How To Choose The Right Networking Group For You
It's the quality of support that is important ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 07/06/2017 @ 8:00AM
A conversation with one of my clients inspired my blog post this week. In my recent workshop on analysing your network, we spent just a few minutes identifying the people we turn to for support ...
Networking groups aren't just about business referrals, the support they offer is just as important!
copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123rf stock photo
It is a part of our programme that doesn't' normally get much comment as clients are much more interested in analysing who is going to get them business. So I was surprised when one client came back this week to report that both his guest and he had been upset about this section.
"Not, he hastened to add, because
of anything I had done!"
But they had both realised that they had no-one to turn to for support in their businesses and the shock came when they realised that, actually, they needed it.
I shouldn't have been surprised as another observation from my workshops came to mind as I was preparing this. I run another class on basic networking skills, and I ask participants what they get from their networking. The first response is usually "support".
It is always interesting to note what people's immediate response to a question like that is. It shows what is most easily brought to mind, the most obvious, or most used. With further probing many people are adamant that support is what they value the most with gaining business seen almost like a bonus.
Fascinating when you remember people have paid to join the group, use up a proportion of their valuable working time and often sweat blood to have the perfect '45 second' pitch to promote their business when it's their turn.
"You'd think that referrals were the driver and other support was the added bonus, not the other way around!"
However, another observation seems to confirm this finding. When I ask people what made them choose to join a particular group they always talk about how friendly, welcoming and supportive the other people treated them as a newcomer. Then if I ask why they left a particular group, the importance of support comes up again.
It's true that most people will say it's because they weren't getting business from the group. However, they stay longer and find it a harder decision to make when the group supports them in other ways. They usually justify staying in terms of the friendships they have developed.
On the other hand, if they perceive the group to be unsupportive then they will leave even if they have got good business from it. I suspect they realise that if the relationship with other members has gone sour, then the referrals will start to dry up.
I believe this is the right way around to view any networking group you choose to join. The stronger your relationship with people the more likely they are to refer you (if they know someone who needs what you offer, of course). So a group which is supportive in a range of ways will facilitate the development of those relationships that are vital to a flow of good business.
My tip for you this week is to carry on choosing your network group on the basis of how friendly, caring and supportive they are to existing members and to you as a newcomer.
If you are not getting a share of business from your involvement, take a look at your own supportive behaviour. Are you supporting or asking for support from fellow members?
Here's a quick checklist of some of the ways you can do this drawn from the headings of the work I did with my clients that sparked this blog.
Who in your network do you turn to when you need:
To let off steam?
To have some fun?
To be uplifted and encouraged?
To brainstorm or share ideas?
To share uncomfortable things like money or conflict?
To be inspired?
To be challenged on your complacency?
To comfort you when life sucks?
Additionally, are you there when others need this type of support as well? When was the last time you did one of these things for a friend you first met at a networking breakfast?
"Would you like to know more?"
If you'd like to talk about networking or are considering joining one of my networks to learn more, why not call me on 07970 638857 or click here to send me an email and let's see how I can help you.
Until next time ...
More about Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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