6 Little-Known Chamber of Commerce Member Myths & Facts

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In the early stages of my business, I came to realize that a steady stream of new prospects was a requirement for business success. By extension, I accepted the need to network. As I researched the most effective networking organizations, I quickly recognized the Chamber of Commerce as an ideal business-building vehicle.

Not only was it the largest networking group in the region, but I could attend a number of events in a month and meet different people. Quite frankly, at this point in my business evolution, I wasn’t thinking any further than this. After over 15 years of involvement, here are some insights that may be helpful to you.

FACT: History – default business network.  The Chamber of Commerce (and its sister organization, Board of Trade) concept has been in place for hundreds of years. Its original purpose was as a “local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses”, advocating on behalf of members in a multitude of areas.

It is recognized as the most respected business network in any community. In fact, in many smaller towns and cities, the Chamber of Commerce is the default business network, and joining the Chamber is a required step for every new business. More often than not, it is the largest business network in a region or community.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, you instantly leverage its years of organizational credibility, integrity and respect. A Chamber of Commerce membership carries with it instant credibility as a business person. You are immediately perceived as more professional and competent.

FACT: Opportunity – access to pre-qualified market sectors.  The Chamber of Commerce acts as a magnet for business. Its varied membership allows access to a number of markets with one investment. Because it appeals to such a broad base of businesses, it offers an almost unlimited basket of prospects over a longer period of time.

The Chamber of Commerce’s multi-pronged approach to supporting business means that you will naturally have more options to connect with other business owners or corporate professionals. Because it spans the entire spectrum of business involvement, it automatically creates additional opportunities to showcase or promote the talents, skills or value you have to offer.

One of the negative issues with more concentrated referral groups is that as your business grows, you can lose relevance. One of the Chamber’s most important benefits is that it can act as a marketing vehicle over a longer period of time as your business evolves and grows, leveraging your personal and professional credibility to new prospects and expanded market segments.

FACT: Member breakdown.  The Chamber of Commerce is, by its nature, a community of small business owners. In fact, the majority of Chamber of Commerce members are consistently in the small business category (less than 20 employees). This means that if you want to do business with this demographic, the smartest thing you can do is become a member and leverage its power and potential.

Even though small business makes up the majority of members, every Chamber has a nucleus of larger companies that see benefit of Chamber membership. There could be any number of reasons for this: being part of the Chamber’s advocacy role, targeting small business or good corporate citizenship.

The key point to remember here is that Chamber of Commerce membership can be used to target selected larger companies that are part of, or associated with, the Chamber’s membership or mandate. In fact, the Chamber can offer incredible opportunities for building relationships with these bigger member-companies.

MYTH: Beware the sense of entitlement. One of the most common mistakes made by business owners or professionals is to presume that Chamber of Commerce membership equals results. Too often, the decision to join is made with the mistaken assumption that the registration fee will automatically make the phone ring, cause others to beat a path to your door and make the cash register ring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Chamber of Commerce represents a wealth of options and opportunities. Joining the Chamber is the first step; it’s the price of admission. Without your willingness and commitment to become involved, the investment will be wasted. Membership carries with it the requirement to participate, allowing others to become aware of the value your represent and the benefits your products or service provide.

MYTH: instant clients and referrals. One of the fastest ways to destroy personal and professional credibility is to presume that your Chamber of Commerce membership includes an automatic gateway to clients and referrals.

Some new members misconstrue that others will buy from them or refer them to their clients, simply because of the Chamber connection. There’s a huge gap between professional courtesy and permission to buy. Remember this as you connect with other Chamber members.

MYTH: Membership buys personal credibility. Your Chamber of Commerce membership pre-supposes both professionalism and integrity but, like an introduction, it buys you short-term credibility. There is no question that you will be well-received by other Chamber of Commerce members when you approach or contact them, but the rules of business still apply.

We buy from people we know, like and trust. We refer professionals we know have value. Building relationships is still the single most effective business-building strategy. The Chamber of Commerce provides environment and opportunity. You must prove your worth, one conversation, one member and one relationship at a time.

Do you want more info an how to better leverage your Chamber of Commerce membership? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com with “Chamber” in the subject line to receive a complimentary copy of my Ultimate Chamber of Commerce Member’s Success Guide ebook.


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

 

 

 

5 Ways to Overcome Adversity.

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Every entrepreneur encounters adversity. It’s an inevitable part of the risk-reward equation that comes with this career choice. The question is not if you will face adversity, it is how you face and overcome it.

Adversity comes in any number of ways: an unexpected downturn in the economy, a business decision that doesn’t pan out or some external factor that negatively impacts your enterprise’s operation. Use these proven strategies to effectively deal with adversity:

1.Re-visit your passion. Adversity, whatever form it arrives in, usually brings with it a huge emotional impact. It can stop you dead in your tracks. Its partners are frustration, anger and denial, any of which can lead to a negative spiral. When you sense these emotions taking over, take a step back. Think about your reasons for becoming an entrepreneur. Review the steps you have accomplished so far. Remind yourself of the success you have achieved. Above all, put the current situation into its proper perspective: another issue to deal with on your path to success. Re-build your courage and your commitment. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.

2. Face the facts. As a business owner you have a bias for action, but continuing to implement ideas or activities that aren’t producing desired results is a recipe for disaster. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Is your business achieving its desired outcomes? If not, why? No matter the cause, being aware of both expected and actual results is the starting point of dealing with adversity. Getting to the facts, rather than avoiding reality, is the first step to overcoming adversity.

3. Clarify your situation. Less than stellar results can come from any number of business-related issues, areas or factors. They can stem from specific impact points. You need to clearly and objectively identify the source of the problem(s). Is this an external factor you had no control over? Is this an internal area that hasn’t worked out as planned? Is this a business decision, made with the best of intentions, that hasn’t worked as anticipated? Adversity often arrives as a huge wall that overwhelms and incapacitates. Work your way back, focusing on the individual criteria that created the situation. Focus brings clarity, clarity creates direction, direction fuels action.

4. Revise your plan. Determining a fact-based perspective is the single biggest step in overcoming adversity. Re-visiting your business plan and revising it to accommodate your current situation allows you to become more objective about the requirements for future success. Once your situation and its options have been set to paper, you can focus on the required actions or resources. This new tool acts as a barometer for current conditions, feeds your confidence and can be shared with others to gain input and feedback. Adversity is an indicator of a need for change. Confirming what you need to change, clarifying it as part of your plan and committing to positive action will dissipate adversity’s impact.

5. Redouble your efforts. Now that you have dealt with adversity’s emotional impact, clarified the realities of your situation and the reasons for it, and revised your plan to accommodate your current and future needs, it’s time to get to work. Adversity will always be a part of your entrepreneurial environment. Focused activity that uses adversity as part of gaining experience will always re-build confidence and accelerate results.

NOTE: Use adversity to your advantage by:
• Not wasting time and effort on its emotional content.
• Focusing on the facts of your adversity.
• Improving your planning.
• Committing to results-focused action.

Are you dealing with adversity? You are not alone. Let’s talk. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com with “adversity” in the subject line. 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

building relationships, Building trust, Business-building, follow up, Job or career search, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking in your association No Comments

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.

Networking and The Relationship Factor: How Long is Long Enough?

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Success in business and in life is all about relationships. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Networking ignites the process, but you must be willing to invest enough time to build both personal and professional trust, discover mutual value areas and confirm the contribution you can both make.

When these three key areas are maintained for an extended period of time, the results and benefits grow exponentially. Are you thinking in terms of a 90-cycle with these important people? Here’s why investing for 90 days is a requirement for networking success and pays enormous dividends :

Extends the prospecting process. Most networking situations do not allow you to properly evaluate a prospect. By investing in a 90-day follow up program, you can extend your discussion to include additional topics or information areas. You will have the ability to confirm the value you have and discover other areas of need.

• Demonstrates professionalism. A true professional is always prepared to make an investment of time, effort and energy. By expecting and suggesting follow up, you demonstrate quality and integrity. By expanding your commitment to 90 days, you confirm your professionalism. In fact, using this discipline will often accelerate your desired outcome.

• Builds trust. One of the most powerful influences on any decision is trust. Following up for 90 days increases trust by demonstrating your willingness to invest in the relationship process over an extended period of time. Also, a sincere interest in meeting again heavily influences the other person’s level of trust and comfort.

• Expands options. Following up gives you an extra edge because you increase your depth of knowledge about the other person’s situation or circumstances. Additional discussion will allow you the opportunity to elicit more information about their emotional state.

• Activates the principle of reciprocation. One of the incredible benefits of following up is that the other person will relate to your actions. Because you are willing to invest more time with them, they feel closer to you and will listen to your side of the story. When you adopt a 90-day perspective, you have many opportunities to contribute to their lives, increasing your leverage and the chance to have them help you achieve your objectives.

I’ve designed a structure that allows anyone to manage and maximize their highest-value contacts on a 90-day cycle. The system can be customized to individual or company needs. It does not require complicated software or technology. It can be implemented on a piece of paper or on a simple document, and expanded as needed. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com to receive a complimentary copy.

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Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him share his networking message and methodology at your next meeting or conference, visit  his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips: 8 Ways to Focus on the Other Person

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Conversation is a give and take between two or more individuals and each participant has a contribution to make. Taking time to listen to others demonstrates what they have to say is important to you. Here are some ideas on how to make the other person feel important.

1.Maintain eye contact. Keep your eyes focused on theirs. Do not continually look away or at others. One guideline is to look into the other person’s eyes for about 30 seconds, then look away for a few seconds

2. Ask follow up questions. Questions that follow into the same topic to show you are listening. They reflect a sincere curiosity about the other person’s situation and are an excellent opportunity to get additional information.

3. Use probing questions. By asking gentle probing questions around some of the general areas of a person’s life you can usually find a topic that will bring out some common ground or an issue that the other person is passionate about.

4. Use verbal cues. Verbal cues are simply expressions of agreement, interest or enthusiasm. Statements like “ Wow, that sounds great”, or “I like it” are an excellent way to demonstrate that we are interested and focused on the other person

5. Use body language. Studies show that over 50% of communication is through body language. Leaning in a bit from the waist up or tilting the head a bit demonstrate active listening and are a physical expression of focus on the other person’s words.

6. Give them the option to lead. Some people want and need to lead the conversation. Being aware of this and responding to it are an excellent way to focus on the other person. This makes them feel in control and these good feelings extend to include us.

7. Reply with sincerity and respect. Giving your total attention to the other person through sincere and respectful replies to questions and comments during a conversation are one of the powerful demonstrations that you are focused on them.

8. Include others. Some people have difficulty participating in group conversations. Make an effort to engage everyone in a group. This gives them their opportunity to shine and they feel they are contributing.

It takes maturity and discipline to put the other person’ needs first. In doing so, you enhance the perception of your professionals, integrity and confidence. Want more information about this topic? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. let’s talk. 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

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

building relationships, Building trust, business-building, Business-building, follow up, Generating referrals, Job or career search, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success No Comments

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

building relationships, Building trust, Business-building, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success No Comments

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

Mastering the 3 Characteristics of Networking for Results.

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Most professionals think of networking as a social activity; that it’s simply about meeting others. The truth is that networking is fundamental premise of our society. It’s the process that accelerates careers, builds businesses and drives results. Here are the three fundamental characteristics that all successful people know, use and maximize.

1. Networking for results is relationship-based.  The really smart people know that being successful in business is mostly about relationships. Good salespeople know that selling is a people business, not a product business. Getting ahead in many cases depends as much or more on who you know as what you know. The people we know or can know or will know are one of the most important success factors in business success.
Networking for results is finding, developing and leveraging relationships with key persons who have the ability or willingness to help us achieve our business goals. Developing and managing these important relationships speaks to the reality that we buy people first, ideas second and things last. By focusing our energies, efforts and expectations around maximizing the inter-actions with others who can or will help us achieve our business objectives, we take advantage of one of the most powerful human motivators.

2. Networking for results is developmental.  Consumers and prospects today are informed, educated and fickle. They are bombarded and overwhelmed with information about every new and improved product or service. We have come to recognize that everyone is trying to sell something, especially at a business level. We are closed, cautious and reserved when meeting new business acquaintances. We let down our guard only when we begin to feel comfortable and safe. We want to know that the other person accepts and understands us.
Networking for results is the process of creating and developing trust in relationships using a focused strategy, a specific structure and inter-personal skills.  Unless and until we feel more and more comfortable and trustworthy of another person, we will not open up about issues and opinions that are important to us. Once an appropriate level of trust has been built, we are prepared to share and benefit through a relationship

3. Networking for results is reciprocal.  Each of us has at one time or another been helped by another person. We associate strong feelings with receiving assistance, especially if it is sincere and unselfish. In this world of “me first” and “what’s in it for me?”, when someone goes out of their way to help us, it generates a great sense of comfort and trust. By reversing the usual course of relationships, especially in business, we exponentially raise the other person’s sense of trust.
Networking for results is cultivating the philosophy of developing a relationship by focusing emphasis on the other person’s needs, interests and situation.  One of the strongest feelings we can know is being obligated to another person. The key words here are sincere and unselfish. The principle of reciprocation is one the most powerful tools to help build trust so that others will be more open and receptive to us and our business ideas.

Do you know where you need to improve for more and better networking results? Take the networking skills self-assessment at http://networkingforresults.com/dna.php


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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