It's more than showing up and shaking hands; it's about being proactive.
Business networking is leveraging your business and personal connections to bring you a regular supply of new business. The concept sounds simple, doesn't it? Don't let that fool you, though. Because it involves relationship building, it can be a deceptively complex process.
Think about it. How many people do you know? How many of these people truly understand what you do? How many of these folks have directed prospects to you as referrals? And how many of those referrals have actually turned into business?
Business networking is much more than showing up at networking functions, shaking a lot of hands and collecting a bunch of cards.
For example, imagine two people attending an event, sizing it up and drawing an imaginary line down the middle. They separate, each taking half the room. At the end of the event, they meet again to see who's collected the most business cards.
Have you met these people? Sure you have. We all have. What did they accomplish? They collected a lot of cards that will end up on a shelf, in a drawer, in the trash, or--worse yet--scanned into a computer so they can spam everyone they just met. Why? What does a business card represent? It's a piece of paper, with ink and images on it. No relationship has been formed. This networking strategy, by itself, isn't an effective use of time, money or energy.
Some people get frustrated with networking because they seem to be making as much progress as a rear-wheel-drive truck on an icy hill: one foot forward, 10 feet back--getting nowhere fast.
Networking for business growth must be strategic and focused. Not everyone you meet can help move your business forward -- but everything you do can be driven by the intention to grow your business. You have total control over whom you meet, where you meet them and how you develop and leverage relationships for mutual benefit. You have total control over whether you enter into the unique 29 percent of the population that is separated by six degrees (read The 29% Solution to learn more), whether you stay there, or whether you never get there at all.
Networking your business means you have to be proactive. The core of networking is doing something specific each week that is focused on networking for business growth. Make a plan, focus and be consistent. When you understand exactly what business networking is and step up to the challenge, you'll find avenues of opportunity that you may have otherwise never discovered, and you will be making an invaluable investment in the steady growth of your business.
About the Co-Author: Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization, which has more than 4,900 chapters in 37 countries. Dr. Misner is also the author of several books, including the most recent addition to the bestselling Masters Series—Masters of Sales (www.mastersbooks.com), and the New York Times bestseller TRUTH OR DELUSION? (www.truthordelusion.com); and he is the Senior Partner for the Referral Institute (www.referralinstitute.com), a referral training company with operations around the world.
About Our Show Advisor: Bertrand McHenry spent 22 years developing his skills in outside sales. Starting out in the cell phone business, then to Pitney Bowes, Dictaphone Division, and finally in Medical Diagnostic Equipment Sales. His expertise became finding, training, and developing dynamic and record setting sales teams. A number of years ago he was introduced to the concept of “Referral Marketing” as a strategy for growing his business. It worked and he was hooked! At a conference Bertrand was presented with the Referral Institute opportunity and “I was intrigued so I began researching the company and its curriculum. It is actually the only company teaching Referral Marketing as a strategy to business owners and entrepreneurs around the world…so it didn’t take me long.” These days Bertrand is doing what he loves and what he does best…teach and train! “There is a lot of misunderstanding around the words “networking” and “referral marketing”. People make a lot of assumptions about those two words, and most of those assumptions are wrong! I can tell you without a doubt that Referral Marketing is the most powerful form of marketing there is. If we structure a referral marketing strategy and follow through week after week and just use the V.C.P relationship model…we can actually predict our income 6, 9, even 12 months out!” Most recently he has been quoted on yahoofinance.com, maimiherald.com, morningstar.com and USA Today featured him in an article on today’s economy calling him a “Trendsetter in the New Economy!” He is also a contributing author on Brian Tracy’s newest book titled “The Only Business Book You’ll Ever Need to Buy” due out in February 2012 Bertrand also hosted a radio show “Business Builders Radio” on CBS radio, Talk 650 AM. The radio show was dedicated to teaching the concepts of referral marketing and helping as many business owners as possible. Bertrand is fond of saying: “I love to teach business owners to Work Less, Play More, Make More Money, and Create Referrals for Life!”