Because of today’s economy you find entrepreneurs trying to find new and innovative ways to grow and build their businesses. A lot of people have found that going back to the basics is working. One of the basic marketing strategies a lot of people are using today is networking.
If you look hard enough in any city (and probably not that hard), you can find an opportunity to network with other business professionals on a daily basis. What I hate most about going to networking events is that most of the people are there trying to find their next sale, instead of attempting to build relationships.
This past August, at our ActionCOACH international conference, I was fortunate to meet and hear from 2 of the world’s best networkers; Dr. Ivan Misner founder of BNI and Michael Port founder of the Think Big Revolution and the author of Book Yourself Solid. They each had a unique perspective on networking.
In a nutshell Dr. Misner’s formula for networking is this: Visibility + Credibility = Profitability.
- Visibility: People must know you and what you do
- Credibility: People know who you are and what you do
- Profitability: People are willing to refer to you
A lot of time people get out there and are visible but they forget to build creditability. If you are always in “take” mode, then people will begin to avoid you instead of giving to you. But once you go into “give” mode you will find that people will soon in turn want to do likewise and give back to you.
Dr. Misner also added that there are 4 basic streams of networking…
- Casual Networks – ie., Chamber of Commerce
- Knowledge Networks – ie, Professional Associations
- Strong Networks – ie, BNI, Meetup Groups,
- On-line Networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
To be successful at networking you must participate in 3 of the 4 streams in a consistent manner.
Now Michael Port’s system is similar but with a different twist. His approach to networking is to build a deeper relationship with your current network. His system is about targeting people you want to get into your network and then create a plan to build a deeper relationship. He creates a “Red Velvet Policy”. It’s a filtration system that attracts prospects & clients that energize and inspire you and most importantly allow you to do your best work. It’s based on values not on circumstance.
Once you determine the customer values that are most important to you, (success minded, education, strive for excellence, collaborator, commitment, & family are some of mine) you begin to identify prospects that share your values to bring them into your network and begin to build a relationship.
There are 2 basic groups you want to connect with. The 1st is already in your network and you want to build a deeper relationship with and the 2nd group people you don’t know and want to get to know better.
Building a deeper relationship with those in your network is what Michael Port considers networking. There are 3 daily actions you need to do to build that relationship.
- Share your network – introduce 2 people in your network
- Share your knowledge – share 2 articles each day that are of interest to the people you are sending them to
- Share your passion – send a card (not an email) to someone every day.
The first step to connect to the 2nd group of people you don’t know, but want to get to know is to create a list of 20. Each day take the person on the top of the list and send them something that is relevant to that person. Then move them to the bottom of the list and the next day send something relevant to the next person on the list. Once you connect to one of these people move them to your networking list to start building the relationship. Then add a new name of someone you want to get to know.
It will take some time to get this approach started but once you get the hang of it, it should take you no more than a ½ hour a day. Once you commit to it, you will begin to see that you will be attracting clients that energize and inspire you and most importantly allow you to do your best work.