Seeking Engagement is Critical for Networking Groupsstring(52) "Seeking Engagement is Critical for Networking Groups"

Engagement involves a promise and an action. To achieve success in your business networking relationships, you and your networking partners must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are several ways to engage in this process and they all begin with a culture of learning – learning effective networking strategies, and learning about the members of the group. 

Get to Know Your Fellow Members

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network? 
  • Have you invested time to educate them on the key benefits of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind when they meet someone with a need for what you offer? 
  • Likewise, have you taken the time to become educated about your networking partners’ businesses so that you can do the same for them?

The more people in your networking group who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals for each other. The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and continuously educated about your fellow members’ businesses is to do regular and consistent individual meetings. I have seen this over and over – business professionals who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on your Unique Selling Proposition?
The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them in laser-specific elements. In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about a single key element, product, or benefit of what you do, including how your clients feel AFTER they work with you.

There is research behind my recommendation of reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners. According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not. They state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.” 

I believe the types of activities I’ve shared in this blog are critical to the long-term success of networking groups and their members. I encourage you to implement and practice these strategies to promote engagement within the membership of your group.

Why You Need a Unique Selling Propositionstring(41) "Why You Need a Unique Selling Proposition"

When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words that come out of your mouth?  If the words aren’t ready to speak or don’t come easily, then read on. . .

When someone asks what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct and memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds, so a long, drawn-out answer to their question isn’t going to work.

Many people believe that to network successfully and set themselves up for getting the most referrals, they need to tell everyone who will listen (and some who won’t) every single thing that their business does. This misconception leads many people to believe that by talking to every person in the room, they’ll maximize their referrals. This is not the case at all. It actually bores the intended audience and overwhelms them with more information than they could possibly remember.

Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP) for your company, business, or service that you can use when you are networking. Your USP will be a brief summary of your business – the key word here is brief. You’ll want to share this description concisely while being as engaging as possible. This will help your audience walk away understanding what you do, and if you have described your business in a compelling way, they will be more likely to remember you because you entertained them and kept them listening.

Short, Powerful, Informative

I think of the USP as a personal answer to the age-old question that we’ve all been asked a million times: “What do you do?”

When someone asks what you do, avoid giving a bland, general statement such as “I’m a consultant.” Half of the business people in the world can say that, and it really doesn’t tell anybody anything. 

Instead, you could say, “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.” This is short, powerful, and informative.

Another example is someone who says, “I own and operate a sporting goods store.” They could be more specific by sharing the benefits that customers receive from their business.  “I deal in sporting goods, specializing in team sports. I’ve outfitted most of the local high school football teams, and I offer custom-fit equipment at a substantial discount with a quick delivery.”

A USP is something that must be tailored to each specific business, but can you see how it is more effective than just telling people you’re a consultant or a store owner? Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose for your USP, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.

Remember, a good USP is designed to help others understand the unique value of what you do. It will make you much more effective at business networking events and functions, and it will also make you more comfortable when introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.

Your USP should be short, sweet, and to the point, without being vague or misleading. Your goal is to open the door for a conversation, not leave any potential contacts confused. The biggest indicator of a good unique selling proposition is that it gets people to ask you more about your business and keeps them genuinely interested in talking about what you do.

I’d like to hear how your USP has helped your networking results.