If you want to build a prosperous referral-based business, you must “work” the networks you belong to. So, what does that mean? Being a member of the networking group is not enough. You must be willing to make ongoing, effective contact with other participants as regularly as possible. In order to do that you must therefore ensure that you belong to the right networks, with the right people that deliver the networking results and connections that will help you to build business by referrals.
So how do you choose the right networks? There are so many – right! We could network morning, noon and night. 7 days a week. 365 days of the year!
Here are my top 10 steps to choosing the right network for you:
- What is your intention for the networking?
- Are you looking for a social network, is it only for business, does it incorporate a hobby or sport?
- Does the organisation have your target market as members?
- Remember it is not about hunting and using the group for your clients but work out if they are at least in the group or represented
- Does the organisation have your referral sources as members?
- Much more important is to work with people who also have access to your target market and become a good source of referrals for you.
- How long has the group been in existence?
- Is it an established group or is it a brand new group? There are pro’s and con’s to both.
- What is the basic philosophy of the organisation?
- We’ve worked on Vision & Values in the past. Ensure that the group and the values match your own too
- How many members does it have?
- Big is not necessarily better. However, a good number in the room helps build connections.
- What is the quality of the membership?
- Quality is far better over quantity. What type of organisations are in the room. Will they be able to introduce you to other good quality organisations? Remember – we want to network up!
- How often does it meet?
- Creating good connections is about meeting regularly so you will want a group that has a regular schedule.
- How do other members feel about the group?
- What is the feeling around the group, do people get on? Ask the question when you are a visitor about why others joined and what they like.
- Can you become a relevant or important player in this organisation?
- How can you bring skills and knowledge to the group? Are there different roles in the group that you can volunteer to take on? It may help with your visibility and the group and your credibility.
Have a look at the networking groups you belong to already and ask yourself the above questions and work out what you need to do to ensure you are gaining maximum benefit from attending and being a member.
If you are not doing a minimum of three different styles of networking, then look out for some new groups that you might consider joining and work through the above steps and questions when working out if it’s for you or not.
And if you are brand new to networking – great! Give me a call and I will be happy to go through a strategy with you and help you ensure that you are building your network around you and that you can build a foundation to ensure you are working towards a consistent flow of referrals from your activities.