7 Biggest Networking Myths & Facts

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The real issue about networking is that it’s easy to convince yourself not to do it. There will always be an excuse, argument or urban legend you can use to justify your lack of success. Which of these myths have you embraced?

Myth #1: Networking doesn’t work for me, my product, my service.
The networking process works for just about everyone, every product and every service because it focuses on a relationship. Relationships are the core of business success. Networking for results, as a business strategy, is still the single most effective way to build your business because it takes advantage of the natural process of human inter-action. Either building on existing relationships or as a starting point for new relationships, networking is one of the most powerful tools to develop your business or your career.

Myth #2: Networking is easy.
Nothing of value is ever easy. Every worthwhile endeavor requires awareness, skill and practice. Because being successful at networking involves increased understanding of human interaction, selling/relationship skills and business strategy. It’s a developmental process. Networking for results is a continuous learning process of evaluating what is working, what is not working and finding alternatives that improve results.

Myth #3: Networking success is immediate.
There is a misconception that business should flow immediately upon meeting a new person. One fifteen- to thirty-second conversation will rarely bring immediate results. When was the last time you agreed to pay money for a product or service after meeting someone at a luncheon? Financial investments take a long time to mature and pay dividends but when they do, the payback is usually much higher than the initial commitment. Networking is no different. Networking for results means recognizing that relationships require time and effort to build trust and respect.

Myth #4: Networking is about pushing product.
Networking involves a business perspective. The most successful salespeople realize that selling is a people business, not a product business. They know that people buy people first, ideas second and things last. Networking for results focuses on developing relationships through a sincere interest in helping others. Once people feel comfortable with you, they will listen to your ideas and want to hear about your product or service.

Myth #5: Networking is handing out business cards.
Handing out 35 business cards at a business meeting will rarely get your telephone ringing. In fact, most business cards are thrown out. Handing out business cards is not effective networking. The practise of handing out a business card is only effective when people can relate it to you. Networking for results means focusing on meeting a small number of people who will ask for your card because they perceive a need or benefit.

Myth #6: Networking is meeting as many people as possible.
The quantity of people we meet at a networking function usually is in direct proportion to our ability to do business. Meeting fewer people means taking time to get to know who they are, what they do and what their pain and passions are. Networking for results means understanding that selling is a one-on-one activity and focuses on getting an intimate knowledge of a few individuals to find ways to help them.

Myth #7: Networking is attending as many events as possible.
Networking works best with a strategic approach. Your credibility grows faster within a group than across groups. Joining fewer groups, even just one, and committing to it will always deliver more results faster. As members become more aware of your professionalism, integrity and value, they will be happy to buy from you or refer you.

Want more and better results from your networking efforts? Visit www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of my 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Process today.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and have him share his powerful and practical message and your next meeting or conference, email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

 

 

 

Is Face-to-Face Networking Dead?

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Technology, the economic downturn and shifting social attitudes have all impacted networking in the last few years. Some have even surmised that face-to-face networking is declining in both impact and importance as a contributor to sales and business-building success. After scouring the internet and consulting with a number of trends experts, here’s my take on networking today and in the future.

Networking is alive and well.

The Mark Twain quote “rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” is quite appropriate. Rather than lessening in value, networking seems to have increased in importance and impact with all the extraneous factors that have come into play. A recent survey (GrowBiz and Zoomerang) concluded that 86% of business owners said word-of-mouth is important, with 70% citing in-person networking as their primary strategy. Networking is, indeed, alive and well.

Networking and the maturing of social media.

The myth of social media replacing the need for face-to-face contact has dissipated, with social media strategies accepting the reality of incorporating and intertwining online and offline marketing options. The social network phenomenon is gravitating to its true value as a component and complement to the interpersonal relationship-building process that drives our lives and determines our success.

Networking and technology overload.

More and more professionals are committing to “disconnect to connect”; turning off technology and allowing themselves to interact with others on a more personal and intimate level. By choosing to eliminate the distractions and interruptions technology brings, they are accepting the true impact of interacting with others and accelerating the relationship process. B2B and B2C has evolved to B2P (business to people), where it’s been for hundreds of years.

Networking and the trust factor.

There is no question that we have become more cynical and cautious. With up to 80% of people now researching purchase decisions online and the multitude of options available, how do we choose? There is no more powerful differentiator than connecting with others in real-time to share your passion, competence, integrity and professionalism. Building trust is, and has always been, a face-to-face activity. The lost art of social contact is becoming the difference maker in our multiple-choice market.

Networking and business strategy.

The economy continues to impact where we commit our resources and how we deliver our products or services. Every investment must be managed and measured. Networking continues to be the single most cost-effective sales and business-building strategy in today’s complex and competitive environment, but only when it is utilized strategically, to access and leverage the right network, with the right strategy for the right outcomes.

Now, go work your network!

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com or email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

5 Secret Relationship Keys that Accelerate Small Business Success

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As a small business owner, it’s essential to recognize that, even in today’s wired economy, there is a simple solution that delivers all the elements of a successful small business marketing strategy. I said simple, not easy.

This secret strategy, simplistic as it sounds, is rooted in the most basic of business axioms: the majority of business success comes from, or through a small group of satisfied clients and helpful colleagues.

Your most valuable and valued asset as a small business owner, today more than ever, lies with the customers you have (or have had) and the professional relationships you cultivate. Implement these practical, proven strategies to better leverage relationships:

1. Over-deliver value to clients. Your clients make the ultimate commitment by sharing their hard-earned dollars in exchange for your product or service, in spite of all the choices they have. Ensure they walk away perceiving they received more value than they expected or anticipated. As well as being more confident about your relationship with them, you’ll be unleashing an all-too-often under-utilized resource that will have you standing above your competitors.

2. Leverage client relationships. Your clients represent your most powerful asset and your most productive resource. Confirm their satisfaction and collect client testimonials. Then, invest more time communicating with them to discover additional needs or requirements. Ask about their lives and what their interests are. By building your relationships with them, they will think of you first, even when bombarded with advertising about others.

3. Exploit the network effect. The majority of your “best” clients have similar traits and characteristics: where they live, what they do or what they like. Make it a point to ask about these important life categories. When you confirm one or a number these, check what groups or networks they belong to. This may represent a tremendous opportunity for you if you can access, then leverage this group of like-minded people. Why not ask to attend the next event they attend? What a perfect opportunity to get introduced to other like-minded individuals.

4. Invest in creating advocates. You have a network of partners and stakeholders who support and interact with you on a daily basis. Think in terms of your accountant, banker, professional colleagues or business neighbours. What have you done lately to incent these powerful resources to promote you to their contacts and networks? Referrals are reactive. Become the professional others think of first when it comes to your product/service, by contributing to their lives in some way. The principle of reciprocation is one of the powerful forces in the universe. Put it to work for you.

5. Focus on the five percent that matter. Research has consistently proven that a core network of relationships contribute the majority of our results in business and in life (roughly about five percent of your relationships). As a Small Business Owner, make it your mission to identify and nurture these high-value contacts. Once you’ve established who they are, make them a priority and invest more time, energy and resources to remind them of your value. Find a way to continually contribute to their success. They’ll be happy to refer to their family, friends and clients

Accelerate the success of your small business by:

• Confirming client satisfaction and collecting testimonials.

• Invest time to gain a greater insight into lives of your clients.

• Commit to asking about your clients’ networks and tap into these opportunities.

• Keep a written list of your highest-value relationships and invest in maintaining them.


Michael Hughes is known as Canada’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

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Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

8 Guidelines on Receiving Feedback from Others.

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As an professional, entrepreneur or executive, one of your characteristics should be a willingness to grow and learn. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback from others. This information could be a response to your specific request or through unsolicited comments.

The problem with feedback is that it is subjective, carrying both the opinion and perspective of the other person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear comments from others and keep an open mind, even though you know you should. Use these feedback guidelines to help keep you focused and positive:

1.Become more objective. Every person has her/his opinion about any topic. It’s important to recognize that statements and comments in a conversation are usually made in a general context. Try not to become too emotionally involved in the comments of others, especially when they refer to issues that affect you.

2. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Sometimes we ask for feedback, yet aren’t psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with the information. Recognize that if you ask for feedback you’ll get it, and it may not be something you will enjoy.

3. Listen. When others offer their opinion or perspective, have the courage and the courtesy to listen to their complete response. Remember that they’re giving you the benefit of their view of the situation, event or discussion. Listen to learn by appreciating the information you are receiving.

4. Say thank you. No matter what the comments are, offer a sincere “thank you” when your conversation partner has finished. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s remarks without committing you to accept them. This neutral response also allows you time to review and assess the information received before commenting.

5. Dig deeper. One last important point in dealing with feedback is to expand your understanding of the other person’s comments. The two biggest barriers to effective communication are perception and semantics. Eliminate both by asking follow up questions to clarify your understanding of the information offered.

6. Review their qualifications. Before responding to feedback, invest a moment to review the qualifications of the individual making the statement. Ask yourself how qualified they are to make such a remark on this topic. This may allow you to immediately disqualify their words as mere conversation instead of taking them seriously.

7. Question their intent. When receiving feedback, it’s extremely important to assess the intent of the other person. Were their remarks intended to be helpful or hurtful? This simple question can go a long way towards helping you gauge the value of the information shared by your conversation partner.

8. The three feedback questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I prepared to accept feedback at this time? (say thank you anyway)
2. What are this person’s qualifications to offer feedback on this area?
3. What is this person’s intent in offering feedback (to be helpful or hurtful)

Every conversation, presentation or discussion is an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you investing in yourself by having the courage to ask for feedback? Most people will appreciate being asked. Are you looking for more support in this area? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

 

I made her cry, yet she still thanked me!

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In the fall of 2014, I was engaged to deliver a workshop in eastern Canada. A few weeks prior to the event I received an email from someone in that city. She was a successful entrepreneur interested in building a speaking business.  She wanted to meet with me about this dream. This isn’t an unusual request and I am always happy to share my experience and expertise.

We met after my session and I spent about 30 minutes with her. She was bright, enthusiastic and quite excited about pursuing her speaking career. She had some specific questions about the speaking business and her direction. I felt I was polite, professional and supportive. I walked away feeling good about the conversation.

Three months later, my wife and I attended a speakers’ conference. Arriving the evening before, we decided to grab a drink and catch up with a number of my speaker friends. Walking into the lobby, the first person we met was this same young lady, who was chatting with two colleagues. When we introduced ourselves, she promptly announced to the group “This is the man who made me cry.”

I must admit to being taken aback by the comment. My wife was looking at me as if to say “what did you do to this nice young lady?” I was speechless as she recounted the details our meeting. She said that my questions put her into a state of high anxiety and, rushing back to her car, she broke into tears. She phoned her local business mentor and tearfully shared her experience.

She did admit that our meeting forced her to come to terms with some difficult decisions she had been contemplating, not the least of which was to attend the conference. She ended her diatribe by saying she was much better off for our conversation and appreciated my comments. I walked away feeling somewhat better but still a little depressed about the whole encounter.

My young protégée ended up sharing her story a number of times over the course of the conference. I got comments from colleagues who mentioned similar recollections after having had a mentoring conversation with me. By the end of the conference, I accepted the fact that I have a tendency to, when asked, find the right question or identify the right direction, even if it’s not what others want to hear.

Last week, the same young lady in the story above sent me the following email message.
SUBJECT LINE: All thanks to you.
Michael,
Thank you for making me cry. It made me realize that I needed to concentrate more on the speaking aspect of my business. Although I am sure you didn’t intend to upset me, you gave me the push that I needed to get going. I am proud that since I met you I have accomplished:
–          Registered my speaking business
–          Use a CRM online system
–          Joined CAPS!!
–          Designed a website: www.kristatwalsh.com
–          Designed a Facebook page
–          Raised my rate
–          Wrote a keynote
–          Incorporated my keynote into my Networking sessions
–          Booked four sessions this month with more to come.
I can’t thank you enough. I am excited, motivated and truly believe that I am taking the correct path for me.
Your kindness is appreciated.
Krista T. Walsh, CFCP

Are you stuck in your business or your career? Let’s talk. I may make you cry, but chances are you’ll walk away with an idea, insight or information that will propel you to the next level. Maybe we can even work together to help you get there.  Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com with “CRY” in the subject to schedule a conversation

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Conclude a Networking Conversation

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So you made a good first impression, identified some common interests and agreed on follow-up. Now is the time to conclude the conversation in an effective way and move to new opportunities, but how do you accomplish this with professionalism and poise?

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that a networking conversation is really part of a process. They don’t accept that these interactions have a natural and normal conclusion, and that managing it effectively increases the impact with a conversation partner. Here are some practical, proven tips to maximize this important transition point.

1.Accept reality. Conversations end, just as life does. Very few people seem to know how or be comfortable with concluding a networking conversation. You can greatly help others by managing this portion of the process and making it easy for them.

2. Watch for signs. Usually there will be a lack of conversation or a loss of interest in the topic being discussed. When this happens, it means that the energy and enthusiasm of the contact is waning. Become more aware when this happens to better manage the process.

3. Decide to act. Recognizing that there is no further value to the conversation can be a signal to either re-stimulate the discussion or change conversation partners. Identifying this issue and taking positive action is both beneficial and necessary.

4. Consider your partner first. Although some situations allow for a quick exit, remember that it is bad manners to simply conclude a conversation, leaving the other person standing alone. Consider their feelings before using this tactic.

5. Summarize the discussion. When you see no further benefit for either party, you can summarize the conversation and indicate you want to move on. You can also at this point indicate that you wish to allow the other person to meet others.

6. Create a follow up opportunity. As the networking interaction ends, it is usually an excellent point to suggest a follow up opportunity, using an issue discussed earlier in the conversation and requesting a business card.

7. Thank the other person. One of the most important and overlooked parts of concluding a conversation is to take the time to thank the other person. This demonstrates integrity, respect and professionalism.

8. Expand the conversation. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to bring another person into the conversation. This allows a change in focus and can allow you to more easily move to another conversation without feeling you have abandoned the other person.

9. Change locations. If you don’t want to abandon your networking partner but want to create some new enthusiasm in your conversation, perhaps you can ask him or her to come with you to another location such as food table, or to join a larger group,

Successful networkers prepare for success. By creating and developing more options to conclude a conversation, you will be perceived as more professional and personable, which has a direct impact on trust and the relationship-building process. Do you have specific question about concluding a conversation? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

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We all have centers of influence. We know who they are and how they can affect our business, career or life. Yet, we continuously struggle to make the most of their power and potential.

One of the keys to maximizing centers of influence depends on how quickly, and how well, the relationship develops. Follow one or more of the strategies listed below to accelerate the process and reap the benefits these valuable relationships have to offer.

Focus on the process. Relationships follow a natural and defined process. It usually takes time and a certain number of contacts to feel comfortable with another person.
Instead of keying on the results you want, look to manage the process. There are six phases in the relationship-development process. By becoming more aware of them, you can have a direct impact on each. This is especially important when dealing with centers of influence who can offer major benefits.

Use a structure. We all lead busy lives with too much to do and too many people to keep track of. Discovering, developing and leveraging relationships with centers of influence is a priority as well as a critical success factor in business and in life. Using a specific structure to manage and track your highest-value relationships is a necessity. Develop a structure, either on paper or using technology, to keep the process moving forward for mutual benefit.

Be pro-active. We humans are social creatures. We are enamored with the relationship process. Too often, we rely on it to be self-directed. This can be enjoyable but does not help us achieve the results we want and need. Presume every conversation with a center of influence will require a follow up contact. Continually look for opportunities to confirm another meeting, create more value or bring an additional benefit.

Build trust. Trust is the single most powerful characteristic in a relationship. It is the foundation of every important relationship in your life. It can, by itself, be the stimulus to having others help you achieve your objectives. People perceive everything we do to be either for, or against, them. Discovering ways to demonstrate your trust in others, especially centers of influence, can have major effect on their willingness to help.

Clarify your objectives. You’re either working your plan, or you’re working someone else’s plan. One of the main reasons why others are not more helpful to us is that they are unclear as to how they can be of service. Evaluate each center of influence and clarify your needs from each .The more specific and selective you are, the easier you will make it for them to help you. This way, both of you will gain from the result.

Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. This can take weeks, months, or even years. Are you investing the right amount of tome effort and energy on these invaluable resources? I’ve spent the last 20 years building better relationships. If this is an area of concern or opportunity for you, contact me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

7+1 Proven Strategies to Drive Revenues Every 90 Days

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This time of year is fraught with miracle programs that promise overnight results with little effort. The truth is that the universe only rewards singular focus, consistent effort and persistent progress. Here are strategies I have implemented that have produced tangible results.

1.Double Your Learning.

Don’t just read a business book, focus your learning on an area that will have a direct and dramatic impact on your competence, your confidence or your results. Just think what investing 90 days in one area of your business, your skills or yourself would do for your results.

2.Double Your Personal Marketing.

You are your most powerful marketing resource. When you strategically position yourself in a leadership role (network, project, environment) you exponentially drive your visibility and credibility. What personal marketing tactic could you implement over the next 90 days?

3.Double Your Network.

Drive your revenues by identifying and accessing one new network that is aligned with your value. Then leverage it by getting more involved than your competitors. This simple strategy will automatically expand your reach and increase your prospect base for the next 90 days.

4.Double Your Conversations.

Your existing network of colleagues and past clients hold incredible potential, some in areas you could never expect or anticipate. Rather than relegating these important relationships to secondary status, prioritize your highest-value contacts and make it a point to re-connect with them over the next 90 days.

5.Double the Quality of Your Conversations.

The quality of your conversations dictates the quality of your relationships. When you become more intentional about using conversations to build relationships, you build more trust, elicit more value and find more ways to contribute. Commit to improving your conversational skills for the next 90 days.

6.Double Your Follow up.

It’s an accepted fact that almost 90% of professionals fail to follow after an initial contact, yet research confirms that 80% of sales (referrals, jobs, promotions) don’t happen until the fourth contact. Doubling this one strategy for 90 days will give you a dramatic edge on your competitors.

7.Double Your Contribution.

A unique property of the human condition is our sense of obligation when we feel another person has made a sincere and selfless act on our behalf. Identify your highest-value contacts and seek to contribute to their business, their life or their success for the next 90 days.

BONUS STRATEGY.

Pick any one of these strategies and commit to implementing it relentlessly over the next 90 days. Set up an accountability structure that will allow you to measure your progress every day (yes every day!). You will be amazed at the results it produces and how it will change your life.

Do these strategies make perfect sense to you but you find you can’t implement and maintain them? Let’s chat. I can help. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com
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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

How to Avoid the 5 Biggest Association Networking Mistakes

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Contacts and clients often ask me what professional networks they should be part of. The answer is a little different for everyone, but the key is you want to fish where the fish are — joining an association frequented by your target market accomplishes that.

Having stated that, many, if not most, professionals make a number of mistakes that get in the way of maximizing this invaluable resource. Here are the five biggest mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Having a sense of entitlement. Too often, a business professional will join an association under the misguided assumption that membership equals money. Becoming a member is the price of admission, not a free pass to earning revenues or receiving referrals. There is no quicker route to being ostracized than to presume others will do business with you based on membership alone.

Instead, consider your membership a VIP ticket that serves as an introduction. A primary purpose of an association is to act as a peer-to-peer connection point, facilitating contact between professionals. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Think long-term, not instant gratification.

2. Not building new contacts. One of the primary benefits of an association is its ability to exponentially grow a network. Members attend events with the expectation that they will meet quality professionals. Yet too many members fall prey to the comfort of conversations with existing contacts or colleagues. Then they complain they don’t achieve the results they want or need.

Instead, make it a point of seeking out and initiating conversations with association members you don’t know at every event. Fight the urge to spend all your time with your existing network. Set a new-contact goal for every event. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make new contacts and how many opportunities arise as a result of your efforts.

3. Focusing on revenues, not relationships. Association events represent incredible opportunities, regardless of whether your interest is professional or personal. Too often, members see these conversations as an opportunity to qualify and close a new client. When is the last time you bought anything of significant value after a 30-second to three-minute conversation?

Instead, counterintuitive as it seems, put your business agenda on hold. Reality is that we buy people first, ideas next and things last, in that order. Focus your interactions on connecting with your conversation partners on a personal level. You’ll be perceived as more personable and professional, and she/he will be happy to meet with you again. Isn’t that what it’s about?

4. Failing to follow up. One of the biggest misconceptions about association membership is that simply attending events generates results. Networking at events holds incredible potential, but requires additional effort and energy to build relationships that lead to results. Yet research consistently confirms that 90% of professionals fail to follow up.

Instead, accept that association networking is about creating and developing relationships. Presume you will want to follow up with every person you meet. That way, you will usually find a reason for the other person to want to re-connect with you, when the real selling can start. End every networking conversation with the question “Can I follow up?”

5. Seeing association networking as a one-dimensional activity. Associations, by their very nature, bring together like-minded individuals. Too often, members attend events with a pre-conceived notion of the value others can supply. They have a narrow view that is strictly client-centered. When they meet someone they don’t perceive as a direct link to business, they quickly move on. Is this you?

Instead, realize that you and your association counterparts are all connected by common interest (whether personal or professional). Expand your thinking about how you can help one another and invest in building collaborative relationships so that you become the person they will think of first when it comes to your product or service.

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience

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