Teach Your Employees To Network!

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately to promote my new book Masters of Sales (www.MastersBooks.Com), and on my way to a book tour date I sat next to a young man in an airport who struck up a conversation with me.  We got to talking about what each other did for a living and after explaining what I do, I found out that he worked for a small, family owned grocery business.  I commented that it was probably tough to be the “little guyâ€? in competition with the larger chain grocery stores and that his employer must be doing something right to still be in business. 

Being in the business of networking for over 20 years, it’s a no-brainer to me that my comments and inquiries about the young man’s employer were a prime opportunity for him to explain what made his company special and to possibly make a valuable networking connection that could bring in business and possibly mean a promotion for him.  But instead of taking advantage of the open door I was extending to him with my curiosity, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, we’ve had the same customers for years, so I guess we’re just lucky that they’re so loyal.â€?

That conversation reminded me how critically important it is to teach your employees to network!  Many business people simply don’t do this one simple thing which could dramatically boost their networking efforts.  It doesn’t matter how much you may know about networking, or how well you network to promote your business, you never know what you could be missing out on if your employees were trained to network for you.

The bottom line is that until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well – or even at all – is unrealistic.

As you might imagine, it’s far better to engage your entire staff in your word-of-mouth marketing campaign-not only at startup, but also throughout the life of your business. When you show employees how to network efficiently, they are much more apt to make efforts to network; and you will have a greater chance of gaining more business.

Try holding focus groups where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from other customers, friends and family.  Bring in local networking experts for in-house trainings.  Better yet, send your staff to a networking class, like the one’s conducted by the Referral Institute.   If you belong to a weekly networking group, bring your staff to those meetings one at a time so each member can see firsthand what networking can produce.  This also helps your networking partners feel that they know your business better, since they’ve been able to meet the people in your company.  

Networking is a group activity; so, make sure to get your whole team on board with the process.  If you’ve done anything to get your employees involved in networking your business, I’d love to hear about it.

0 thoughts on “Teach Your Employees To Network!

  1. Hi Ivan

    Whilst not really on the subject of teaching your employees to network, since I am a “one woman band”, I would like to comment on the power of networking, which I have recently discovered!

    I have been in my own buiness for almost 8 years, working from home and relying on 3 or 4 big corportaes to keep me going, much like the young man you mentioned in your blog. I manage to keep my head above water, and needless to say, when my big clients were quiet, I went into panic mode! In essence I was just plodding along until I discovered BNI! Whilst I am not making millions out of networking (yet!), I cannot tell you what a huge difference BNI has made in my life!

    To this end I wrote a blog which I placed on my fledgling website (launched about 6 weeks ago and designed by a fellow BNI member), and I would like to share this blog with you…

    BNI – A new dimension in my life

    It was my lucky day when Neil from Computer Troubleshooters came to look at a problem I was having with my computer. Not only was he able to fix a problem which had baffled 3 other techies, BUT he asked me if I had heard of BNI.

    I hadn’t! So he proceeded to tell me that BNI stood for Business Network International and that it was an awesome networking organisation, especially for small business owners like myself.

    He invited me to attend a BNI meeting as a visitor and decide for myself whether I wanted to join.

    BNI is divided into Chapters or branches, situated worldwide and the one that was closest to me was the Masters Chapter in Rosebank. As it happened, although Neil is a member of the Fourways Chapter, his colleague Arjen is a member of the Rosebank Chapter and he welcomed me with open arms.

    One meeting and I was sold!

    Not only have I made a lot of valuable contacts and generated some additional business, BUT I have made a lot of friends, and attending the early morning breakfast meeting every Tuesday has become one of the highlights of my week!

    As luck would have it, I joined just prior to the BNI annual conference, which was awesome. I picked up a wealth of invaluable tips on networking and marketing and made even more useful business contacts! And, I had a lot of fun and won a fabulous prize too!

    What a combination – making money and having fun!

    You can’t beat it.

    Check out the BNI website at http://www.bni.co.za or ww.bni.com and if you have any queries, just shout. I would be happy to fill you in.

    Joy Dembo
    Masters Chapter
    South Africa

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