How does one network is the wrong question. In fact, its a dumb question that will lead to many hours spent chasing rooms full of hollow people gathered for free coffee and stale donuts (Exhibit A).
How does one find and/or start a gathering of professionals that will generate mutually beneficial relationships? This is the right question or at least a question that will lead to better results that that other stupid question that you started with.
What do you do if you have an Exhibit A mentality but you want to stop asking dumb questions and attending dumb meetings?
Step 1: Define what you are doing (or what it is that you want to do). Answer the key question - what is your business?
Step 2: Find others who are doing what you are doing?
Step 3: Observe others who are doing what you are doing and take note both of A) what is working and B) what is not working from the subjects you are observing that are doing what you are doing.
Step 4: Attempt to gather with those professionals who are doing what you are doing and that fall into category (A) from Step 3. This is value focused networking.
Networking by its Google definition (ˈnetˌwərk) involves interaction + exchange of information + development of contacts especially to further one’s career. It is a verb. In order for a group to create a collection of valuable persons they must collectively define what value will look like, pursue persons in that vein and then deputize the membership to grow those connections. A cattle call will bring the cattle in, but that won’t do if your group is looking for birds of prey.
Might we recommend our trademark the master equation of quality networking,
A + B = C (When and only when):
A = quality of members
B = quantity of member involvement
C = a strong localized networking group
Conversely, C is not achieved when:
A = a bunch of random visionless people assembled in a room
B = irregardless of their activity, in fact their activity may be hurting them. Stop them immediately and refer them to this article.
Remember, we are not seeking Exhibit A individuals or groups (as referenced in our opening statements). Our rally cry is not a cattle call for the masses of grazing business persons who are willing to sit in a stagnant field of mediocrity nibbling on trampled greens.
We are becoming Exhibit B individuals who are building Exhibit B groups that are following the master equation. We are a gathering of professionals who are birds of prey in their personal and professional lives, hunting and devouring business flesh with their wings outstretched in glorious displays of plumage.
A strong value-centric group should be able to answer:
Why are we here meeting with strangers? Define what the group is about.
What will we do to elevate each other? Establish what quality looks like and apply that as a standard to attracting members and structuring the group.
How will we push each other? Generate momentum by living lives of vision that are enhanced by the sharing of insights, experiences and encouragement exchanged between members of the group.
Members working together to define objectives, elevate each other and work towards collective goals is a decent manifestation of humanity as well as the secret sauce (aka master equation) that can fuel a local group of professionals into mutually beneficial relationships.
Do people know your company exists?
If the answer is no = you have a lot of work to do. A LOT.
If the answer is maybe = smack yourself and refer to "If the answer is no." Being lazy will hurt you more than having bad ideas or taking risks.
If the answer is yes = you still have a lot of work to do, but at least someone knows you are out there.
The reality is simple, before anyone can or will do business with you they need to know you are in business (they need to know you exist).
Who are you?
Sales is selling yourself first. Who are you? What do you bring to the universe or at least to the marketplace you are trying to serve?
What is your business?
Your business is an expression of you, it has a purpose, can you describe that purpose on the spot with as few words as are needed (get to the point).
You know yourself and are confident in who you are + you understand your business and can explain it to others = you are prepared to make yourself and your business known.
What problems are you trying to solve?
Whether you sell products or service, you are solving a problem or fulfilling a need in the universe, what is that for your business? How does your business alleviate a barrier, simplify a process or solve an issue in the marketplace?
Who are the people that have the problems you are trying to solve?
You know who you are, you can pitch your business quickly to anyone that wants to know and you know what problems you are working to solve, now it's time to find the people that would pay to have you assist them in those needs. One of the most effective questions in relationships and business is - how can I help?
Identify those people and get yourself in front of them. Initially your only purpose is to establish that you exist. If you get the opportunity to discuss more than the fact that you exist, make sure you listen for needs that your potential customers share that you could potentially assist them with that they would potentially pay you for.
Once potential is established move from the world of the possible into the world of business, the world where good work is affirmed with good dollars.
Who are people that you don't want to work with?
Another important aspect of this phase of establishing existence is to identify those from your list of potential clients who fit into two key categories - A) those that you would like the opportunity to do business with and (just as important) B) those whom you do not want to do business with. While this listed of unwanted clients should not be a published list, it is an important distinction for long term successful working relationships. We want to be a company that people trust and we want to work with clients that we trust. Some relationships are not a good fit, that is fine they will find someone that is a good fit (maybe even with our help if we know someone that could work well with them). Some relationships are dangerous, these we want to avoid.
There is no substitute for meeting people and sharing who you are and what your company does. Listen for opportunities. Observe those whom you do and do not want to do business with.
Set a goal for how many people you will meet every day and build your book of business on introduction at a time.
If you want to discuss business solutions or marketing ideas, contact MizDotBiz
Let us help you build and execute a plan for achieving success in your personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer