The 3 Networks You Need to Join If You Haven’t Already

In the book Room Full of Referrals (click here for the paperback edition and click here for the Kindle edition) which I wrote with Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons, we talk about the Top Ten Referral Marketing Basics and number one is:

RfOR

Belong to Three Different Networks

  • A Service Network like the Rotary Club, for example.  Service clubs are devised for just that, to provide service to an organization.  Your main reason for joining a service clubwould not be to gain business.  Most people truly believe in what the organization is doing and have a passion for it.  While your main goal is to serve the community or organization, you will also be building relationships and, yes, business may come to  you through this group.  However, it should not be your main reason for joining.
  • A Casual Contact Network, like a Chamber of Commerce.  Casual networks provide a way for you to meet a larger amount of people at one time.  There are less restrictions with this group, and they mainly do large mixers.  A key benefit to the casual contact networks is that you can meet people who would be good referrals for your referral sources.  Having a large sphere of influence is important in your being able to give lots of referrals on a regular basis.
  • A Strong Contact Network, like BNI. Strong contact networks like BNI provide exclusivity.  For example, only one person per profession is allowed to be part of the group.  They also incorporate more structure and commitment from their members, which in turn greatly increases the amount of loyalty and participation.  These groups are designed to gain referral business.  The key is to only belong to one of these types of groups to ensure follow-through, commitment and loyalty.

When you create a strong referral network, you’ll want to be able to give lots of referrals to them as well.  You’ll need a wide sphere of influence within which you have substantial credibility, so as they need things in their life, you can refer them.  It’s as Referral Institute® Partner Mike Macedonio states in the book:

“It is not just the breadth of the relationships that you have, it’s the breadth and depth of the relationships that are the most important.”

Being involved in three different networks will give you breadth–all you have to do is create the depth! 

What are you going to do this week to expand your networking involvement to include all three networks and to deepen your relationships?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum.

The NEW Definition of Networking

In this video, I’m joined by my partners in the Referral Institute®, Mike Macedonio and Dawn Lyons, and we discuss the definition of networking.  Twenty years ago, I wrote The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret and in it I gave my definition of the word “Networking.”  Times have changed since then, however, and Dawn came to me with two suggestions that give “Networking” a new, updated meaning.

Based on Dawn’s suggestions which we discuss in detail in the video, the NEW definition of Networking is:

“The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community.”

After watching the video, let us know your thoughts on the definition of networking.  Do you have a different definition, or any feedback on what may be missing from the new definition of networking that we’ve provided here?  We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Expanding Your Overall Sphere of Influence

The foundation of any word-of-mouth marketing effort is people.  Your sphere of influence represents the overall number of people with whom you network. These are people you know either very well or as casual acquaintances.  To evaluate your sphere of influence, take inventory of the people you already know.

Surprisingly, many people have never established effective networking relationships with others they’ve known for a long time.  Preparing your inventory is as simple as asking yourself, “Whom do I know?” or, “Who knows me?” This includes everyone with whom you interact or might interact with, personally or professionally:

  • Clients
  • Business associates
  • Vendors
  • Creditors
  • Employees
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Others

Go through your software database, e-mail contacts, Rolodex, mobile phone contacts and business card collection. Discard the names of all people who have moved on or with whom you’ve lost touch. Analyze your relationships with the ones you feel are still current. Ask yourself, “How well do I know them?” Then determine whether each individual is a Strong Contact (a close associate with whom you will network actively) or a Casual Contact (an acquaintance with whom you will network passively).

Remember, the more people you network with actively, the greater your sphere of influence will be.

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