16 Strategies you can start using right now! (or just pick and choose a couple to start with…it’s okay – all this can be overwhelming.)
1. Everything starts with a goal, so set a few and figure out how to meet them.
Just like anything else in business, if you don’t clearly understand where you’re going or why you doing something, it is bound to fail. Every time you go to a networking event, meeting, social, etc. you should have a clear goal in mind.
Examples of some great networking goals:
– “I want to meet three people who share similar clients with me”
– “I want to give 2 referrals this month.”
– “I want to introduce 3 members of my chapter to other business owners I think they may benefit from knowing.”
– “I want to set a coffee break with at least 2 people within the next 3 weeks.”
*Notice, most of these goals are in reference of how you can connect others, rather than simply wanting something directly for yourself.
Just like any other goals, your networking goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely).
2. Become the “Hub”
This should be everyone’s #1 goal. The more people call you for referrals, the more business you will get. If you become the go-to for information (the new 411 if you will), ultimately you will remain connected with more people, and that will lead to more business.
3. What can you do for others?
Networking is not about you. It’s about what you can do for everyone else in the room. Just like any relationship, if you do not care about the people in the room as much as you care about yourself, then you are a doomed networker. Those networkers who earn the most referrals in the long term, are those who help the most people in the short term. On average, expects that you will need to give at least 5 referrals for every referral you receive. People respond and want to help those they see helping others.
In addition, you can stand out by being extra helpful, not just by giving referrals. Helping people by email out your notes from a workshop, or reminding them about an upcoming event, will help keep you in their thoughts, and because you did something noce, they will want to do something nice in return.
4. Community Service Activities
If you are not already, become involved in BTN’s community service activities. Not only will you feel good because you helped someone else, but your fellow BTN members will take notice. Those people most involved in our community service efforts, enjoy the most referrals. It’s a great way for members to get to know each other both personally and professionally. It’s also, albeit less importantly, a potential great marketing story for your business. And of course, let’s not forget, community service is a mandatory component of your BTN membership.
5. It’s not what you said, but how you said it.
Be careful about your tone of voice when talking to others in a group setting, and be very aware of your body language. People who attend networking events are there to meet people, so if you appear unfriendly, or in a bad mood, you will not receive the benefits of being in the group.
Also, make sure you pay attention to the tone of voice others are using. It’s amazing how little miscommunications (especially at 7AM) can damage what was otherwise a great working relationship.
Prior to walking in the door, or getting out of your car, you need to put on your networking “game face.” If you had a tough morning or a bad day, forget about it for the time of the meeting, put on a big smile, and walk into the meeting as though there is no place you would rather be. There may be tons of places you would rather be, but the people at your meeting don’t need to know that. Make them feel special and act like you’re happy to be there. You are expecting them, after all, to help improve your business.
6. Clearly define your expectations of others, and be aware that they have expectations of you.
Define exactly what it is you want and need from the members of your BTN chapter, and then share it with them. Most people want to meet your expectations, but can’t if they don’t know what they are. In addition, be aware that others have expectations of you, so ask them their expectations in return. From there you should be able to create a solid understanding and working relationship.
7. Show up – people can’t refer you if you’re not in the room.
If you are absent two or more weeks in a row, count on the number of referrals you receive to plummet. If you’re not in the room every week (except in cases of emergency or planned vacation), people will literally forget about you, or worse, become irritated that you are not showing the same level of commitment to the group as them, and therefore they will stop giving your referrals. Once you lose this trust, it is very difficult to gain it back. In other words, don’t be absent. Make your meeting part of your weekly routine and you will benefit.
8. Don’t make excuses; everybody is busy!
Whenever I talk to networkers about things that bother them about networking, the number one irritation they have is when people tell them they can’t come to a meeting because they’re too busy. I usually hear something along the lines of, “You know, I’m not saying they’re not busy, but I also am basically a 1-man band and I still manage to come to the meetings.”
If you have to miss a meeting for reasons other than an emergency, make sure you have a substitute on-hand that can go in your place.
The point of belonging to a networking group is to get referrals and increase business. This necessarily means that as your business grows, you will get busier. Missing meetings and neglecting those that helped get you the extra business will only end up hurting you, and momentum you were building, in the long run.
9. Find your power team.
Who are the people/types of businesses that you work with most regularly? Find them and have regular coffee breaks. By doing so, you will be in a better position to give, and get, referrals.
10. Get advice regularly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. If you are not getting everything you want out of your membership, then meet with your Membership Foreman, Training Foreman, or another member and ask how they think you can improve the results you are getting from your BTN membership.
11. Wear your nametag.
There will always be new people attending your chapter meetings. Make it easy on them and wear your nametag. It makes it easier for new people to come into a room of strangers, and it makes it easier for them to remember your name and business name later.
12. Ask for a specific referral. Then ask for it again, and again, and again.
First, be very specific about the referrals you want. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to receive a meaningful connection. Second, don’t expect to ask for something once and have it magically appear as a referral slip in front of you. You have to ask for the same thing multiple times before people will be able to provide it to you. It is, after all, 7AM and sometimes even multiple cups of coffee are enough for our brains to be fully functioning, especially when there is constant amounts of information coming at us the entire meeting.
13. Have coffee (or iced tea if you’re like you know who…)
Bring as many visitors as you can to your chapter meetings. Whether it is other business owners, your best clients, your friends, or other business associates, a visitor is a referral for the chapter.
Visitors can do 2 amazing things: (1) buy from your members, and (2) become a member. If they don’t do either of those things (then they’re dumb…duh…just kidding), visitors bring new energy to the room, and this is always a good thing.
15. Make sure your profile is completely filled out on BTN’s website, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Your online presence is as important as your in-person presence. Many of our members get calls from people who found them on the BTN website. If your profile is not complete, then you are unable to compete against the other members in your category whose profiles are complete. Also, if you do not have a website (I will talk to you later about that missy!), then your BTN profile is the next best thing to give your business credibility on the web.
16. Come to your chapter meetings prepared.
Make sure you show up smiling, with plenty of business cards, your nametag, and your commercial already written. If you give a commercial from the top of your head, you will not get the kind of referrals you actually want. Remember, you commercial should include:
- Your name, business name, and a 1 sentence summary of what you do
- Ask for a very specific referral
- End with a memory hook or tagline