Networking Skills For Your Team: Part 1 - Why Bother?
Is it a baptism of fire or do you expect results?
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 20/01/2016 @ 8:00AM
Many firms with partners, associates and even trainees send these people out to network in the local business community. It seems to me that this is treated as a baptism of fire rather than a real expectation that they will generate a significant contribution to the revenue ...
If you don't have a networking plan for your team, then why are you bothering?
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Seasoned business leaders who are networking to generate business often have a cynical view of people who have been sent by their organisation to network. Their view is that people sent by their employer rarely give referrals and rarely stay with the group very long.
"The seniors in these firms often
get a jaundiced view of formal networking
as a result!"
When you investigate further, you discover that the firm has no real strategy around their referral marketing and networking and none of the people they send out on their behalf had training in how to turn that networking into real business. Is it any wonder the results are not good and most people give up?
So this blog post, and the three that will follow are meant as a guide to employers or senior partners on how to leverage amazing business through your team members through having a proper strategy and skilling up team members in networking and referral marketing techniques.
In the next three blog posts, I will share with you some tips choosing who should network for you, what knowledge and skills they need and lastly how you can motivate them to actually apply this.
First, maybe, you need to motivate yourself to want your team involved. Why bother to engage your team and invest time, money and energy into training them to be effective. What's in it for you?
If you are getting your best clients from introductions, recommendations or networking then it makes sense to do more of the activities that produce those results.
Referral marketing is based on building relationships that generate those introductions, so purely from a numbers game, the more people in the firm who have referral relationships with people who know your type of client the more referrals you will get ... as long as they know how to turn those relationships into referrals.
All your team have a unique set of personal networks and will fit more comfortably into different business groups and communities. Not everyone will want to go to the rugby and obviously, not everyone will be eligible for the local women's networking group.
So sending out members of your team to different events and groups will increase your reach into those markets and give you valuable feedback on how relevant your products or services are to that sector of your market.
"What about your existing clients
The chances are, many of your staff have their own personal relationship with your clients and suppliers. This may be with their peers or others you don't know of, because you always speak to the boss. What if your staff were trained in how to turn those relationships into business opportunities for you and your clients? How powerful might that be?
Another reason for investing in training your team is as part of their professional development. This may be particularly important for those you have earmarked for a partnership.
A key responsibility for any business owner is generating the business. All too often I hear anecdotes from people who found out that their partner didn't have these skills once they were already a partner and often after an acrimonious meeting about missing income targets!
Lastly, if someone feels they don't have the knowledge or skills to undertake something that is expected of them at work it will affect their general performance. It will raise their stress and results in increased absences, excuses and ultimately, in them leaving the firm.
"What a terrible waste of everybody's
time and effort!"
I'll cover more on this next week when I 'll be writing about how you choose who in your team should you invest in to help you win more of your ideal clients.
For now, my tip for you is to analyse your client base. If your best clients were introduced to you or came through attending networking events, then ensure you have a Referral Marketing plan in place that works and make a conscious decision to include your team in implementing that plan.
Over the next three weeks I'll give you a number of great tips so can you decide who requires training, what knowledge and skills they will need and how you can motivate them to apply it.
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!