The early bird captures the Bride



I recently got married and enjoyed every minute of the day. You’re probably wondering ‘what has this got to do with networking?’ Well, the reason my wife and I had such a fabulous time is because everything was well planned and the people we chose to make it happen were brilliant. We found all of them through networking of one kind or another. The brilliant band deserved their PR opportunity – it’s hardly Hello! magazine.

Contrary to what I had been told, the day of our nuptials didn’t pass really quickly and I was able to savour every minute. I can remember every magical detail. My wife is an Operations Director and the wedding was in Sicily (where my wife Josie is from). Read on to find out how we did without a wedding planner, how we found some of the ‘wedding network’ connections and………did it really go smoothly?

Welcome back, or if you’re new here sign up using our orange RSS button to the top right of this page. You will receive advanced business networking tips, new posts plus details of events and promotions that could help you or your network increase your profitable introductions.

Why is a first impression so important?

Anyone that has been married will tell you that suppliers seem to add an extra zero when the word wedding is mentioned. It initially proved difficult to find someone with experience of planning a wedding in a small Sicilian town. When we did, we were distinctly unimpressed with the response of those we approached, even though some had been recommended. We decided to find our own venue, photographers, florists etc. I could go on yet we all know detail that goes into a “one-off” event is immense.

My wonderful wife dovetailed with her equally delightful sister in Sicily to find everything and everyone we needed by asking their existing contacts. Josie, Maria and I agreed we had to meet everyone face to face before we picked them. That wasn’t easy yet it was imperative because the day had to go without a hitch. And there were a lot of cogs in this wedding wheel.

Does ‘word of mouth’ always work?

Just one example was our want for two photographers who had worked together before. If one couldn’t travel we wanted a reserve and we found such a pair in Cambridge via word of mouth. These were one of few UK based suppliers. Coincidentally, I had been asked to work for Best of Cambridge who had heard about workshops I had delivered for Best of Richmond. I was able ask my Cambridge contacts about the photographers too and that gave me even more confidence. We went on to make sure I delivered the workshops and met the photographers on the same day. My wife makes these things happen!

Everyone played their part in the run up and the day itself was truly Magical. The only glitch on the actual wedding day was when one of the hairdressers turned up late. This pushed everything back and would have left one of the bridal party with an odd set of locks. Luckily, the embarrassment was avoided because the other hairdresser made good time and saved the day. However, this could have been avoided because ‘word of mouth’ had warned us.

What if ‘word of mouth’ is ignored?

People in business network in order to generate business via word of mouth. It sometimes takes the place of a first impression. My nephew-in-law (Carlo) had initially expressed his concern that the ‘late’ hairdresser had been late in the past. He heard this through the “grapevine” – the oldest network there is. For some reason, this went under my radar – ‘listen to Carlo and all young people’ is a lesson I learned from hindsight. Bad news travels exceptionally fast in close knit communities, much like online communities. So make sure the vast majority of your news is good news.

On the contrary, the well prepared hairdresser is considered a hero. His reputation has grown overnight and everyone that is asking about him is hearing good things. The wedding was also featured in the Sicilian press. We had no objection to this happening because the band were brilliant. When we met them they were full of personality just like they were on our Big Day. Guess where we found them? YouTube.

Wrap up: Word of mouth is a prelude to a first impression. Don’t forget to ask your existing contacts for help when you need something, they usually want to help you. LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, etc. are all platforms people can use to introduce you  or others – if they want to. The word of mouth you receive about other people is often unavoidable on these platforms, so make sure yours is good.

Top Tip; Always have a Plan B. Having a contingency photographer became a real benefit as my Mum fell ill before the big day and wasn’t allowed to travel. Yet she is looking forward to seeing how both our days unfolded in pictorial form. A happy side effect of contingency planning.

Don’t forget, if you want to improve your networking results sign up using 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.

Posted in Business Networking, Business networking london, Business Networking Results, Business Networking Strategy, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Training, 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 |
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Networkers on auto pilot never take off



This post explodes one of the main myths you hear about networking – that you have to have a pitch you can repeat again and again. Much has been written about what to say when meeting someone for the first time. It is tough to make a clear, succinct yet powerful opening and ‘elevator pitches’ are much maligned. Read on to find out why the most common mistakes are the most damaging, what you should be doing if you want to make an Oscar Winning first impression and a top tip for you to use tomorrow – or today.

Welcome back, or if you’re new here sign up to our RSS or email feed to the top right of this page to receive advanced networking tips, new posts plus details of events and promotions that could help you or your network increase the number of introductions.

What is networking auto pilot?

Auto pilot is a fantastic way of maintaining a course once it has been set. Yet it’s pretty useless if you’re stuck on the runway. Networkers going through the motions of networking might not be getting what they truly deserve for their efforts. Typically, auto pilot networkers have the same conversations with the same people or are saying the same thing to different people. They prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ yet people they meet still don’t seem able to help them. They’re probably quite willing.

How can you tell when somebody is on auto pilot when networking? It’s when you ask someone what they do and they automatically tell you what you are. You probably don’t do this yet how may people do you meet each week that tell you the name of their job when you have asked them what they do. You ask them “what do you do?” or something similar and they tell you what they are, their job title or job function (sales director for an IT company is one example). It’s actually crazy – it makes no sense at all. Yet it happens every day!

Why is it a mistake?

Nearly every day I engage with people and we get round to talking about business, when it suits them of course. When they ask what I do I let them know what it is they will get by working with me. I may have spent years gaining different job titles certificates, experience and people I work with are still more concerned with the return they get on their investment. So I tell them what that is likely to be when I first meet them. A ‘story’ doesn’t have to be action packed or a tear jerker. Yet it must have resonance with the people you are likely to meet or they won’t remember it or tell others about it.

When someone tells me their job title or job function instead of what they do I have no idea who I may be able to connect them with in my network. There are loads of Sales directors in IT companies but they are not always able to express what they bring to the table in a networking environment. Sure, I spend time asking them questions to find out more. More often than not they provide tremendous value and I’ve developed techniques to work out exactly what it is they have to offer and whom they should be speaking to. It benefits me too because I have a cracking network of suppliers whom I’ve met when networking online and offline.

What should networkers do to generate interest?

Getting off the networking runway or changing course means they have to make an oscar winning first impression so people interested in their ‘story’ can help them take off or reach a revised destination.  They are the co-pilots, they support and steer a craft in the right direction. They can continue to do so whilst you are busy providing your products or service.

Without engaging people and helping them understand what they can really do for their contacts networkers run the risk of being ready to provide tremendous value that too few people know about. When someone is asked what they do it is an opportunity to win business from their competitors or provide something truly unique. If they’re on autopilot they miss opportunities that they will remain oblivious to. Do you have or even need a story?

Wrap up: Networking doesn’t always work. Ever feel that you were continuously taxi-ing and getting ready for take-off. Perhaps you’re been in a network, everyone should know what you do by now yet you’re not getting your fair share? ‘Why networking doesn’t always work and what networkers can do about it’ is the title or our Special Report. Sign up to our RSS feed to be among the first few to get their own advanced free copy.

Top Tip: There are some networkers who are tasked to only speak to specific types of people. You’ll find them awkwardly peering at name badges before engaging in a conversation. Don’t worry if they ignore you – it’s because you’re not on their target list for immediate sales. Rather than squinting and craning when meeting new people just hold out a hand and announce “I’m Jason”. Please insert your own name :-). When they reply with their name the conversation has started if you know what to ask.

P.S. Next time I explode the myth about not being able to network in social settings or with strangers. It involves a healthfood café, a queue and an inventor. Not your typical networking combination!

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.

Posted in Business Networking, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business networking london, 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 |
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Word of mouth ripples – Networkers turn the tide in their favour



How do you stop a ripple?

This post is about unstoppable power of word of mouth. Once it’s started, the ripple effect takes over. If the word of mouth is interesting to enough people, you can’t help hearing about it – even when you might not want to. Read on to find out why a ripple is better than a splash and get a top tip for turning the tide in your favour.

Welcome back, or if you’re new here sign up to our RSS or email feed to the top right of this page to receive advanced networking tips, new posts plus details of events and promotions that could help you or your network increase the number of introductions you make and receive.

Do you need to make a splash to start a ripple?

A teacher recently told me about networking worked from a consumer perspective. We got talking about the dictionary term of networking – “to form business contacts through informal social meetings”. He had never networked as far as he was concerned. He found that the dictionary was far removed from the description of networking events he had heard about. I reassured him that not all networking events were the same, not everyone splashes you with their sales pitch.

He was trying to tell me of the effect word of mouth had on him, so I asked him to explain. He recently had a toothache and told his Mum that he was going to visit the dentist in the centre of Town. His Mum told him he should go the dentist “up on the Hill”. His toothache subsided and a similar conversation with his neighbour ended similarly.The dentist has helped his neighbour’s wife. Later that day a telephone conversation with a friend ended the same way. “They must be really good with toothache” he thought to himself.  And now he really needed someone that was really good with toothache. I told him that this was a networking result, some people network effectively within their existing network.

How do ripples start? And are they always a good thing?

It can start with great service and a ripple can be measured if he asks his new clients where they found out about him. Are they always good? Recent events have proved otherwise. Perhaps the dentist “in town” had suffered a ‘Murdoch’. Maybe he hadn’t started any ripples by offering a standard service? In either case, a different sort of ripple starts, the tide turns. You can start ripples easily enough yet stopping them takes some doing – no matter how big or small your organisation may be.

No-one had mentioned any other dentist, just the dentist on the Hill. They were clearly the go-to person for the local community. This dentist is so good his clients happily told others about it with no incentive other than to help someone else. I explained to Mr Arscott that networking results were about word of mouth reaching the right people at the right time rather than pitching at business networking events. Whenever a dental problem is mentioned he gets a mention. The ripples have a life of their own. I’m going to name this sort of ripple an Arscott. It’s a really helpful ripple.

Why is word of mouth so powerful?

When I asked which dentist he plumped for, Mr Arscott told me he had made the effort to go up the Hill and was pleased with the treatment he received. Now he was telling me and I’m telling you, the ripples continue. When I enquired about his reasoning he thought for a moment.

Then he announced that one of the reasons was to avoid looking stupid! I asked how he had come to that conclusion. He explained that he would have looked an idiot if he had not taken the advice, gone elsewhere and still had a toothache. He just knew that the people he had chatted to were bound to ask how his tooth was when they bumped into him again. When he does, the ripples will continue.

Wrap up: Are personal brands grown this way? Who is telling people about you? When you generate word of mouth you’re helping people make good decisions about their needs. They will thank you if you help their contacts and they can share your story with others. I had a ripple that crossed the Atlantic. If you have a story about a ripple, let us know in the comments section below. Go on, start a ripple.

Top Tip: Work out who you have delighted recently or who has delighted you. Could you start a ripple? Are you on twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other places where word of mouth goes viral? The ripples and waves of public opinion are happening daily. You can ride the waves if you let your network know what you can really do for them. Don’t forget to kelp them first!

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.

Beyond Networking is a networking results company. Saving time and generating more leads is everyone’s dream. You could attend one of our briefings. To see if you can save time and effort when networking get in touch for an exploratory chat. It will take 15 minutes and you can tell me to get lost at the end of it if you like.

Posted in Business Networking, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business networking london, Business Networking Results, Business Networking Strategy, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Training, Business Networking Training, Lead Generation for accountants, Lead generation for solicitors, Marketing, Marketing for accountants, Marketing for solicitors, Professional Networking |
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thanks in advance for your promotion of my blog to others. I believe the information I provide is of great value so please let me know if you feel differently. There’s very little self promotion in the blog so please forgive this short and honest promotion of my stuff.

The sharing of this quality information is to give you an inkling of the things I can help you with. To find out if anything I do will save you time and effort with very little risk click here to learn more.

Posted in Business Networking, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business networking london, Business Networking Strategy, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Training, Business Networking Training, Ladies network, Ladies networking, Professional Networking, Women's networking, Women's networking events |
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Welcome back, or if you’re new here sign up to our RSS or email feed to the top right of this page to receive advanced networking tips, new posts plus details of events and promotions that could help you or your network increase the number of introductions they make and receive.

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.

Posted in Business Networking, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Events, Business Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business networking london, Business Networking Results, Business Networking Strategy, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Tips, Business Networking Training, Business Networking Training, Lead Generation for accountants, Lead generation for solicitors, Marketing, Marketing for accountants, Marketing for solicitors, Professional Networking, Women's networking |
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment