Referral Marketing –

What do you really want, Networking or Generating Referrals? If you go to networking meetings or groups to get referrals and then wonder why you don’t, this article will explain why.

Networking groups are not the same as referral groups. FACT.

If generating referrals is part of your business focus read on.

Networking groups are valuable meeting places to catch up with people and to be introduced to new people who could form the basis of friendship, support or collaboration. However, they are not, by definition, a referral group.  That is not to say there is anything at all wrong with networking groups. They serve a useful purpose in bringing people together but the challenge they face is setting up a referral program where all members benefit.

Referral groups tend to have a structure, education and coaching in place to nurture relationships and to educate and inspire people to introduce you to potential clients. There’s a great deal to the strategy that many of those in the networking groups simply do not understand.

Sure, some of the members get business but they’re not aware of the level of the business they could be getting if they had the right structure, the right coaching and the right support.

If you meet any BNI member of long-standing you stand a very good chance of meeting someone who knows what they’re doing. Networking groups turn to these people to help them understand the process but being a good networker is not the same as growing a group.

Networking Events –

How to Approach a Networking Event.  

10 Tips How to Turn Business Cards into Business at Any Networking Event

Most people just front up to a networking event and wing it.  It’s squeezed into a business day, busy week and little thought is given to the potential significance or opportunity that the event represents.  Given a little more thought and a lot more preparation most people can learn how to approach a networking event and turn business cards into business.

  1. Decide why you are attending. Just because it says ‘networking event’ in the title, doesn’t
mean you have to be there. What exactly do you plan to achieve? All too often I see people
    coming away from an event and especially from exhibitions, laden down with business cards and
literature but frustrated about what they have achieved. We always get that which we focus on
and if we don’t have a focus …. guess what we will get! Measure your results against your plan.
  2. Will your contacts be attending? Do they know you will? Tell people from your address book that you plan to attend. Email your customers, your prospects and potential strategic partners and let them know you plan to be there too. Include a link in your mail so they know how to get more information (some will appreciate you thinking of them). Send a message out on Twitter and suggest a meet up before, after or during the event. If you feel you are going to get something from the event, it figures that someone else will. So help promote the event as that, in turn, promotes you.
  3. What is your Game Plan? What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to meet? Potential buyers, introducers,
strategic partners or perhaps you just want to stay in touch with existing or potential customers.
  4. Who is Exhibiting? If the event involves an exhibition, who will be exhibiting? Is there anyone from the list who could potentially be a good strategic partner for you (even become a potential customer). Let those you believe have potential, know in advance, that you have noticed they are exhibiting and would like to stop by.
  5. What will you take? Do you have enough business cards – product information – name tag –
    note book or recorder- pen – camera. You are likely to meet a great many people and you won’t
remember everything.
  6. Plan Ahead! Put all you business cards in one place and have a specific place to put those you collect from other people. Consider how you will remember your conversations and what you promised to do (follow up – send information – arrange a meeting). That’s why I find a recorder and camera useful. I have these apps. on my iPhone of course. Certainly, a pen and notebook keeps all your notes in one place.
  7. How can I help you? Most people attending networking events and exhibitions are there to
further their business in someway. Good practice is to listen first, speak second. Apart from actually asking ’who are you looking to meet today?’ a good question at the appropriate moment is always ‘how can I help you?’ or ‘how would I recognise a good client for you?’ Make sure you know the answer if they ask you the same question. If their answer is ’anybody or everybody’ they haven’t given the question enough thought… and neither have you. Be very specific about what you want and you are likely to get it. Anybody and everybody is in reality, nobody (too general).
  8. No one is Interested in What You Do. Remember that people are not really interested in what you do. They are only interested in what they are left with, after you have done what you do. So understand what people are left with, after you have done what you do. Don’t focus on what you do – no one is interested.
  9. Follow Up is Critical, so you might as well PLAN IT NOW. You will waste the time you spend at
the event, if you don’t review the information you receive. What time have you allowed to do this and when will you do it? If you collect 25 cards at the event, how will you get that information into your database system. You do have a database system don’t you? Have your organised a time and method to follow up? Will it be by email (personalised of course),
postcard (most effective), phone call (brilliant) and what will the purpose of the communication be? To stay in touch, to arrange a meeting, to send your stuff? Most people don’t follow up because they don’t plan the time to do it. If you happen to be exhibiting you need to allow at least a day to get this done and to arrange follow up – or get someone to do it for you.
  10. Don’t send stuff that’s not been requested. So many times people meet and a few I haven’t
met, end up with my contact details and think they have been given permission to make an
    unsolicited sales pitch, sometimes with expensive literature in the mail. Do you imagine this gives me a positive impression of this person or company or will I put them in my ‘pushy – must avoid’ file. Send stuff by all means but ask permission first.

What next? Face the fact that you are unlikely to turn business cards into business on the day (98% people don’t buy from strangers). However, if you make a good impression AND you follow up, you will have the start of a potentially fruitful relationship that will either result in business or an introduction to someone who will want to buy your product or service.

Plus, you will be doing what hardly any of your competitors will be doing.

Have fun and enjoy the experience.

Network Marketing –

Starting your own business?

More people than ever, are starting their own business or deciding to become self employed.

This is why you need to consider the hidden benefits of the network marketing model

You are already aware of the enormous challenges you have funding that business and maybe you have reserve funds to cover the inherent cash flow risk. Personally, I have started more than one business and know the challenges of paying for premises, employing staff, manufacturing or holding stock.

All that, before the real challenge begins.  The challenge of finding paying customers/clients while money flows out the door on fixed overheads.

There is more to starting your own business than you can imagine.  Finding paying customers is where marketing comes in and many people new to business know how much to reserve for marketing.  You need to held enough money back to create visibility and to stand out from your competition.

Inevitably, it takes longer to get those paying customers than your business plan suggests.

So in the meantime, find out how network marketing works, from the perspective of someone who has been successful in this area.  Don’t listen to people who have failed, for they are not in a position to teach you much.

Creating an network of people who will actively recommend you, for payment or for love is one of the most powerful marketing strategies around.

You may refer to them as affiliate partners, joint ventures, referral partners but in every event, we are talking about marketing your products or services through a network of individuals.

How do you learn the practicalities of these strategies?

Join a good referral group (and they are not all good) or invest some of your time with a company who creates sales through a network of individuals. A network marketing company (and they are not all good).  Risk is non existant, the additional profit stream is useful and if you learn fast, with the right company, you could generate life changing levels of income.  Above all, you will create a network, learn to engage with people, positive people and discover personal development skills that will last you a lifetime.

Along the way, you will learn strategies you can use for your own products or services for less than the cost of attending a seminar or engaging a marketing consultant.