Posts Tagged ‘business’

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.

PRIOR TO ATTENDING YOUR NEXT INDUSTRY EVENT:

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.

   

How long since you asked someone for help?

September 24, 2012

It’s OK to Ask for Help

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to grow their business or their career, is to avoid at all costs asking for help. So if asking for help is the most obvious way to solve a problem, why do many people resist to the point of failing themselves, rather than take that perceived gigantic step?

Would fear possibly contribute to their dilemma?

* Fear of being indebted to someone

* Fear of looking or sounding stupid by not knowing how to do something in the first place

* Frustration that although they consider themselves to be a smart, intelligent person – how come they can’t do something as apparently easy as master computer technology, program a DVD recorder, change a toner cartridge without tearing their hair out.

Asking for help is the answer to most questions.

As Harvey Mackey says, “it’s not what you know, but who knows what you know.” Master networkers spend a lifetime gathering useless pieces of trivia and information. They store them  away, sometimes in a recorded format (if they are really organised). More often than not, it is in their head. Their mastery comes in being able to connect two or three seemingly obscure pieces of information and making them relevant. We are in a knowledge economy – information is the new currency.

I recently met a trade delegation of women from Singapore. Being very conscious of their financial outlay in coming to Australia, I wanted to be sure that they “got their money’s worth” so to speak. As I befriended the women, I asked the specific question, “When you return to Singapore, what is one thing you really hope you will have achieved from your visit to Australia?” Armed with these answers, I was then able to connect them with relevant people within Australia, who definitely had the answers for them. Some even may be in a situation where they could form a strategic alliance or put them in touch with another person who could. Master networkers always treat people the way they would like to be treated.

Let’s look at some of the asking for help options available to savvy networkers:

Fee for service:

This is by far the most popular – engage a tradesperson, service provider or professional who will normally quote for the job or service to be provided and charge accordingly. Yes, we will pay more for this service, but the job will be done exactly as we want it to be done. This is more often than not the most time efficient and, in the long run, economical way to ask for help.

Undertaking training:

Most skills can be learned and there are hundreds of courses available at TAFEs, evening colleges, BECs, universities, schools etc. The choice is really – what value do we place on our time spent in mastering the skill versus the cost of paying someone to do the job for us?

A friend recently bemoaned the fact that she was having terrible trouble mastering web site building. I asked, “Why wouldn’t you go to a recommended web master and get the job done in a quarter of the time?” Her response was that she wanted to learn how it was done – even though she knew it would be a one off and she had no intention of embarking on a web site building career. Each to his or her own – my thought was her time could have been spent better elsewhere, rather than mastering a one off skill.

 Barter services:

What skills in your area of expertise, do you have to trade with another service provider, who has the skills that you want? One hour of your time giving some marketing advice, may be considered a fair swap for someone who can give you a lesson in mastering specific technology.

Bartering always works when it is win/win – that means when both parties gain from the experience. This gain may not necessarily be financial, but the experience of learning and mastering another skill and the opportunity to extend your network.

 Volunteer:

With the global trend towards people wanting to give back to the community, there is no shortage of people looking for groups that they can become involved with. Maybe gardening or renovating houses is something you are keen to learn about. Seek out those charities which provide working bees at restoring homes or looking after pensioners’ premises. This is definitely a win/win for you, as you are doing something good for the community and learning at the same time.

 Find a mentor:

Sometimes we are so busy working in our business and career, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Finding a mentor for a short or long term role, can give you a very fresh perspective on your situation. Often a mentor has the ability to give you a hand up, so to speak, in connecting you with key players who can open doors for you. Try asking the specific question, “I am looking for a mentor who can assist me with my time management skills. Who would you suggest I seek out for this role?”

Over twenty years ago when I started my own business, I re-invented the wheel month after month, rather than ask people to show me a better way to do things. Not only did I waste time, money and energy, my business was stifled because of my fear of looking stupid by admitting I didn’t know something that I thought everyone knew – except me. It was only when I developed enough courage to mention some of the things I needed help with, that I found there were dozens of people in similar situations. We all needed help and we could help each other.

So the next time you feel stuck, not skilled enough to complete a task, and frustrated at your perceived incompetence – be courageous. Speak up, ask for help and become a role model for so many people, too afraid to ask for what they want.

Always remember it’s okay to ask for help.

Happy networking until next time.

 

Business Networking and Sex (not what you think) – book highlights

June 5, 2012

Ivan Misner, father of networking and founder of Business Networking International www.bni.com is currently touring Australia launching his new book Business Networking and Sex (not what you think) co-authored by  Ivan Misner, Hazel M. Walker and Frank J. De Raffele Jr. I had the privilege of being the emcee at his Sunshine Coast book launch last week and want to share some of the key points I took away from Ivan’s fantastic presentation:

“Has someone you didn’t even know ever solicited you for a referral or business?” Ivan calls that PREMATURE SOLICITATION

“Are you completely insane? I’m going to introduce you, someone I don’t know and don’t have any relationship with, to someone I do know and have built a relationshp with over a long period of time? And you are going to proposition him just as you have me, to sell him your product or service that he may or may not need. And that I know nothing about and have not used myself. That’s never going to happen!”

Yet how often is this happening to you at many of the Australian networks you are going to? In this current tight market, many people barely tell you their name or ask yours, before they move in with their sales pitch. And they get quite offended when you don’t respond enthusiastically. (RH)

“Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. Dont engage in “premature solicitation.” You’ll be a better networker if you remember that”.

“The message I’m about to give you is really for men, but should be considered by women, too. Spending money needlessly on marketing is just stupid. The benefits of face-to-face networking not only outweigh paid advertising, but stretch far beyond just growing your business. Guys, if you persist in discounting networking and some of the small challenges that accompany it, you’re foolish….

If you were to add up the soft-money investments of labour, networking, connecting and building relationshps you may be surprised at the financial value you’ve delivered to your business. Let’s look at the array of positive wealth effects that networking brings, beyond just sales numbers:

* added sales volume

* higher average transaction amount per sale

* greater closing ratio

* referrals tend to be very qualified professionals

* higher occurrences of leads and referrals

* more repeat business

* greater positive word-of-mouth marketing benefits

* more customer loyalty

* stronger community recognition

* greater perceived value.”

MEN VS WOMEN

“Our survey says that men spend more time networking than women do, but it appears that women get better results. At first this seemed a little confusing until  I began to look at what women do compared to what the men do. Women call going to events to network, networking….

Remember that women are more likely to be relational, they taken their time, they look for common ground and find places that they can support and collaborate…. Women socialize, they connect. Men always called it gossiping; often it was done over the back fence, it was relationship building…. The next step in the progression for women is how to ask their networks to help them build their businesses. Women spend a great deal of time networking; but it is often unintentional. One of the ways to strengthen their networking muscle is to be intentional with their networking activities. Men often serve on boards as a way of connecting and networking, but women serve on boards because they care about the cause and often never connect their business networking to it. If we would be more cognizant of our network, we would realize  that we have a vast array of people who can and will help us in our business.”

THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

Women take the slower, steady path to networking, stopping along the way to invest time in building their relationships, while men sprint the male dash straight to getting business fast by skipping some of the developmental, middle steps in networking. At the finish line, men seem to have a quicker return for their time, but it is the women who are winning the race, breaking through the ribbon with deeper, and more fruitful connections.”

I hope you have a chance to see Ivan Misner during his Australian tour – more details are available at www.bni.com.au or if that is not possible and you want to read more about the results of this 6000+ participant networking survey – go to www.businessnetworkingandsex.com

Happy networking until next time