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This was delivered as a 60 seconds at Croydon Referral Exchange on Friday 26th May 2017

Bingo – what a great place to network

This morning I attended the Sutton United FC Business Club monthly networking event – I was a guest of the organiser Jeremy Ramsden.

It was unusual, since it was held within Riva Sutton, Bingo Hall, and yes we all had a game too. Didn’t win, so no chance to shout: house.

There was informal networking over breakfast, some short presentations by members, more networking and then on our way.

Hosts at Riva were Nuala and Tony Lynch, and this is one of three locations they run around the United Kingdom.

All very modern with electronic cards now, nicely upholstered seats and plush carpet throughout. A hugely comfortable environment from what I can remember some thirty years ago.

I expect to meet them again and discuss some corporate ideas too.

Why does networking work?

helping you make or save money or bothThis a question that crops up time and again – I simply enjoy the buzz of a successful breakfast. Yes, I accept networking for some on a cold winter morning is not fun, but you are in a warm and supportive environment, and cold is only felt, when you wear the wrong sort of clothes.

Also if morning is not your thing, then there are lunch time and evening groups – just accept though, numbers will be smaller.

More importantly, I was discussing the merits of networking with a colleague earlier this week, and I explained that an average group with BNI see 200 visitors a year through the door. Not all will join, but that is 200 companies looking to grow their business. Maybe, you have something to offer them through a joint venture? Or a product or service to make their life easier?

So no gate keepers, no voice mail, just you speaking direct to a decision maker.

How much effort do you have to put in to find 200 opportunities for new business? With a networking group it is presented to you, more or less on a plate, plus of course existing members will refer you too. Again no gate keepers, qualified leads and a warm welcome.

I am known as a networking tart – it is a great tag, and a reflection on the fact, I deliver again and again for members around the table, and they in turn deliver for me.

A real win-win.

With over 15 years of networking for my own business, I know it works, so why not give it a go at a number of different groups, and find one you like, then commit, and create a lasting stream of new leads.

Structured Networking delivers every time

Finding the right group to build your network is pretty vital in any business.

Thankfully, I found structured networking many years ago, and I encourage any
business serious about its growth to do likewise.

Presently, I am supporting a group at the
Second Floor
The Exhibit
Balham Station Road
London SW12

Commences 6:45am and concludes 8:45am each Thursday morning.
Meeting fee £10 and the breakfast there is excellent.
Would you like to attend? If so, please drop me a message and I can reserve you a place.

It is a lively group, and I am sure you will enjoy the meeting, should you choose to attend.

Please bring plenty of business cards.
I have over the last 15 years grown three businesses through networking, so am confident you will get an excellent return on your time involved – do come along and give it a go, and see whether you like the environment and meeting format. As one of my friends said the worst that will happen is that you enjoy a great breakfast. 
As a bonus you will pick up new business contacts and tap into their network.

5 Top Networking Tips

These are my interpretations and what works from experience, and forms part of 20 tips – have chucked in a sixth one as well, and please remember Networking is not Selling:

1) Attend events where you will meet people that suit your profession/industry/business. Some events are industry specific. Some also insist upon one represntative per sector. No point going to an event where you are not welcome.

2) Set yourself a target of what you are seeking to achieve at each event. SMART Applies. Mine is usually Five proper conversations with a total of Ten business cards/contacts based on a two hour event.

3) Prepare yourself before attending – right image (formal or informal), business cards, A6 book or pocket diary, pens x 3, own professional badge (costs £6). Often people will attend events without business cards or simply run out. So having a pocket diary or A6 book, means you can write down their details, and make contact after. I just picked up a new business colleague, because I was the only person to do that at a recent event.

4) Speak to the organiser prior to the day to find out how the event works – are you able/expected to address the room, or is it a round table event? So a 60 seconds presentation should be prepared to reflects the needs of the people in the room. And very importantly what you can and cannot do at the event. Some have house rules.

5) Make a friend of the organiser, and ensure he/she knows, who you are seeking to meet, and ask them who are the best networkers within his/her group, who are likely to attend. Ask for a direct introduction. Find out beforehand, whether there is a list of attendees issued, and it becomes a great tool to establish, who you wish to meet and therefore part of SMART.

and a number 6 – follow up by phone everyone you meet, not just email, and if you have promised something, an introduction, a further connection, do deliver. It will ensure people remember you for the right reasons.

Two excellent books to help you on your way

……… and Death came Third by Andy Lopata and Peter Roper, plus

Little Fish Guide to Networking by Jackie Barrie

All three great networking colleagues of mine.

Seriously Networking?

Are you serious about your networking or simply playing?

Networking is one of the most effective, cost efficient methods of generating new business and very importantly lasting business.

Having started in 1996, I now rely on more than 80% of my referrals being created this way, and that is the key. It is personal recommendation, rather than outright sales creation.

We all make recommendations, but very few understand how powerful these are.

I can place an actual value on each referral given and received – are you able to, as well?

Even better I work within a business that is often referred to as Referral Marketing – you can take a look here, if you wish – the 3 minute video won’t bite, and could create more than 10 new income streams for you on a part time basis:

www.future-biz.co.uk

So how important is networking to you?
What works and what doesn’t?

Please share your ideas below.

Wyn makes some interesting points on this subject, and rather aligned to my own, when it comes to networking, since it is so important to go to an event with a purpose, not simply to attend for the sake of being there.

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