Where to Begin

Let me start by stating, that I have been involved deeply in Networking groups for over five years now. When I look back to the moment I first began, I remember I didn’t see or feel the full impact of having a good networking group immediately. It wasn’t until I decided if I stayed in consistent contact and surrounded myself with like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs, they would provide me with opportunities to further expand my network, which led to worthwhile business opportunities.

The keyword in all of this? – Consistency.

Consistency Matters

Maybe the word “consistency” means something a little bit different to everybody, but once you met someone who could be a future influencer to your business you should keep in contact with them on a regular basis.  Maybe once a month stop by their business, shoot them an email, call or most importantly, REFER them business! Not only show them you care, but stay consistent with your actions and remind them with giving them your personal business.

Example, I will never forget when I was having struggles with my back yard sod, which was dying and I couldn’t for the life of me get the grass to turn green. That’s when I reached out to someone who I had met at a networking event previously and gave them my personal business. Not only was my grass finally greener on the other side, but they told me how much it showed I believed in them when I gave them my personal business. This interaction lead to them to now giving me referrals because I gave him some business.

It is important to understand that with networking, to be successful you must first be willing to give or refer business to someone. There are many forms of referring. You could refer them to save money or refer a potential client. But showing you are willing to give first without receiving, will lead to a deeper connection that will build your sales funnel in the future! Think about it for a second, whom are you going to pass potential business to; someone who you don’t stay in contact with or someone who passes you a few clients here and there?

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Additionally, the word consistency has more layers to the meaning. When you join a networking group they usually they meet weekly or bi weekly. The first layer is to go to as many of these meetings as you possibly can.  Good thing the meetings usually only last only an hour or two and occur during lunch hour! You’ve got to eat, right? So why not make it an opportunity to meet with another entrepreneur and build a relationship? Heck you might even learn a thing or two about your business that you haven’t thought about! Digging deeper, how many times have you been in conversation with someone and you just mid-sentence had to stop and be like “what was that guys name again?!”  Believe it or not people do that to you as well, but you can curve that by meeting the same like-minded individuals more than once and often if possible.

Next, you think about this layer more than any other and this is an important element to a consistent growing business, hand out your branded business cards. Also don’t forget while you’re at your networking meeting to hand out your “leave behinds” or branded collateral as often as possible!

The final layer is simply bringing it all together, because being consistent doesn’t stop at just showing up and talking at every meeting. A huge component to remaining consistent is making sure all your branding collateral has the same type of feel or flow to it. Take time to make sure that your business card matches your three fold brochure and the branded pen you gave them to write with matches the letterhead of the notepad you left behind at the meeting.

Now it’s time to tie it all in together with a seamless flow of branding, this type of consistency will really help your brand be remembered.

What’s Next? Great Question!

It’s time to learn how to become a good refer partner and then to meet an influencer for your business. Which will require some practice. Practice? Yeah, practice! Don’t just read this blog and think you got everything it takes to go to one event and get several leads. Start by taking your time and beginning to “rub-shoulders” with your potential influencer(s), or even more importantly, with a few prospective mentors. Because both mentors and influencers can impact your bottom dollar in a big way!

Let’s face it, a few good business ideas passed along your way, by someone who has been in your shoes can make a night and day difference and impact your business in ways you might not have thought of before. Maybe they help you become more streamlined or make more profit per client and over the coarse of a year, which can bring you more profit than a few extra sales.

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Now back to that word “practice.” I know no one likes to role play or “practice” but it’s important to just get out there and try to connect with people. The best way to get started at a networking event is to tell people I’m new and see if they have any suggestions. I found that this will result in you finding a great first mentor or influencer better than any other way. Don’t hesitate! Get out of your comfort zone and go meet some people.

One Last Thing

One important thing to remember as you get out there and met some people, is to keep in mind that not all networking groups are created equal. That being said, actively listen to people when they are talking. Then ask yourself  “are they in the same stage of business as I am?” Maybe they talk to the same type of prospective clients as you. If they do, it might be possible to obtain an introduction from them.

The important thing is to stop after actively listening and think “if I spend an hour a week for the next six months, can I connect with someone who will be able to pass me business?” In other words, can their potential clients or everyday conversations equate to becoming potential referral sources for your business and vice versa with you for them?

In closing, remember to start your networking journey by getting involved in a group or environment that best connects with your natural strengths and that you feel comfortable speaking to the whole group. With that set up there’s no doubt that you’ll find networking success!