Tag Archives: Networking

Networking is about paying it forward

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Social Media guru Chris Brogan has a weekly magazine that dishes out great advice on a range of things. This week he talks about paying it forward, building networks that focus on cultivating relationships.

He says, “the word “cultivate” means to develop. That means that YOU have to work to make the relationship better. It doesn’t mean “meet people so you can ask them to help you do something.”

I have written before about the value of networks,  face to face interaction. There is no instant gratification here and those who glad-hand their way through a networking event and follow up with a hard sales push will lose more business than they will gain.

The first barrier to break down is trust. If you are doing most of the talking in a networking environment, the chance of building  any sort relationship is remote. Listen. Ask questions. Focus on who you are listening to and not  the next mark. Trust takes time to build but the wait is worth it.

Here are some tips from Brogan. And check out Owner Magazine.

Brogan's site OwnerBUILD A HELPFUL NETWORK

1.) Be open to connecting with anyone. You never know.
2.) When introducing others, ask first privately if you can make the introduction (lots of times, people introduce me to others that I can’t much help, for instance).
3.) Upon meeting someone new, think of ways you can help them. I promise this is MUCH more useful than thinking of ways they can help you.
4.) Set calendar reminders or ANY other method to keep in touch with people on a semi regular basis. Cold networks don’t help.
5.) Connect great people in your network together. It’s always greater than the sum of the separate parts.

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A big group hug for BBOT networking groups

By Stephen Rhodes

Think of all the people you know. They are your neighbors, business associates, service club comrades, church community, close friends, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, family friends, relatives ….I bet its a long list.

This is your life network. The relationship you have with most of these people is likely one of friendship, trust and respect.

Good business networks are much the same. They rely on trust and respect and occasionally friendships.

Over the years I have belonged to a number of networking groups, and virtually had success with each one. My personal business network grew and over time I moved on but I visited one of those groups a few months ago and was taken aback by the quality of the experience. TradeTalkers, one of The Brampton Board of Trade’s Brampton Business Networking groups (BBN), had evolved significantly from the forced referral approach in its infancy 10 years ago when I belonged. You know, the groups where you are forced to bring a referral every week or risk excommunication.

Building trust and respect in the group is important before members feel confident in referring your services to their friends and business associates. Once that happens, anything goes and it was refreshing to see people talk so openly about their business, warts and all, and equally fascinating was the group dynamic to coach and mentor, question and debate, and  recommend solutions…complete with  referrals. There was a sense of caring, but also ownership or the problems.

Oh, and by the way, the group has won the Gold award for Business Associations, in the Brampton Business Times Top Performers competition.

Big group hug for the networkers in TradeTalkers. Contact the Board of Trade if you are interested in joining one of these networking organizations. Phone: (905)451-1122.

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It isn’t who you know… well really it is!

jeff bowman

By Jeff Bowman

You undoubtedly have heard that it isn’t who you know that is important to success, it is how you present your message to those decision makers once you get that golden opportunity to meet them.

There is some truth in the notion, however, that you will increase your chances for success incrementally when you multiply the opportunities to present your product or service through networking and developing what I call “channels of exposure”.

In broad terms, there is no direct sale without some form of relationship entering into the equation. The strength of the relationship is what determines the level of trust and interest. The more relationships you develop, the greater there is a chance for someone else to promote you and your products -that’s right, letting someone else sell for you based simply on the strength of your relationship with them.

business card swapNetworking provides the opportunity for you to make hundreds of contacts – granted some will provide a level of value and some will simply remain in your contact management system as contacts. But it is the harvesting of the good ones that leads to the “exposure channel”

There are many organized networking events available – hosted by professional organizations, Boards of Trade and RIC Centre.

You need a plan of attack and a well-rehearsed introduction. This is not, as many seem to think, a game of he or she who leaves with the most business cards is the winner. You may attend an event and recognize that there are only a couple of conduits available to add to your channel, and that is fine.  Prior to attending any event you need to ask yourself some questions:

Who would make a good contact for me directly? These would include all those who will buy, finance, market or will introduce you to buyers.

Who would make great secondary contacts? Those who know others, distributors, product specialists or people who are well respected and have influence in an industry.

What have I got to offer in return? Ask yourself why is my product or service interesting, needed or of higher value than my competitors?

Armed with his infomation, you are ready to step up to the plate and swing at your selected pitches.  Don’t neglect the other opportunities that exist to build your channel at social events, sports activities, volunteering for charities or schools etc. The time it takes to introduce yourself and ask a few simple questions may be well rewarded.

So, it is who you know and how you manage the channel of exposure through networking and other activities that will determine your success rate.

Your one voice can reach a few ears. However, a combined effort will reach ears you never even imagined.  Just like in the Dr.Suess story, Horton Hears a Who, “we are here, we are here!”

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Social media is a lot of work

By Stephen Rhodes
Have you ever been to a networking event and watched people pressed against the wall too petrified to move?

Ants Carrying FruitWorking the room is hard work and it can be intimidating if you are not naturally an outgoing person.

That’s where the 30 second, no make that 15 second, elevator pitch comes in handy.

That’s about how much time you have to make an impression, the quivalent of 140 words in the Twitter universe.

Social media expert Chris Brogan’s says it’s equally difficult to work the  online universe.

“It’s a lot easier to mass email people a generic, link-laden newsletter. It’s much easier to place ads and hire agencies to measure the results of those ads. If you create another banner campaign, it’s a lot faster and simpler to measure,”  Chris says.

” Building a new plan for your organization that encompasses using listening tools, media creation like blogs and podcasts, social network interactions on services like Twitter and Facebook, is very difficult.”

But not impossible, if you are prepared to work at it.

Chris says companies need to consider social media strategically and assign the appropriate resources if they want results. He cautions it’s not as simple as setting up a Twitter account.

Networking  has always required work, whether you are working a room or working online.  It’s still the best way to connect with customers.

What do you think?

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Filed under Marketing, Networking, social media, Stephen Rhodes

Plug into a people network

By Stephen Rhodes

Think of all the people you know. Now put them into tiny little boxes. They are your neighbors, business associates, service club comrades, church community, close friends, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, family friends, relatives ….for many of us it can be an endless list.

peopleThis is your life network. The relationship you have with most of these people is likely one of friendship, trust and respect.

Good business networks are much the same. They rely on trust and respect and occasionally friendships.

I belong to a number of networks,  organized groups  that meet regularly. We get together to talk about business and how we might help each other prosper. One  group cuts a swath through a wide range of services – financial planning, logistics, staffing service, sign design, real estate, decorating, accounting, career management, web design, air conditioning service, computer management, business advice and training and a fellow who designs executive writing instruments.

At first blush, you might think there is little in common here, yet our group has exchanged some business. But the real value of group is not so much who is at the table for breakfast but rather who they know. Building trust and respect in the group is important before members feel confident in referring your services to their friends and business associates.

Once that happens, you network multiplies exponentially. The personal contacts and referrals that come from networking can overcome fear and build trust.

Networking is about building relationships and  I highly recommend it. Networking should be part of your business life every day.

Any contact with anyone, including your life network, can conceivably be an opportunity to grow your business. However, like all things in life, it’s important to find balance. It’s important to develop long-term relationships not just quick sales. High pressure never works in a network.

Remember, you reap what you sow. If you help other people get what they want, the world is your oyster. Do for others…….you know the rest.  Be patient. If you expect others to return the favour next week, you will lose their trust. Be selfless and it will come about.

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Filed under Networking, Stephen Rhodes