Setting Networking Goals

Do you have goals for your business? Do you have marketing goals and sales goals? We all know that goals are important. The question is, how well do we apply that knowledge?

If you don’t have any networking goals, you are, unfortunately, in the majority. Obviously you believe in the power of networking, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Why, then, would you wait to write networking goals for your business?

Networking seems to be one of those things that many people do as a reaction to no or slow business. It’s often forgotten. It’s rarely treated as an integral part of how we grow our businesses. Not only is it frequently neglected, but many people are haphazard and far from systematic in their approach to networking. This approach to networking can keep you from ever getting close to becoming an efficient networker. Setting networking goals helps you avoid the pitfalls of treating networking as an afterthought–as something far less than what it can be for your business.

One way to systematize and organize your approach to networking is to set measurable goals. Without a goal, you have nothing at which to aim. More important, if you don’t have a goal, you can’t measure your results.

When setting networking goals, keep in mind that each goal you create should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed with a deadline.

Start setting SMART networking goals and you will be well on your way to reaping the great rewards of successful networking!

‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Good

It’s not called “net-sit” or “net-eat,” it’s called NetWORK! Effective networking is all about learning how to work your network effectively and appropriately.

I also believe that there are times to “notwork.” As a matter of fact, I’m fairly confident that when I’m 70 years old, I won’t say, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office.”

BigBearDeckDay

I believe that we entrepreneurs, business professionals and salespeople need to make sure to take time to . . . notwork. I do my best “notworking” at my lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. I’m writing this blog from my deck, pictured here during the day (above) and again at night (below).

BigBearDeckNight

Each year we have a family tradition that each family member gets to pick two things that we all do together during the time we are up here. We type it up and, as each item is completed, the family member puts his or her initials next to his or her item, and we post it on the refrigerator (we have nine years posted there so far). Last night my daughter chose S’mores around the campfire. Today, my son chose a “mental health day” (in the Misner family this means nobody in and nobody out–we hang around the house, watch TV, read, play games and mostly veg).

Success is many things to many people. To me, it’s having the time to spend in a place I love with the people I love. That is true success.

Sometimes, “notworking” is a very good thing.

What Percentage of Your Business Do You Get From Referrals?

We recently surveyed more than 3,000 people at BNI.com. We asked the participants what percentage of their business comes from word-of-mouth or referrals.

We found that fewer than 5 percent got no business from referrals, and more than half of the respondents said they got more than 70 percent of their business from word-of-mouth or referrals!

Look at this and another nine surveys on networking at this LINK.

Does this measure up to your experience? I would really like to hear from you as to whether you agree with the majority of the respondents to our survey.

Friends, Family and Referrals

Last Saturday night, my family and I decided to go out to dinner and ended up eating at a brand-new restaurant in the town where we live. We hadn’t actually heard anything about the restaurant and didn’t even know it existed, but it caught our attention as we drove down the street and we decided to try it out.

The food was exceptional and I was quite impressed with the service and the ambience, yet there were hardly any other patrons besides us in the entire place. As we finished our dinner, the owner of the restaurant walked over to our table, thanked us for coming in, and asked us how we liked everything. I told him that we would definitely come back and asked him how long he’d been in business. When he answered that he’d been in business for three months and that things were coming along slowly but surely, I asked him what he was doing to promote his business. He replied that startup costs hadn’t left him with much money for advertising but that he had a huge extended family and he was banking on the fact that with them on his side, word about the restaurant was sure to spread pretty quickly.

I looked around the restaurant (virtually empty during the dinner hour after three months in business), smiled, and said, “So, how’s that working out for you so far?”

I went on to explain to him that I was somewhat familiar with the whole “networking thing” (I revealed that networking has been my career for more than 20 years) and that people who like, care about and respect you will not necessarily always refer business to you. We chatted for quite some time and I referred him to one of my articles, “Getting Referred By Friends and Family.”

For anyone out there who is currently relying on friends and family for referrals, here are a few things to think about:

  • Oddly enough, the people most familiar with you are often the most casual about giving you referrals.
  • With friends and family, relationships grow out of more personal associations; therefore, it may not even occur to a family member to refer business to you–unless you make a point of asking for it.
  • You need to train friends and family to refer business to you.
  • One of the first things you can do is get them to listen for key words and to recognize circumstances where they can, through you, provide a solution to someone’s need or problem.

What are your experiences with referrals from family or friends?

Networking for the ‘Difficult to Refer’ Business

After a recent speaking engagement I did, a woman appoached me and asked my advice on the dilemma of getting qualified referrals for a “difficult to refer” business. She was passing as many referrals as she could to others, but because her business seemed to revolve around such a niche market, the business referrals she was receiving were slim to none, and she was starting to get discouraged.

I referred her to an article I wrote a few years back that addresses this exact predicament; and since I’m sure some of my blog readers are in businesses that are more difficult to refer than others, I thought I’d shed some light on the subject here. For networkers in businesses that don’t easily generate word of mouth, there is hope for your company because there are still ways you can successfully network and build your company’s reputation.

Years ago, I learned that speaking engagements are a great short-term approach to getting new business while you’re working on the long-term process of word of mouth. You see, when you schedule an appointment with someone you think might be interested in what you’re selling, that time you spend with them–usually an hour–is very important. Well, imagine having that same one-hour appointment with 20 to 50 businesspeople in your community, all at the same time! In effect, that’s what you’re doing when you’re asked to make a presentation at various clubs and organizations.

So, how do you go about getting on the calendars of these business and service groups? It isn’t as hard as you might think. With a little creativity, you can put together a presentation that will be informational, educational and even entertaining. Most important, you can get referrals from people to help you get in front of them. Usually program chairs are scrambling to find someone different, engaging and interesting to come in and present to the group. Your job is to help them find you!

To see a sample of the letter I used to send to program chairs when I owned a consulting firm, click here to go to the article. Getting speaking engagements can make your company easy for anyone to refer and it can also get you a lot of clients while you’re busy building your business.

If you have any comments or thoughts on other techniques that are useful for businesses that are “difficult to refer,” I’d love to hear your feedback.

Where Does Your Business Come From?

Where does your business come from? In a survey of roughly 4,000 people at the BNI.com website, roughly 73 percent of the respondents said that they get most of their business from networking and referral activities. Only 12 percent get most of their business from advertising and less than 10 percent get most of their business from cold calling!

What I find amazing about this is that most colleges still focus on courses on advertising, and most big companies still train their new salespeople how to cold call! Despite that, most entrepreneurs and salespeople (according to this survey) don’t get the majority of their business from these two methods.

Where do you get most of your business from? Comment here on this blog and take the survey (and others) at this LINK.

Networking On Your Business Channel

I wanted to let everyone know about a great online resource called YourBusinessChannel.com that I recently started working with. Since the beginning of this year I have recorded seven online TV shows discussing networking tips for YourBusinessChannel.com, and I am impressed with the fact that the site offers free access to viewers everywhere and broadcasts shows based on viewer feedback.

I’m constantly encouraging people to respond to my own blogs and podcasts because it lets me know what kind of information people are really in need of, and it helps me post information that’s globally relevant to as many entrepreneurs as possible. I really like the fact that YourBusinessChannel recognizes the importance of viewer feedback, and I think that the value it places on the audience’s needs and opinions is reflected in the quality material covered on its shows.

The shows covers advice and information from top experts on subjects such as social networking, employer branding, increasing profitability, e-mail marketing, etc., and anybody can access them at any time.

To learn more about YourBusinessChannel, CLICK HERE.

 

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