it’s not a tender situation, well at least you throw your hat into the ring with that third party endorsement.

Over time, you will build a network of suppliers and service providers that you will trust almost with your life – certainly with your reputation. And sometimes they too may let you down. Let me share a recent experience with you. Without hesitation, I recommended a graphic designer to an author I was working with and gave them a huge wrap. The author paid a 50% deposit, we briefed the designer and waited for the proofs. What came through was nothing like what the author or I had requested – not the right colours, image, it was a disaster.

I spoke to the author immediately and explained I did not know why the graphic designer had not met the brief and recommended that we not proceed with the designs. The client was very disappointed and suggested they would use their regular graphic designer and that was that.

I knew that the graphic designer had a death in the family 6 weeks previously, and although they appeared to be on top of things, grief, as many of us know takes time to recover from. I was delighted when I saw the email from the original graphic designer to the author, admitting their error in not following the brief, apologising profusely and advising that they would refund the deposit that day. I was delighted they had taken that action, the author was pleased and commented on the graphic designer’s professionalism. Will I continue to refer work to the graphic designer? Yes, I have already. I believe we can always forgive an OOPS (a mistake) – when it is managed well and no one is disadvantaged.

Isn’t it an exciting world we live in today? This is just my personal opinion, you may agree with part or all of it or none of it – and thats okay too.

The master networkers, whom I respect have systems, proceedures and ways of operating – and they stick to them – even though at times their decisions are not popular. Similar to leadership, networking is not a popularity contest – and not everyone is going to like you. However, when they understand the reasons behind your decisions, maybe they accept you to not – and that’s okay too.

An action step you may consider for today, is to look at your LinkedIn connections list and select 5 people you would recommend and send them a recommendation. Don’t be surprised if you received some very appreciative response.

Happy networking until next time.

FORENSIC NETWORKING – a skill for serious networking

February 9, 2012

With over twenty years experience within the speaking industry, I found over time that not only did audience size increase, but also the size of the organizations I was working with. I put this down to a number of things – my reputation was increasing as I wrote articles and features for industry magazines and spoke at large association events, the need for networking became increasingly more important not only for business development people, but also for organizations in general, staff had great technical skills, but very little experience with the soft skills like networking and the word networking was showing up in the media more often. And it was becoming something that people knew they needed to know more about.

Then I started to realise that breaking into large organizations (whether that was defined by turnover or number of employees specific to industry) really needed to be quite strategic and very professional. And the more touch points or connection points within an organization, the more chance you had of getting a positive approach from the decision maker. Large organizations are made up of multiple pockets of influence and the cross networking opportunities abound, once you get in there – but how to do that is often the dilemma.

I first heard the expression Forensic Networking from a very successful senior partner of an international accounting firm. Forensic networking was something the firm did prior to meeting with potential clients and included accessing public domain information about the potential client/s, their personal interests, their networks – looking for potential touch points, within their already substantial client base, who could potentially be an advocate for their firm.


And I realised that many people do this, but not usually in a systematic or strategic way. As a consequence, the results can be very inconsistent. We know that maintaining networks and connections is greatly assisted with systems, so I have come up with a model to assist with your forensic networking activity. Be warned this does require effort, energy and time. Some of the information can be more easily accessed that others. Yet the greater the effort, the greater the result. I believe that you really get one shot at a potential client – one chance to really prove your worth or value to that organization. And if you blow that opportunity when you meet with the decision maker/s – it may take a long, long time before they give you a second chance. So the more touch points, the more chances of a favourable outcome.

Quick story, I once met with a financial client, who had booked me to do a Networking for Bankers full day program. Our meeting, in my mind, was to serve as a briefing for the program outcomes. In the client’s mind, it was a very different outcome. (Names and locations have been changed to protect privacy). Our conversation went something like:

“Hi Robyn, glad you could stop by this afternoon, don’t sit down, this won’t take long.” (Here was me thinking I would be there for at least an hour, and it seemed like 3 minutes was more on the cards here)

“We are looking forward to your Networking For Bankers program next week – Sue Smith from Newcastle, John James from Warrnambool and Fred from HR saw you speak at the national institute conference and said you were pretty good and we would gain from getting you in. I am on a board with Sue and John, they don’t work for the bank as you know, but I trust their opinion. Robyn, I want to be straight with you, we have potentially 600 business development staff that you could train nationally, if next weeks session, goes well, we will work out a stack of dates with you for the next few months and get everyone trained up. If next week is a dud and I have to warn you I have put some really tough cookies in your group – but I figure if you can win them over and they come away raving fans, then you are worth your high fee. If you don’t win them over, well, you might wait a long time to get paid. Thanks for coming in Robyn, see Sue on the way out and confirm your logistical stuff.”

How pressured do you think I was feeling! The good news, the session went well, I did win over the tough cookies and went on to train the 600 staff. In hindsight, I had the trust of three people, whom the decision maker trusted – without that; I would not have been booked. And at the time I met those people, who coincidentally worked for much smaller organizations, none of them were wearing signs saying be really nice to me, I will introduce you to a potentially large client for you.


There are two parts to forensic networking, the first involves your potential client, and the second involves you and your commitment to securing that client.


Consists of a list of questions about your client’s organizations, networks, potential touch points/connectors – much is public domain information and some will be almost like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. At first it’s just a jumble of information and as you continue to work on it, the pattern and images become clearer.


From their website, you should be able to obtain lots of information about their executive team, their products and services. Study all this information and highlight the most relevant pieces and prepare your own organisational summary. Allocate a two-ring binder filled with plastic sleeve and dividers and start your forensic activity. Use the file to store the WebPages information as well as your summary and key points.

Keep copies of any further information from newspapers, magazines, financial pages etc. – you are virtually building a dossier on this organization.


Inner circles can be formed through multiple connections, their children’s friends and families, old school or university contacts, previously worked together in other organizations, cities or sometimes countries (ex-pats have very strong ties), special interests groups – the arts, sports, environmental groups, politics etc. The list is truly endless – and the point for going to all this effort is to make check if some of their inner circle members are already in your inner circle or your current or past client base. Which leads to the next point:


Once identified, you can then make contact with your network and ask the question, “I wonder if you can help me, we are wanting to work with XYZ and it appears John Smith is the key player there. I understand you know John quite well and was wondering what advice you could give me about the best way to approach him.” Of course they have the right to decline politely, but more often than not, they will recommend that you attend somewhere where that prospect is going to be. Maybe there is a community event or charity that they support and you could attend an event or book a table to support this project, maybe you would be invited to share a box at a sporting event.

Now here is where the strategic part comes in – if you have no interest at all in that sport, and you work with someone who does have a passion for the sport or the team – suggest that you arrange a meeting with your co-worker and your contact, so that a connection is made there and then ask (very politely) if its possible that both you and the co-workers attend that sporting event.  Your request may be declined, however now you have another piece in the jigsaw. And you may find that your co-worker is in fact the person who can potentially be one of your touch points for XYZ organization.

If your contact generously invites both of you – do your homework. You can’t fake passion or interest in a sport or activity you are not interested in. Yet combined your co-worker has the passion and you have the interest. Your co-worker can give you heads up about the key rules prior to the game and then its up to you to get involved on the day. I often think of one of my favourite films, In Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith and how he missed out on a major account through attending a ball game, but made great contacts anyway. In the film the potential XYZ identified himself as a non-prospect, but he liked Will anyway, and connected him with his mates.


Sponsorships, awards they support or have won, alliances that have in the industry, charities they support, and corporate social responsibility initiatives they may be part of.

Your folder should be bulging with clippings and pieces of important information as your collect this data. Also don’t forget your internal network – asking the question at a group meeting – does anyone know JA and BB, decision makers at XYZ or do you know anyone who works at XYZ. and other search engines can also be a great help here – again you are collecting key pieces of information. Remember you may only get one shot at this potential client; you want to make sure you are prepared for that meeting.


You need to know the name of your competitor, how long they have been servicing XYZ, the products and services they provide. What is different about your product/service? Be honest, is there product better than yours? And if so, what can you offer XYZ that your competitor cannot? Are they under contract or tender, when does the tender expire? All this information is placed in your folder (manual or electronic) as you build a case to gain that large client.

 5. THINK  LIKE THE CLIENT, NOT LIKE THE POTENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDER. If you were XYZ,      what would make you consider changing service providers? Price is often      not the sole determining factor for supplier decisions. Think more      strategically about what you have to offer.


The law of reciprocity states that what you give out comes back ten-fold. So if there is a way that you can refer business to XYZ, prior to you approaching them re. business – then you are standing out from your competitors as trying to assist them to grow their business, not just expecting them to grow yours. Forensic networkers are creative thinkers.


How well do you know them? Can you arrange a phone meeting or catch up with them to ask for help. “We are wanting to supply XYZ, if you were me what would you do?” Similar to point 3, you may again find out key information to assist with your strategic targeting.


If you don’t know, ask the question. Referrals are often so close to the surface of organizations, you just have to do your research. If you have an advocate who is already supplying XYZ, what a great link for you – and the advocate already knows how good you are, and can certainly give you a testimonial, possibly an invitation to an event where XYZ will be or an introduction at an appropriate time.


Make a list of names – and grade them A, B or C contact – with A as the highest contact –know them well, have their number in your mobile, connect once a month with them. Then if you ask your internal network, who knows anyone at XYZ, and go through the same ABC process, you may find you have a lot of overlap with connections. And if you ask the second question, how do you know them, you gain a lot more information to add to your original profile.

Using flipcharts or mind maps is a great way to visually display these connections – I often think of a detective’s white board when you place all these names and connections in the one spot. Your jigsaw is really taking shape. If you don’t know anyone at all, make a list of the positions that key people may hold and find out who they are – if you drill down, you may find you do have connections. It is no longer six degrees of separation, more like two degrees of separation these days.


The bigger the client, the more effort is required to secure that client. You might get really lucky e.g you are a bank, and they have a particularly bad bank day – and you just happen to offer to sort out their problem. More likely though, little things keep building and building with a disgruntled supplier until one little thing can tip the edge and you can jump in as their next supplier.


Part two is all about YOU and I encourage you to ask yourself these questions?

1. Why  do you want to become a service provider to this organization (XYZ)?

Is this a short or long term prospect? Is there prestige attached to being a service provider? Is it all about bonuses, targets and sales? Do you want to genuinely assist XYZ with your product? When the going gets tough and you seem to be taking one step forward and three steps back, you really need to be clear on the WHY?



There is a finite number of hours in the week and we assume you will have other work to do as well as study XYZ – so you need to be clear on your time commitment and get mutual agreement from your peers with this time allocation. e.g.  XYZ’s decision maker may be a keen yachtsmen, as are you. And Wednesday afternoon twilight sessions are when XYZ sails with his peers and then back to the clubhouse for drinks. If you think sailing on Wednesday afternoons is a strategic networking opportunity, be sure to get agreement from your peers or they may become very resentful. Even keeping abreast of the daily news may take up to 30 minutes a day, where can you find that time – or will it be stolen minutes here and there throughout the day?


Be clear on time frame, possible resources, other staff involved – without an action plan it will be very easy to give up and drown in a sea of newspaper clippings and paper.


Create a list of names and contact details. When you do make the approach to them, be very clear how much time you are asking them to commit? Phone time/ text messaging/emails may be a convenient use of time. Maybe you just need the okay to run your progress past them from time to time. And of course, you must respect their choice if they decline your invitation. It is far better for them to decline than to agree and then be a no-show at the bulk of your meetings.


Maybe you can squeeze this project into your current day – but be warned forensic networking can suck up a lot of time, particularly in the early stages, when you are collecting the most information. One of the keys is deciding if you can combine your networking with your interests – eg. Sailing, running, gym, special interests.  If you can, you will find that you are a lot more passionate about project XYZ, than if you have to miss your hobbies to make room for project XYZ.



The sooner you identify this – the better for everyone. Forensic networking will give you the answer to your question  COULD XYZ POTENTIALLY BE A NON-PROSPECT? This might be due to strong loyalty to their current supplier, a long-standing gentleman’s agreement, and a less than obvious connection in the supply chain.

Quick story, I have a wonderful web designer, who has created many websites for me over the last 15 years. He is patient, speaks in everyday language, is up with trends that work and those that are faulty when it comes to web traffic, is affordable and always does a great job for anyone I refer to him. I was recently at a business networking breakfast presentation with at least five other potential web designers, one of who approached me at the start of the breakfast and told me all the things he could do to improve my websites. And when I repeatedly said, that I was a non-prospect – he didn’t get it – he just went on and on about what he wanted to do and what it would cost. Now I have no doubt that he may have some new ideas, and he could be very good – but I am loyal to many of my suppliers, especially my web designer. I want to work with people that I know are professional, affordable, delivery on time, tell you if you are about to waste money on something that won’t work, are up to speed on trends in the marketplace and those that are overnight wonders and those worth investing in. And most importantly, will always do a great job for the people you refer to them. They call it loyalty and there is still a lot of loyalty in the marketplace today.

In your forensic research when you find out who is XYZ’s current provider, a critical question to ask is of course, how long have they been supplying XYZ, If its more than 10 years, they may have a serious case of loyalty happening and are potentially a non-prospect. Of course, if you never ask the question, the answer is always no. But don’t be disheartened if you get beaten by loyalty, maybe some of your forensic networking time needs to be allocated to researching what you would have to do to get your current clients to all be advocates! Just a thought!

 6. Final   question – you need to ask yourself



 And sometimes when you finally get that XYZ client, then the work really starts. But your research helps you build your connections with XYZ’s key players and as you nurture those contacts you build your internal XYZ web and it becomes stronger and stronger every month. You stand out from your competitors because you try to build XYZ’s company as well as your own. Where possible you:

* Give  them regular referrals

* Invite  them to networking events where they can meet potential clients

* Connect them with some of your current advocates for mutual connections

* Keep  clear communication lines happening

* Make  sure that they keep seeing you rather than the offsider you offload their  work to – this is important. Maybe you don’t make the time for face to  face, but working your database and sending them snippets of relevant  information by text, email or snail mail, keeps you in their face. In time  your offsider will have the trust with them that you have, but initially it takes time.

  • Exceed  their expectations with the service you provide – they expect great – you aim to exceed greed every time.
  • If  you stuff up ever, fix it immediately – and offer compensation if  possible.

Another quick story to finish this blog. I recently gave a presentation to a large organization with over 20,000 Australian employees. For this specific event, there were 90 people in the room and the session was very well received. I included complimentary quality 12 page handouts, so they had something to take away, gave prizes of books and brilliant ideas books for audience participation, spent the entire day at the exhibition they had, so that I had lots of really up to date information and could tie in the previous speakers links. And I invested a lot of time and money into the presentation to make sure it really hit the mark the client had identified in our briefing.

At the end of the presentation we did a lucky book prize draw for the written evaluations, this ensured that everyone did write an evaluation. As I sat with the client and went through each evaluation, there ended up being 86 excellent, 3 very goods and 1 good – there is always one you don’t reach! I was very impressed with the evaluations and asked the client if they had any further comments. (I was wearing a 3 piece suit with some silver sparkly shoes – and have worn them many times and always received compliments for the outfit).

“Those shoes are definitely not corporate Robyn and I suggest you don’t wear the in Sydney next week for our next session. They will not be appropriate. And you repeated that networking phrase twice in the one hour session – you probably need only make the point once.”

To say I was surprised was an understatement – I thanked her for her feedback and excused myself to catch a taxi to the airport. I let her shoe comment bug me for a day or two, told everyone I came in contact with about the it and the fact they she didn’t even say the presentation was good – even though 86 people thought it was excellent. And then when I started to write this blog, I realised that big clients have big expectations –


  That’s why they pay you a high fee. It is almost an expected given that you will do an above average job. This last big client, was no different to the client I described at the start of the chapter. Forensic networking will give you the clues- but you still have to exceed their expectations – every time.



Networking & Sporting Events – a great combination

October 4, 2011

What a great time of year to be networking with all the sporting finals and the World Cup happening. Last week was a great opportuntiy to reconnect with a number of clients who are football mad – even if their teams ere not in the finals. Pre-game everyone has an opinion on which team will win and why. And of course it’s another story post-game – “if that last goal had not hit the post”, or “they truly just missed out” – and so it goes.

I was very fortunate to learn a valuable  lesson from one of my early mentors Doug Malouf, 20 years ago when I first started speaking professionally. I was checking in with Doug after a big presentation I had given. And I made the comment, that they were all raving on about the cricket results and I really had no interest at all.

And I will never forget his words, “Robyn, it’s not about YOU, it’s about your audience.” If they are interested in cricket for whatever reason, it is important to them, get interested. I pleaded that I didn’t understand the game, “so ask them to explain it to you. Robyn, what will get you through your speaking career is always knowing the two teams at the top of the ladder and the bottom of the ladder – across all codes. Scan the sporting pages, and even if you don’t totally understand the game, you can always ask the question – what you do think about XYZ? (whoever was in the headlines that day).

I always took on board Doug’s suggestions, what’s the point of having a mentor if you don’t listen to them? So the next presentation I gave, remembering this was the early ’90s, when pagers were around, I came back from the break with the latest cricket score – 4 for 198. I didn’t exactly know what it meant – but the audience were delighted to hear it. 

  In the next few weeks Australia will stop for 3 minutes (plus) for the running of the Melbourne Cup. Why not consider running a sweep for your clients? Decide on a budget for prizes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last placed horses. The prizes need not be expensive gifts – maybe some of your clients would donate a few prizes for the sweep and vice versa.

Make contact  with your clients the day prior to the Melbourne Cup telling them about the sweep and advise you will email them their house on the morning of the Cup. Have fun on Melbourne Cup Day and of course you will need to email them the day after to advise who had the winning horses. Don’t be surprised if when you make that first or second contact, the client  says something like, “we were just talking about you the other day, saying we would have to get more “widgets” (whatever your product or service is).

Good networking is based on great communication and staying connected. Have fun with the Melbourne Cup sweep – and look for an event in your local community to celebrate the race – it’s always a fun event and you never know who you might meet on the day.

Have fun, be friendly and most of all value your connections.

How i grew my LinkedIn connections from zero to 2200+ in 12 months

March 30, 2011

I hate to admit it, but at the start of 2010, I avoided social media and specifically LinkedIn – not fully understanding how it worked. Then I saw the light – well specifically Iggy Pintado, who showed me the error of my social media ways – and as they say – the rest is history. Am very proud to say that 12 months down the track – I am very close to 2200 connections and growing. Mind you Iggy has well over 18,000 and rapidly growing, so I have a long way to go. In my networking presentations, I have been asking how many people are on LinkedIn – interestingly these days more than 50% raise their hands. Then my second question is, keep your hand up if you have more than 500 connections on LinkedIn. Less than 10% of the people fit this catergory. When I tell people I have over 2,000 connections and have built those in 12 months, the question is often HOW did you do that?

So what have I learned about LinkedIn in the last twelve months?

13 things I know for sure:

1. Definitely upgrade to the premium account – lots more benefits and features.

2. Spend at least 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn. I am currently spending three to five hours per week and I have to admit some days I miss out totally and catch up the next day. One of the great things about LinkedIn is that its a 24/7 facility so if I am travelling or on a different time zone, I can access it at anytime of day. Something that I often do on weekends, while I am watching a DVD or television show is to multi-task by scanning connections lists and sending invitations.

Mind you the first time I actually looked through someone’s connection list, I felt like I was prying. Then I realised that was how the system worked – and it ceases to amaze me the mutual connections that you can have with a new or old connection.

3. Visibility is key with LinkedIn – so the more active you are the better. I enjoy answering questions obviously that I know the answer to or have an opinion on. There seem to be two schools of thought with Q&A – some just go for volume answers to lots and lots of questions  – the more the merrier, but not always relevant or significant responses. Others seem to just answer a few questions here and there, but give thoughtful answers. I would describe myself in that category. And some people don’t participate at all. Again it depends on your personal interests and time availability – but I am always looking to learn new things and share information where I can.

4. Also what I have found is that often the people whose questions you answer, strike up a communication with you and often invite you to connect with them and vice versa.  Plus the responses that have already been given, give you insight into other people, whose opinions you agree or disagree with. And of course you can ask questions as well.

5. Polls are another  great LinkedIn tool – I have run a few polls to date and have been pleased with the results. Obviously it depends what question you want to ask and how relevant it is to the general public. I have found viewing the results of polls you answer very interesting  and often people make contact after your responses. Again an opportunity to expand your network.

6. Active participation in groups is also another great way to expand your connections. I try to be an active member in the groups I am part of, whether it is just keeping track of the current conversations and discussions or starting discussions myself. One of the discussions that had the greatest response was the suggestion that smart networking was linking and connecting with each other, so that the group would continue to expand. Many of the groups also have opportunities to promote your business under a specific promotion button. And these days LinkedIn recommends groups that you may be interested in.

7. Spending time on your profile page is also avaluable use of time. The old saying – the more you tell the more you sell – really nails it here.  You just don’t know who is clicking on your profile and where that may lead to. Again LinkedIn has a great system where it shows you how much of the profile you have completed. Aim for 100% profile completion.

8. In my networking presentations, I always recommend that people aim to give at least one referral per week to someone in your network. LinkedIn has a great tool where you can give a recommendation to someone you know. To me this is a testimonial, which in the networking world is almost as good as a referral. I aim to send testimonials regularly to my connections.

I have a theory though, the people who ASK for testimonials are not good at giving them. I have proven this theory a number of times by checking someone’s profile and seeing how many recommendations they give. So often, I remind the person requesting a recommendation from me, of the law of reciprocity – what you give out comes back ten fold. If you want recommendations start giving recommendations.

9. Events is another great LinkedIn feature.  Not only do you get to see what events are happening in your area, you can also promote your events. I have been running Writing For Busy People 1 day workshops for the last six months and have connected with people via LinkedIn – that I may never have crossed paths with elsewhere.

10. Just a word of advice when sending invitations to connect. Lazy networking is sending the standard – I’d like you to join my professional network. I think one of the reasons that my connections has grown is that I use a variety of invitation styles:

a. for people who I knew years ago, I write – A blast from the past – great to find you on LI, hope all is well in your world. All the best for 2011. Would like to add you to my professional network.

b. for people who are part of a group I am in . We are both members of XYZ group, have checked out your profile and would like you to join my network.

c.  a word of warning with classifying people as friends. I have researched people’s responses when they receive an invitation to connect with someone they describe as “friend” – A really important point is that LinkedIn is NOT facebook. If you dont know someone or you have only vaguely met them – don’t click “friend”. I am blessed to meet lots of great people when I speak all over the country, but “friends” are people who I speak to regularly, usually call at least once every couple of weeks and see once a month. So just be careful with your classifications and if in doubt don’t.

11. Another system I use probably 80% of the time these days, unless I am very busy – is to send a message to the person who has invited me to connect. Usually something like – “thanks for inviting me to connect. If you would like to download some  complimentary networking articles and ebooks, you might like to visit” . I didn’t do this probably for the first 1000 connections, silly me – but now I do and this has definitely increased my website traffic.

12.  If you google your name, often your LinkedIn details are the first listings to come up. It then makes sense the more connections you have the more visible your profile.

13. Seth Godin is well known for his “build your tribe” theory and I totally agree with this theory. Some say, go for quality not quantity, how can you know all these people? However, I believe that the stronger you grow your connections, the more you expand your connections, the closer you bring the world to your doorstep.

All the best with building your LinkedIn connections, and if you are not part of my network, please send me an invitation.

Happy networking until next time.

“It’s time” by Tobias Sedillos

January 13, 2011

Happy 2011

Via LinkedIn, I connected with Tobias Sedillos, who sent me a fantastic poem, that I would like to share with you.

“It’s Time.”

I once asked an old man to say something wise,
and the words that unfolded – were a welcome surprise.
He started by saying, “Tell me, son – What is it you seek?”
“Success in hurry,” I blurted, “because my future looks bleak!”
“Times are tough.” I continued, with a little regret.
Because what he said next, I will never forget.

“If quick success is what you seek to find,
it’s already been found – and it’s a matter of time.
You say ‘times are tough’ – and now look at this clock.
There’s more to these hands than the tick and the tock.
You see only one hand in motion, but I can see all three.
It’s the way all things work, just take it from me.

The ‘Seconds’ hand moves fast, so it’s easy to spot;
Soon you’ll recognize it’s the seed, to plant in your plot.
Most see ‘small’ as insignificant, but I know it’s the start;
for your very life lives with the small beats of your heart.
If those never started, or continued – Then where would you be?
Nothing’s insignificant, you see – because seeds become trees.
Your seeds are the small actions that you must eagerly take;
the seconds sprout into minutes – the right time to cultivate.

Keep on moving here, because it takes time and vital care;
we all know who won the race of the Tortoise and Hare.
It wasn’t because the Tortoise was slow that he won the race,
he proved, ‘steady’ fares better than any back-breaking pace.
Minutes are the well-formed habits that add-up to become Hours,
just like seeds become buds, and then those become flowers.

This is a tough time for many – in fact, most will quit.
See, our culture has taught that good results must always come quick.
‘If you’re doing it right – you’ll see results right away.’
But, that’s not the way things work – I’m sorry to say.
Cultivation comes before the harvest – It has always been this way!

As the Seconds become Minutes, soon the Hours will begin to pass.
You’re on the track to success, just check your looking glass.
Your looking glass is in your mind’s eye – and only you can see it there,
Look there for your results, or else you’ll begin to look elsewhere.
Consistency with a purpose is what you are after,
and vision for outcomes is what you will master.
The fruit of the harvest, has arrived in your mind,
taste it, and feel it – it’s the best of it’s kind.
Hours and fruit, you’ll have all you need,
Minutes of nourishment, and Seconds of seed.

Although success can’t be hurried, it can be assured.
Don’t be like the others – who’s vision got blurred.
The key to getting started, is to start right away.
Don’t be like the rest – getting started ‘someday’.
Someday never comes, I can say without doubt.
See the tears in my eyes? My time has run out.

Success is not a secret: You have all you need!
It’s your time to get started: Now you are my seed!
You’ve asked for success, and now have the keys in mind,
it’s not about talent, luck, or even hard work – you’ll find;
Success is just a series of simple small steps, repeated in time.”

~ By Tobias Sedillos

If you enjoyed this poem as much as I did – please feel free to share it with your network.

Have fun networking in 2011.

Robyn Henderson

10 questions to know the answers to before your next briefing

November 23, 2010

Have you ever sat in a briefing with a potential client and kicked yourself because you had not done sufficient homework to know the answers to some really key questions?

The days of winging it in briefings are well and truly over in this tight and very competitive market. Recently I shared a pre-briefing checklist with a client – and it might be useful for you too:

Here are the questions I need answers to PRIOR to the briefing:

1. How many people do you know in their organisation and how well do you know them?

2. What do you know about this organisation?

3. Who are your competitors and how long have they been a service provider for this firm?

4. Do you know anyone who has a strategic alliance with XYZ?

5. Can you make contact with them prior to the briefing, and gain some insight into their relationship with XYZ?

6. Is there any way you can refer business to XYZ  in the future?

7. What can you offer that their current service provider cannot?

8. If you were XYZ, what would make you change service providers?

9. Assuming you know the names of the people at the future – briefing, do you know anyone in their network? LinkedIn would be a great tool to track these connections – assuming they are on LinkedIn.

10. What do you know about these individuals? – interests, sponsorships, awards, alliances?

If you know the answers to all 10 questions – well done – you are prepared. If you don’t you might research via their website, their industry’s websites, advanced google, their blogs,  Facebook etc.

The one question you absolutely MUST know the answer to is – NO. 3 who are your competitors and how long have they been service providers? If you don’t know who or what you are competing with – you risk making the wrong offer. Or overlooking something that is key to sealing the deal.

Some readers may think – this is way too much effort with no guarantee of return.  Exactly, and that is why you stand out as a professional service provider when you are prepared.

One of the things you are aiming to create with your research is a trilogy of trust connection. The trust that one person has with another, that is passed on to the third-party. John plays golf with James regularly. You know James through a social contact – he is a great friend of your sister-in-laws and you have socialized with James many times and support his charity projects. John certainly knows James well enough to ask the question – what can you tell me about XYZ?

Let’s hope it’s all good news. When faced with multiple suppliers with similar “deals” – we often look for a stronger connection, something that will set us apart from our competitors – maybe we too support a local sporting team or charity, maybe we are fans of the same sport. The more digging we do, the easier those connections become.

Research is never wasted, file it away in your memory bank or better still your key industry information file and you just never know when you refer to that information in the future.

Happy networking until next time