Does More Networking Really Get You More Clients?
The answer is both yes and no ...
Posted on: 27/05/2015 By: Jacky Sherman
Yes, up to the point of diminishing returns and no, if you're spending hours doing the wrong things or missing out vital steps in the process. The Referral Institute recently conducted some very interesting research ...
We found that people who spent an average of 6.5 hours a week participating in networking activities stated that the networking contributed to their success whilst people who spent only 2 hours a week stated it was not successful. The research also found that people who spent an average of 20 hours a week got considerably more business.
"Very few business people can spend that long on networking each week!"
There are always other things for you to take care of in your business, other than finding new clients that is. After all, your relationship with these new clients doesn't stop when you're introduced, you have to deliver the quality service that got you introduced in the first place.
So I can imagine many of you are throwing your hands up in horror at the thought of spending 20 hours a week in networking group meetings or open networking events handshaking with loads of new people. Some of you might even find the idea of 6 hours a week is too much!
Maybe it isn't if you consider what 'networking activities' actually are? Let's list some examples to see how easy it is to get to 6 hours.
2 hours - Attending your regular formal networking group.
2 hours - In 2 X 1 hour meeting with two people in your close network.
1 hour 15 mins - 15 minutes a day interacting with your contacts via social media.
30 mins - 10 mins as part of a conversation with 3 of your clients about their needs that people in your network might be able to help with.
15 mins - Part of your social conversation with friends or family, down the pub, club or over dinner.
Add in your time at other networking groups, other events you may attend and all those conversations with suppliers and others you meet during the working day. Then there are the things you promised to do for other people and suddenly you've spend 20 hours strengthening your relationships over the week.
"How much of this activity brings in business for you depends on whether you do the right things with the right people!"
Who are the right people? A considerable number of your closest business relationships should be with people who know the sorts of clients you want to meet. These are the people you need to know well as they are your best source of referrals. Some part of your working week should be dedicated to helping promote their business as you are likely to be talking to them most weeks.
As well as these, you will need a wide, diverse and reliable network of people who can supply you with knowledge, support, great connections and the occasional referrals.
What are the right things to be doing then? Ahh, there's the rub! There are so many ways to inspire and motivate others to refer you and many ways to miss steps in the process. In general terms though, success will come if you focus on these two main factors:
Firstly, where you are in your relationship?
If you don't know each other well then you need to focus on building your knowledge about each other and developing the trust that is necessary before either of you are willing to introduce each other to your valuable contacts. Many a great relationships falters by skipping this vital first step.
Secondly, your behavioral styles
How does this other person like to be treated? Are they fast paced and likely to make quick decisions and expect action today, or more measured and need time to check things out? Have lots of information and reflect before acting.
Maybe they like to focus on business or need a lot more reassurance about your relationship first? Getting either of these factors wrong can mean that nothing happens at all.
So my referral tip for you this week is to make two investments in time:
Put aside at least 6 hours a week for activities that strengthen your relationships with key people in your network.
Spend some time honing your networking skills so that you don't waste your time either doing ineffective activities or missing vital parts of the process that will turn all that effort into real business.
If you'd like to find out more about anything I've mentioned here, then when not get in touch. Call me on 07970 638857 or click here to send me an email and let's have a chat about how I can help you.
Until next time ...
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