Is your networking working? One of the things I help my clients with is the evaluation of the networking they are currently doing. Are they attending the right networking events? Are the groups they are involved in likely to produce the results they want? Are they spending too much time or not enough time networking?
Three tips to help you evaluate your networking:
Tip One: What is your intention and what is the intention of the members? There are different reasons for joining a group for networking. You join your professional organization to keep up to date with industry trends, keep tabs on innovations and marketing ideas your colleagues are implementing, and to be able to enjoy the camaraderie of talking shop, or even get some mentoring – not for new business. This type of networking can be extremely valuable and I do recommend being a member of your industry network.
I’m guessing you’re reading this because your intention for networking is to build your business and therefore you want to participate in a group focused on business. I know this may seem like an obvious statement, however, I have seen a number of groups intended for business networking where the members weren’t really as focused on the business. Sure, that was the origination of the group, but the members have made it have more of a social or casual atmosphere and really don’t put energy towards really helping each other in business. So when you are evaluating either a networking group you are currently in or looking at joining a group, get a feel for the ambition of the members to help make business connections and help each other grow their businesses. Some groups keep statistics, like BNI, where you can see how much business actually occurs.
A bonus tip on this tip: when looking at a business networking group, a group focused on growth – of their group as well as their businesses – and they put obvious effort into that growth, is a group you want to be a part of.
Tip Two: When joining a networking group it’s important to have a clear idea of who your Target Market is. If you don’t have a good understanding of what an ideal client looks like, it will be even harder for other members to refer to you. When looking at a networking group, think about who your target market is. Does the group have any of your target market as members and/or do the members of the group have access to your target market. Meaning, does the membership have relationships with your target market? And, would the membership be able and willing to refer you to your target market?
Tip Three: In order to get the most referrals possible from your business networking group, make sure there are businesses from your Contact Sphere represented. Contact Sphere members are those businesses that are complementary to your business and not competing. Examples would be a financial advisor, an estate planning attorney, and a CPA; or, an image consultant, a hair stylist, and a photographer. We’ve seen that some of the most productive contact spheres are 6-8 deep, meaning they have 6-8 businesses in that contact sphere as members. If the networking group you are considering has fewer than 6 you will need to consider if you want to join the group and help make the contact sphere stronger, or look for another group. One of the advantages of helping build your own contact sphere in your networking group is that you will have a more influential say in who joins. Being able to select and bring in your own contact sphere members will more likely bring people who are a good fit for your referral team and refer you more readily.
Bonus Tip: The real power of networking depends on consistency. The number one thing to do in networking is to build relationships. The value that can become exponential is when you build relationships with people who will refer you over and over again to the people they know. In order to achieve this, it’s best to join a group that you can participate in on a regular basis.
– Maile Collmer
#networking #BusinessNetworks #EvaluateYourNetworks