The Secret to Truly Successful Networking

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Networking in Business

Business Networking Skills: What kinds of results do you get from networking? Find out how to make your networking results go exponential.

The problem is this shouldn't be a secret.

But it does seem that not very many are doing it, so it must be a big secret.

Are You Getting Less than Spectacular Networking Results?

Have you ever gone to a networking event, sort of drifted around, talked to a few people and left? The results were most likely less than spectacular. And what were you trying to accomplish at the networking event?
What was the picture you have in your mind of the outcome? Was it to find someone that needed your product, or to sell your product directly at the event?

Most people have a picture in the back of their mind that they will meet someone who will be biggest sale they’ve ever had, or just maybe the FIRST sale they’ve had. In any case, if you are at the networking event to sell, you probably weren’t as successful as you could be by changing your approach.

Change Your Networking Approach

So, let's change the picture of what you want to end up with at the end of the networking event.

If your goal has been to sell at networking events, what has your typical measurable results been for that focus? Do you acquire one client per networking event? Or is it more likely one in every 10-15 events? Or do you even know?

If that is your picture you've been trying to sell one-on-one which isn’t as effective as selling one-to-many, nor is a networking event really a good place to SELL. Does that surprise you?

What would happen if you changed the picture in your mind of networking into one of "building your network"?

Let's look at the rule of Six Degrees of Separation. That basically says that you can literally reach everyone in the world through 5 other people. If everyone knows at least 100 people, and if the 100 you know each know 100, at the first level you can reach 10,000 people. Then those 10,000 also know 100, and therefore just 2 steps away you can potentially get introduced to 1,000,000 people.

Here’s the number of people we could reach through contacts at each level of separation based on the number of people we know.
........If each------- ------If each
........Know 100------ -----Know 250
-------------------------- ------------
1...........Me------------ ----------Me
2...---------------100 ------------250
3...-----------10,000 ---------62,500
4...-------1,000,000 -----15,625,000
5...----100,000,000 --3,906,250,000
6...10,000,000,000 976,562,500,000

The population of the world is approximately 6,440,000,000, so through 4-5 levels, theoretically, could reach everyone in the world.
So, why are you trying to market to one?

What would happen if you changed your approach in networking from selling, to getting to know as many people as possible, and then getting them to introduce you to someone who can use your product?

What do you want to do with the people at a networking event?

People respond to anyone who will help them achieve what they want. So, shouldn't you be trying to find out how you can help as many people as possible? Become their lead source, their referral source. They will respond in kind by helping you reach more people.

Networking with the RIGHT People

What would happen if you focused on the RIGHT people to network with? Who are the RIGHT people? It could be people who know the people we want to do business with, and not just any networking event. It could be other people that think like we do, that aren’t there to sell.

What is the RIGHT networking event?

What happens when we are at a networking event where everyone is trying to sell to everyone else? Doesn't that lead to a lot of competition for time to speak, to give your spiel, and probably no one is listening anyway since they are focused on getting what THEY WANT, SELLING.

What would happen if you found a networking group that is focused on building their network and getting to know more people that
Can help them with their business
Can help them get to know more people
Can help them sell their products
What would happen if you start networking with people that have the most contacts?

Look at the table above. If you are networking with someone that knows 100 you can reach 10,000 through them. If you are networking with others that have 250 contacts you can reach 62,500 at the next level.

You'll also find that those with the most contacts have been focused, like you will be from now on, on building their network, and therefore can be extremely helpful.

Now you are networking with other Power Networkers.

What would happen if you start networking with people that have a higher economic reach than you do? In other words their average customer is a $1M, or $10M company instead of a $100K company that you have been networking with.

Networking at Networking events where people are selling

Most people that are trying to sell at a networking event go to the event, meet someone, give a spiel and if that person isn't interested they move on to the next and the next. And when they leave the event, there isn't any further contact or follow-up with anyone.

How to Capture the Most Contacts, Set Up the Most Appointments at a Networking Event

If you are interested in building a network, you are interested in building a relationship. So, arrange to meet later to find out how you can help that person build his network, maybe give him a referral, how can you help him sell. If you keep your target on helping him, he'll eventually ask how he can help you and the relationship is off to building business for everyone.

You'll find that you will have more appointments from your networking than you have ever had, and that those contacts will result in more leads, and possibly more direct sales with your initial contact that you have ever had.

Some hints and tips to use at the networking event, offer:

Leads on the spot
To introduce to your existing clients that might need the products of the person you have just met
To introduce to other networking contacts you have that might also need the products.
To meet with them to learn more about their products
To help them achieve some specific goal, or relieve a specific problem they mentioned to you.
To share your client list, or email list. NOTE: You are here to help, keep it in that mode, not a sales mode.
To Keep this Network Working for You
Set up a constant follow-up routine, emails, newsletters, or other ways to constantly stay in touch and keep helping those people you have added to your network.

Critical Mass

The more people you know, the more there are that will be referring to you, or just sending more people to you that you should know and add to your network. Therefore, the more you know, the faster your network builds. I noticed that 100 business contacts sort of become the critical mass point at which the network started becoming one of my major sources for business building. I've heard others say that at 400 they stopped marketing because now they get all of their business from the network.

So stop selling at networking events, and start building your network.

Setting Some Goals

My personal goal for a small networking event, yours will likely be different, but these are mine:

Meet with 10 people, collect 10 business cards
2 appointments from the event (minimum)
5 appointments resulting from follow-up calls within 1-2 days of the event (to discover other ways we can help each other).
2-3 more appointments from follow-up calls within the first week of the event.
1-2 actual sales within 2 weeks.
Increase my networking reach by more than 7x250x250x250x250=16,807 for each event
Stop selling at networking events, start building a network, and start finding people you can help with their business and with their network.

This article was contributed by Alan Boyer who is President/CEO of The Leaders Perspective, LLC

Alan Boyer, The Leader's Perspective, LLC
Small business advice that has doubled 80% of our small business clients in weeks
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