4 Steps to Building an Effective Networking Program

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your networking program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!

2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.

3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).

4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is this: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways so they’ll want to refer you business!

 What are some specific ways that you approach networking? . . . What tactics do you have for making diverse contacts and helping others creatively and enthusiastically?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’ll send a free, surprise gift to the first ten people who respond to these questions in the comment forum below.  In order to ensure that you receive your gift, be sure to e-mail larry@bni.com with the subject line “blog comment” and your full contact information [mailing address and phone number (your phone number is required by the shipping company in case they need to contact you in order to deliver your package)]–I assure you that your contact information will not be shared or used for any other purpose than to ship your gift to you. Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


14 thoughts on “4 Steps to Building an Effective Networking Program

  1. 4 Steps for being effective…excellent article to make you think about networking. Really like the idea of being involved in more than one type of business or networking group.

  2. Great outline to follow, thank you for sharing. My business is Title Insurance. My best sources of business are Realtors and Mortgage Lenders/Brokers. One creative thing that’s been incorporated into my business is a unique digital document storage. This technology offers the Realtor and Lender on the transaction “drip” marketing for as long as the client owns their home. All of this is offered at no charge and requires no setup on their part. It has been received very well…now to get the word out! Thank you, Dr. Misner, for all you do!

  3. Nice article, i liked the simplicity and straight forwardness.
    I approach netwroking as building rapport with others and seeing how I can help them.
    The tactics I use is typically inviting them to a nother event where I believe they will benefit and meet referral sources.
    We send out movie tickets and gift cards to coffee places as thank you to people, we try and make it personal.
    I’m looking froward to seeing other ideas too!

  4. Hi Ivan, I think the one thing that all of your tips illustrate is the importance of being a proactive participant when it comes to networking. For me, it’s all about rolling up your sleeves and ‘getting stuck in’, as it were.

    A couple of tactics I use are;
    1) I pro-actively connect people where I see any kind of synergy – I’ve always found that putting people together where they may be able to collaborate can prove to be far more beneficial than referring them a ‘one-off’ piece of work.

    2) As a Sales and Marketing man, I often share tips in my 60 second / 10 minute / other presentations and this tends to work really well for me. For instance, a couple of weeks back I was contacted by someone I met networking who called me up to engage my services. On the basis that he’d applied two of the tips I’d shared and both had generated business for him, he just wanted to start working with me. What’s more, he never questioned my charges because he’d already seen results and had made more than enough money to start working with me.

    Looking forward to hearing some of the tactics that other people are using.

  5. Great advice Dr Misner!! I love to help people and that mindset enables building relationships to a high level of trust very quickly. Everyone we meet needs help with some problem. After enabling other people to talk about themselves, asking the right questions almost always results in referral opportunities. As someone famous once said, “Never pass up the opportunity to help someone!”

  6. I too love the simplicity of this lesson. I wake up everyday and ask…”who can I help?” and “how can I help them?” Networking does not come naturally for me so I really have to work at being consistent. One of my mentors once asked me, “do you want to be shy and broke or outgoing and rich? (she meant in relationships as well as a successful business:) I always try to think of that question as I am entering a network event. The success of my business will depend on the quality of the relationships I gain via attending those events. Thanks for all you do Ivan!

  7. Ive been networking for years and have not found anything tat comes close to Bni.
    Most networking is social networking. Bni promotes real business and this alone sets us apart

  8. I love to meet people and get so excited with them about their thing. What is their passion? What get’s them excited? Not everyone has one, but I love finding someone with excitement. I add mine to theirs and watch out! We are best buds from there because most people don’t get excited about what others are. THAT has helped me tremendously. Givers ALWAYS Gain!

  9. I love the message about getting started. So many new members have said that and it is true for many that are not naturally inclined.

    I have a regular schedule of a (more civic) business association on Monday at Noon; Toastmasters and a networking group on Tuesday morning; and BNI on Thursday morning.

    This schedule takes up a lot of time beyond the meetings themselves, but it is all beneficial time. I even have time to get some work in.

    I have an odor elimination service, which is rather unique, and as such sometimes requires a demonstration of the effectiveness of my product. That often leads to sales of the product itself for personal use. At some meetings I give samples of my odor neutralizer as door prizes. After I have established myself, those door prizes become a coveted item.

    I intend to join at least one more regular group, or at least visit one more per week. Thanks for your continuing advice.

  10. Great tips, thank you!
    I like to offer free speaking engagements. It gives me the opportunity to show my expertise while educating the attendees. This helps with networking / referrals. They can also sign up for a newsletter along with Facebook and twitter, where I put informational pieces and or share news articles that pertain to my profession. Lastly, get involved with your specific trade associations. Once you become a member of a trade association in your professional get your name out there. IE leadership positions and or chair committees, etc.
    Jeff Stein, LPI, CCDI

  11. I left my job from non-for-profit organization to start PM Leadership with every few connections with business people. At one time we organized a half day workshop to promote a Rich Dad Advisor Blair Singer’s program where I exposed myself to about 200 business people. Some of them are now become BNI members in our first BNI Chapter in Cambodia.

    I organize monthly mastermind group where we share knowledge and new ideas about business. Recently we got authorization from Rich Dad Asia to official run weekly CashFlow Club Cambodia. This is where we meet new people most of whom are business owners and want-to-be business owners.

    I notice that when our participants ask my mentor Rich Dad Asia “how to change from S self-employed to B business owner? ” His short answer is “Join BNI” I have found that running CashFlow Club for an educational purpose is a good way to attract people with the right mindset to network with. Some of them have become BNI members and they are active members because they join for financially changes in their lives and the lives of others

    This year I start reading 29 Solution and I am creating a networking plan following the 52 strategies from the book. Last two weeks, I applied one of them and now I personally connect to one of the world’s top 10 leadership gurus.

    I am proud to be a BNI member and become one of the director consultants. I am on my way to attain my personal and business missions faster than before.

    Thank you Dr. Ivan for bringing BNI on earth.

    Best regards,

    PM Leadership, Cambodia

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