Business Networking Tips : Who Wants You In Their Network?
Investing time and other resources ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 04/07/2018 @ 8:00AM
If you've only been in business for a short while, you are likely to know at least 250 people. If you've been in business for more than a couple of years then that's probably a much bigger group ...
We all need support; we know that business can be a lonely and stressful place!
My bet is you don't know all these people very well and I'm absolutely sure that they are not all referring you business. I'm also pretty sure that not all of them will ever refer you directly to a client.
"Their value to you is that many of them can and do offer other forms of help!"
It is useful to categorise people into one of three types of business networks. That way you manage your expectations and you are clear who to go to for different types of help. This is highly valuable information and I urge you to do that analysis.
However, this blog post asks you a different question. Who turns to you for help and do they get it? If we're talking about people in your network which, if any, of their own networks would you feature in?
Being part of someone else's network in a meaningful way means investing time and other resources with that person. What are the benefits to you?
On a personal level, you're helping someone you want to help. If you're a natural giver this will mean satisfaction in its own right. The person you're helping is also likely to be motivated to help you in return. It may be that they cannot help in the same way, but the range of ways to help is wide.
It will enhance your reputation. You will become more visible and more credible to that person and your relationship will deepen. You will be more embedded in your local or industry community or be seen as the 'go to' person by a wider range of people. This means they want you as a valued member of their network.
My tip for you today is to analyse your three types of business networks. Here are some thoughts on how to do that:
Their Information Network
You are a mine of information. Firstly, and most importantly, about your own area of business. Obviously, your clients get the full value of that knowledge, but it pays to offer free advice and help to others in your network.
You also know what has worked and not worked in setting up, delivering and growing your own business. You can inform others about the culture, regulations, opportunities and threats in your industry. You know how to win work and deliver services to people in your clients' industries or a particular type of private individual.
You may also be involved in other activities at a local or wider level. Maybe you're active in politics, human rights, charities, sports or hobbies that offer useful knowledge to people you know?
Who in your network uses you as:
Their source for informal advice
Their supplier for services you offer (i.e pays for your expertise)
Their industry source (yours or your customers)
Their local community source ( business, political, charitable or social)
A member of their advisory board, think tank or business award panel of judges
Their Support Network
We all need support; we know that business can be a lonely and stressful place even when we love what we do. So, who turns to you for support? Who do you love, respect and/or admire and you are genuinely interested in helping?
You may not have the knowledge or ability to bring them new clients, but you can offer emotional, spiritual support, to be there when they are letting their hair down or be celebrating success and equally still there when times get tough. Maybe you can offer a financial loan or investment or other physical support., like lending a meeting room or your box at the rugby?
Who in your network uses you to:
Coach, mentor or advise them ( paid or unpaid)
Confide in because you listen, console and challenge
Come to their social events and comes to yours
Support and celebrate their success
Loan them rooms or equipment
Loans or financial investment in their business
Sponsor their business or charitable events
Their Business Generation Network
The major reason people cultivate their network is in the expectation that these contacts will help them generate new business. I've deliberately called this 'business generation' rather than referrals as there are ways to generate opportunities other than direct introductions to potential clients.
So, who are you helping to generate new business? Who have you helped with:
Referrals: Personally recommended introductions to someone in the market for their business
Good connections. Introductions to someone who may be better placed to introduce your contact to their ideal clients
Collaborations. Close referral partners where you undertake paid projects together
Promotions Broadcasting and personally informing your network of the services, special offers or courses offered by your contact
I expect that if you were to do this exercise, you would find out that you have a core group of people who you help regularly and with some it's more sporadic. Whilst it would be crazy, if nigh on impossible, to do all these things for everyone in your database, you may find some key players in your network aren't turning to you for anything. Why not arrange to meet with them and explore how you can contribute more to their network?
Can I add value to your information network?
Not getting referred enough of your ideal clients? Are you sure your contact know who you want to meet? Don't miss this opportunity to join with others and get your target market into focus. A clear description of your ideal client will make referrals pop into people's head.
Why not come to my Summer Special Workshop, 'Target Market: Find your Starting Point' on Wednesday 18th July.Click here to book on!
If you'd like to learn more business networking tips then do give me a call on 07970 638857 or click here to ping me an email and don't forget to book onto my workshop!
Until next time ...
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