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.

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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!

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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.

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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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