For sales pros and business owners in growth mode.
Can you 10X your results with just a few changes in your approach?
In fact, it’s exactly what I did.
I mastered the Tim Ferris or Perry Marshall 80/20 attitude: create better productivity and efficiency with time and resources.
So let’s discuss some key skills to for better business networking.
But first, let’s take a few steps back…
Summer of 2002
Montclair, New Jersey
Standing in my brother’s new condo, he shares with me the glory– no the grind of self-employment.
He was building his start-up architecture firm after leaving the corporate world.
We were discussing the strategies that he was using that allowed him to do more than just keep his business afloat.
“Never Eat Alone”, was one of his recommendations.
Quoting a popular book at the time, he was hitting on the importance of networking.
Great advice for me and I took it to heart.
Back then I was a struggling all-purpose designer and web freelancer.
Creating websites, flyers and logos — even programming ActiveScript for Flash DVD’s and CD-ROMs.
Though I never read the Never Eat Alone, I did eventually get my hands on another networking book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, by Harvey Mackay.
With only the intro, Mackay gripped me on the importance of networking.
Today I can honestly say my network is one of my most valuable assets.
With one simple referral from dentist, I snagged a 6-figure deal with hardly any effort.
Or just by touching base with an acquaintance I find an opportunity to relocate from Tulsa to Phoenix.
Do a good job. ✓
Stay in touch. ✓
Meet new people when you can. ✓✓
This was all I did to find success.
However, today when it comes to generating new business, basic networking is not my first choice.
Partially because my business is digital marketing and I can prospect via Linkedin or with Facebook ads. However, though ads work, generating cold leads isn’t the same as networking.
But mainly, because it’s slow…
At times expensive…
And perhaps redundant when you see the same people at every event.
A little business will trickle…
Maybe its just me, but my patience has grown thin.
Or maybe I value time more?
Either way, though traditional networking events or 1-on-1’s can work, I find a few other methods preferable.
Below are some ideas for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Specifically for those like me, are looking to 80/20 their time and effort.
5 Ideas to 10X Your Networking
1. Spend More Time with Your Top Clients
Like, a lot more time. And money!
Yes, before you attempt to fill you funnel with newly ripe, fresh off the tradeshow floor leads, make certain your best clients feel prized.
Top executives and business owners understand this fact: The cost to acquire a new customer is exponentially more than keeping existing ones.
My friend Antoine who runs a local trade association gave me some specific ideas.
After presenting to a group of sales professionals, he shared this:
“Arvell, you should know your top customer’s like the back of your hand. His favorite drink, sports team, past time, birthday and kids names and interests!”
Whoa there Antoine!
That some serious uh… “relationship building” if you want to call it that.
Now, I can’t say I have mastered that level of client schmoozing yet, but here are four things I do understand.
2. Nurture Your Existing Leads
Do you have 50 or 100 contacts who’ve gone silent?
Do you have a CRM or email list of business leads?
If you haven’t stayed in touch consistently for months or years, maybe you should first reach out to them?
In fact, I’m sure, if you would create a 3-4 part drip campaign you could re-engage at least 5% of your list.
Say you had… 500 emails. You could very likely get 25 qualified prospects!
And if you nurture them right, these would be warm or hot leads.
So what system do you have to nurture leads after 90 days or 6 months or a year?
Prospects are busy and distracted. So don’t let them go to waste! Create a system to nurture or re-engage them!
If they were originally qualified, you can very likely find gold them.
Question: What is your system for lead nurturing? Do you have a strategy and CRM in place to take leads through your marketing funnel? Learn My Lead Gen Hacks & Nurture Strategy.
3. Being the Speaker and Prospects Will Come to You!
Over the years I’ve dabbled in speaking. Though I enjoyed it, my only use was for teaching or inspiration. No real lead gen model. But in the past few months, it’s become blazingly clear as it’s own business model.
Well.. maybe not formal business, but it’s a lead generator!
Better than most other forms of lead gen, being the speaker at the event is instant credibility. Immediate advantage.
Instead of chasing people, you become the prize!
While I’d like to elaborate on this, I won’t.
If you can speak – be the speaker. Book events and steer the talk around a free offer that will capture interest in your business.
Then, of course, do what I said in #2 with the leads.
4. Host Your Own Event – ie. Meetup.com anyone?
Similar to #3 is hosting your own event. It carries all the advantages of speaking, however, you really don’t have to speak.
You can find other’s to speak and you can just bring them on.
And instead of looking for gigs, you become the source of your own platform.
5. Go Deep and Join a Mastermind
When I say deep, I’m talking about deepening your relationships. From casual associate to an invested business partner helping you succeed. That’s what a good mastermind can do. Originally coined in Think and Grow Rich- the mastermind is a rapidly developing concept with online membership groups.
But for offline or in-person groups – masterminds have been around for decades.
So yeah – I’d suggest joining one locally.
And get involved in one with peers beyond your level of success.
This is exactly what I did after moving to Phoenix.
When I realized I need to grow my network and meet people – I joined a Mastermind with the Arizona Marketing Association.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Gelie Akhenblit (the queen of Networking in Phoenix) shared these thoughts with me: “I think networking events are a great way to meet people when you’re just starting out to network. I would, however, encourage people to have a good plan of attack whether they are attending a networking event or looking to deepen their existing connections.”
My friend Blaine Oelkers from the Arizona Marketing Association told me he looks for events that are learning focused: “I enjoy interactive training events. That way I get to meet people but it’s in a setting where I’m learning something new – improving myself and/or my business.”
I read an interesting article on Harvard Business Review stating: Networking was a waste of time and honestly, it was that post the inspired me to write this article. Author Derek Coburn, offered some interesting ideas like “double dating” and reconnecting with past colleague and classmates.
Jeffrey Goodman, a friend and international speaker/facilitator for CareerHearted says, “It is important to discern the differences between Networking – the art of leveraging the net of influencers around you and Networking Events – a room of strangers focused on selling and promoting themselves with the goal to get hired. Know that Networking with those you have some level of an existing relationship with can be POWERFUL and of GREAT value to long term business success when leveraged correctly. How? First, put your attention on what you can Give to Give… PERIOD! (FYI: not Give to Get)! Once you have mastered this approach, connect with me and I will share with you Step 2.”
Michael Goodman, Phoenix Sales Coach and author of the daily sales proverbs “Solomon Says,” helped me to recognize everything we want in life ( not just in business ) comes from other people. For business professionals he shared this piece of advice, “Solomon Says: ‘Everything you desire is in the hands of another. The greater your relationship base, the easier it is to have it.’ ”
Michael S. Seaver, a friend and executive coach says “Building relationships takes time. Consciously plan to generate value (share a relevant article, email introductions to other subject matter experts, topical book, gift card to his/her favorite restaurant, etc.) for a new connection 3-5 times before you ask for anything in return. Ensure that the value you add is highly tailored to his/her goals… Meaningful relationships are the catalyst to successful businesses and to long, happy and healthy lives.”
It is clear that networking is important. But like Gelie states your strategy is critically important. And like Antoine stressed the clients you already have, must be taken care of. What’s the point of bringing in new opportunities if you don’t take care of the ones you have?
We must master both ends. Even more, I’d like to stress the underlying foundation of all relationships in business. Some relationships bring referrals, while others like masterminds bring strategy and accountability.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below or Connect here, if you want to network with me!