Networkers deal or no deal dilemma



I was really taken aback by the follow up of a networker I met recently. I was expected to recommend a service without knowing what it did. This post explains what happened, why it’s often offensive and why there’s a debit in the brand bank thereafter.

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Networking events are often where it starts… yet not always

I met Jane at a breakfast meeting and found her to be really friendly. We could have met anywhere really. We had only just met when Jane said we should collaborate. It is one of my favourite words so I was pleased when we agreed it would be prudent to catch up on the phone first. I love making progress that way to explore if we could help each other. Phone calls, Skype, ‘face to face’ online networks, LinkedIn, twitter et al help us build relationships.

Jane started the conversation by telling me that she had a fantastic 70/30 collaboration in mind for me. If I purchased their service for a 70% discount I was then allowed to send a message to all my contacts telling them they could get 30% off. This was the strangest form of collaboration I had heard of. I hadn’t even found out what benefit the service would provide to a buyer. It already seemed one sided.

Why do some collaborations simply not add up?

You may have heard the phrases ‘work the room’ or ‘sell through the room’. I hear them regularly yet I think Jane mistook the time we met for an opportunity to find people to turn into clients and then advertisers. We had only met once and the next time we spoke I was offered a ‘special’ deal. I still don’t know what they do.

In my World a collaboration involves two or more parties winning. It never involves one getting a sale whilst the other ends up with a service they do not require and spends time, effort or resources advertising it. They could be spending this time promoting their own product or service. A collaboration should mean an equal win/win for parties concerned. Or as close as possible to it.

Is this a debit in the brand bank account?

Our conversation about collaboration turned into a sales pitch and I politely explained that I didn’t require the service. According to Jane, that meant that I couldn’t offer the service to people I knew. Which indicated someone could be missing out. I think that someone is Jane even though she tried to persuade me otherwise. If I did recommend Jane would she will go in for the kill and ‘hard sell’?

I don’t know anybody that appreciates that so I wouldn’t feel comfortable making an introduction. Even worse, I have no idea what their service does or who it benefits so I can’t let people know when I do meet them. These are debits in the personal and business brand accounts. That’s branding. It has to be congruent to work and even the largest organisations struggle to pull all the pieces together. What does your follow up say about you or your company brand?

Wrap up: Whenever I hear the name of Jane’s company it will conjure up negative thoughts and images, despite the great first impression that Jane made. Nobody’s perfect and you can’t please everyone. I am often asked; ‘If everyone I meet networking is there to sell, how can I generate sales?’ I developed a guide that helps people take the first step when engaging others. You can download your own copy here today.

Top Tip: After you have established if there is a mutual benefit in meeting someone visit them at their premises. If it’s the sort of service where you may end of dealing with the team – your contact may often be abroad – you might want to meet their team too.

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How do you calculate a powerful return on your networking investment?



A previous post explained why business networking is not a numbers game. This post explodes the myth that networking results are aligned with the number of events you attend, cards or contacts you collect, one-ones that you get in the diary or cups of coffee that you share. Your networking Return on Investment should be judged on the income you generate. If you take it a step further (some business owners I have helped do) you will want to judge it on the profit you generate.

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Why are events, cards, contacts, meetings and shared drinks unreliable measures?

Put simply, collecting contacts and undertaking these activities do not always lead to income. They are all costs if they don’t produce a reasonable return. Sure, they are all nice things yet most people are networking to generate business. If they don’t cost you money they cost you time. And time is money, right?

I grant you that some people network for support and others find suppliers.

When the focus turns to generating income you could have hundreds of contacts, schedule weekly one to ones or the other time consuming activities mentioned above and still not generate any real results. I remember when I was employed, I had sales managers who expected the sales force to get business every time they visited an event or networked. With the self employed or a partnership it takes time for the pressure to build yet pressure can be paralysing.

What can you measure to gauge a busines networking ROI?

Income and profit are the very good measures for a Return On Investment. Twitter is very topical yet has become apparent that having lots of followers does not relate directly to income. You can have hundreds of contacts without generating any income. I’m not saying that no-one generates income when networking. Of course they do. Yet some are more successful than others.  Register here for your free advanced copy of our special report about why networking doesn’t usually work for most people.

Take a look at your income for the last 3 months, 6 months or 12 months and work out how much of it has emanated from networking. If you haven’t got a customer relationship management system that makes this clear take a look at your client list name by name or sector by sector and work out how they found you. Or how you found them. Write the total percentages on a piece of paper. What are your initial thoughts when looking at this total? Are you happy, sad or indifferent?

How should you measure the true ROI?

First work out how many networking “events” you go to in an average week, fortnight or month. Make sure you include your online activities. If they involve people and discussions – it’s a form of networking. Then work out the time invested in them. That’s the time spent preparing, time spent travelling to and from, time spent at the actual event and time spent following up. Also add the cost of the event and the cost of any food or drink consumed whilst there. Don’t forget the travel cost. Especially if you drive – petrol costs have soared.

If you go networking every week multiply these figures by 50. If you go fortnightly, multiply by 25. If you go once a month, multiply by 12. Then compare the amount of income you wrote on the piece of paper to the figures you just calculated. If you are a “fee earner” you may already know your hourly rate so you can compare that with your networking rate with a little mathematics. What are your initial thoughts when looking at this total? Has your mood changed?

What I think may be immaterial. What really matters is what you think of the return of your networking investment?

Wrap up: To calculate your Return on Investment or Return on Engagement you must check your income and/or profit. Work out what you have gained from networking. The result may surprise you. Is there something else you can do to generate more income for the same investments? Or should you invest more time leveraging results from the network you have already built?

Top Tip: A fantastic benefit of networking is meeting highly talented individuals who have left corporations. Some of them are new to the SME environment and like mixing with people in similar positions – you can find them on the networking circuit. Their advice is available for a fraction of the investment that their previous employers’ would have charged.

Register here for our revolutionary new briefings or workshops or call today for a networking audit.

Don’t forget, if you want to improve your networking results sign up to our RSS or email feed at the top right of the page to receive details of posts, top tips, special offers, events and promotion’s.

Or register here for your free advanced copy of our special report about why networking doesn’t usually work for most people.

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Can business networking relationships survive conflicts of interest?



A few months ago I was introduced to a new client by a contact from a corporate entity. Bert had introduced me before and the positive feedback he received ensured he was totally comfortable introducing me again. Don’t you just love it when that happens? I do. This post is about how a “conflict of interest” arose, why it might have happened and how relationships can end up stronger if issues that arise are handled empathetically.

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Conflicts seem to be all the rage

If you believed everything you read in the media the World seems to be rife with conflict and there are less newsworthy conflicts evolving in business – most often called conflicts of interest. Indeed they happen so often that the Financial Services Authority mentions them in their rulebook. However, this was a “softer” scenario where relationships were at risk Continue reading

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Are you excited by a “moderately effective” networking group?



A recent survey on LinkedIn determined that 31% of those polled thought that networking groups or clubs were “moderately effective”. This lead to a contact deciding not to invest in any groups. This post opens the discussion on why groups have a bad name, why only 4% find groups “very” effective and what group leaders can do to retain or attract members.

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It was 31% by the time the poll was closed

Why do groups get a bad name?

The commitment and quality of members was cited as a reason in the debate. This may be true yet the leadership are the key players. Not just the leadership around the table. The quality of the learning and development is vital. If the programme is aimed towards helping the group to grow, it should be complimented by developing ways to improve the results of the membership. Continue reading

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Networkers failing memory fears



   A little know networking phrase is “recency”. You would probably like to be the person people think of first when they are about to make an investment in the products or services you provide. This article explains what “recency” is, why it is valuable and what you can do to ensure you are “front of mind” when people need a product or service that you provide. Continue reading

Posted in Business Networking, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Results, Business Networking Strategy, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Training, Ladies network, Ladies networking, Lead Generation for accountants, Lead generation for solicitors, Marketing, Marketing for accountants, Marketing for solicitors, Professional Networking, Women's networking, Women's networking events |
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