Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Choose a Networking Group

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking — Larry James @ 7:30 am
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Susan Bierly, Guest Author

Joining the right networking group can make or break your networking success. Once you take the “Networking Assessment” ask yourself the million-dollar question… Would you refer your #1 Client or your Mother to the members of the group? If the answer is no, walk away, no… RUN!

Things to consider:

NET-ChooseGroup• The type of companies involved (are they marketing to the same end user you are?)
• The percentage of B2B verses B2C members
• Would you have a sphere if you joined?
• How many people were sitting down before the meeting started? (should be zero)
• Are the infomercials (elevator speeches/30-second connections) professional, informative and timed?
• Do the members ask for something specific during his or her infomercial?
• How many referrals are being passed?
• When passing referrals, was there apparent successor “fluff”? People have a tendency to “ramble” and say how great everyone is when they have no referrals to pass
• How many members are in the group?
• How many members were absent the day you visited?
• Atmosphere – is it welcoming? Do they approach you and introduce themselves?
• Do they ask what you do and have a genuine interest in your answer?
• Was the meeting controlled and professional? Was there disruptive side bar chatter?
• Does the meeting start and end on time?
• Are members there early to network?
• Are there guests?
• Did they have a handout for guests on the sign in table?
• Does the group have a mentoring program?
• Did you walk away with the feeling of “I like these people and I felt comfortable?
• Did the facilitator and the members contact you by e-mail, phone or mail after the meeting?

Larry’s NOTE: There are many things to consider when choosing a networking group. Choose carefully. You will want your investment of time to be worth it. I always want to know if the group has a “community” presence. Use Susan’s suggestions and get more info from the Bonus Articles below.

BONUS Articles: Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!
Choosing a Networking Group
Networks that Fit
Networking Events — Which Event Or Organization Is the Right One for You?
Power Your Connections ~ Give Them Something to Talk About!

SusanBierlyCopyright 2015 – Susan Bierly. Susan Bierly is Co-founder of CORE Networking, President of IMC Water Coolers and is an expert in personal and corporate training on sales and networking. Susan has successfully grown her companies over the past 27 years through networking; referrals and repeat business and has never engaged in paid advertising for any of her businesses. Feel free to reach out to Susan at susan@thecorenetworking.com if she can be of help to you or your organization.

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Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ commentSubscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Networking Events — Which Event Or Organization Is the Right One for You?

Sue Clement, Guest Author

Recently, I was talking with a business owner who was grumbling that networking was a waste of time.

Every month they spend days and evening at numerous networking events but hadn’t received any new business. Much to their despair, they’ve just experienced a shrinking wallet and a growing waistline from all those eggs and sausages and rubber chickens.

teamDo you sometimes feel like you’re on a networking frenzy – bopping from one event to another hoping to make that “right” connection and make a sale?

Well, listen up – successful networking is more than attending a dozen events every month. Instead just pick a few that you can commit to and then invest your time to leverage it fully.

Think QUALITY over QUANTITY.

Remember networking is about building relationships – you need to be visible and make connections to get the best result from you time. If you join a group you need to go consistently enough to build the relationship. Only attending once or twice a year won’t work!

InsiderSecrets

To order, click book cover!

With time in such a high demand, how does one go about selecting the right networking group to join or event to attend?

Consider:

The Mix of Attendees

• are they people you connect with
• do they share or service your target market
• can you comfortably pass referrals to them
• do you have anything in common with other members
• does it fit your style – professional, casual, educational, fun etc.

Convenience – if you’re joining a networking group this is essential.

• is the location easy to get to
• is the day or time one you can attend consistently

So before you join a group or run out the door to another networking event – STOP! and re-evaluate your efforts. Which have the best opportunities for you?

But don’t forget – Networking isn’t selling and it’s what happens after the event that makes the real difference.

Make a personal commitment to follow up with everyone you have a conversation with and then pick one person to have a coffee with. It’s a great way to expand your network and grow referrals. You’ll gain increased visibility, have stronger connections, leverage your time AND get more business.

BONUS Articles: Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!
Choosing a Networking Group

Copyright © 2013 – Sue Clement. A dynamic speaker, author, referral expert, and business coach Sue Clement is known for expediting business success. With over 30 years experience in management and sales, Sue brings a depth of real world experience to her clients and audiences. After building a local employment agency from concept into a multi-million dollar enterprise, she is no stranger to the challenges of owning a business and is an expert in marketing, sales and customer service. Sue is an advocate of building powerful networks to leverage one’s success. Visit her Website at: http://www.SueClement.com/

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netHQLarry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Don’t Have Time for Business Networking?

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Tip,Time Management — Larry James @ 7:00 am
Tags:

Shame on you!!

Let’s get straight to the point.

If you are in business you must make time and and take time for networking. Period.

If you are a regular reader of this networking blog, you should already know that networking IS worth it.

wastingtimeWe are all given 24 hours in a day, so what sets the average business person apart from the highly successful business person is their ability to prioritize the 24 hours they are given.

Many people waste a lot of time trying to attend every networking meeting or event that they get notice of and as a result not much gets accomplished. It’s important not to burn out by trying to attend a lot of different groups. That doesn’t usually work. Don’t waste time!

It’s best to pick one group and focus all your attention and energy on developing relationships with the members of that group. The most effective groups meet about once each week. Put the meet up date on your business calendar and never make any excuses for not being there. Consistency is one of the keys. Other members need to see you there on a regular basis. Go early and stay late. There is no such thing as being “fashionably late” when networking. Some of the most effective networking is accomplished after the meeting is over – just hanging out with other members and getting to know them better.

You cannot make “long-lasting’ business relationship when you are jumping from one group to another.

Attending one major event perhaps once a month is okay too. However, I have found that there is not to much networking going on there. There are lots of people, most of which will push a business card in your hand and do their best to get to to buy their products and services. I don’t know about you but I seldom, if ever, do business with anyone I just met and especially someone who is only interested in themselves.

ticktockThe biggest percentage of people in smaller groups demonstrate their interest in you. They focus on building the relationship first – the right way! Remember that you get to choose not only which relationships you want to nurture, but also how close each relationships will be and how you will stay connected. Choose wisely.

Carefully choose the relationships in which you invest your precious time and energy to ensure that your success isn’t slowed and so that you experience a positive return on your investment.

Other than the one meeting a week, the rest of your time should be focused on your business, following up with one-on-one meetings with customers and clients and the members of your group and other business activities that are important to your success. Networking in but one part of your business – it is not the only thing.

Tick, tock, tick, tock!

Don’t let not having enough time stop you from building a strong network. You DO have the time. Prioritize and use your networking time wisely.

BONUS Articles: Networking Events are a Waste of Time…
Choosing a Networking Group
Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!
Breakfast or Lunch? Getting the Greatest Bang for Your Buck!

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Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Networks that Fit

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 7:00 am
Tags:

Andy Lopata, Guest Author

Networks, and networking, are thriving in these tough times. More than ever people recognise that they need to look to others for support if they are to achieve their career and business goals.

The ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of business painted by TV programs such as The Apprentice is not necessarily the way forward in business today. Instead businesses are more likely to achieve positive results through collaboration. Sharing experiences, expertise, ideas and contacts is essential to business success.

It’s great to see this growth in the popularity of networking. There is a danger as well, however. Many people still network because others suggest it and join those groups and online networks recommended by their friends. Such an approach can often lead to disappointment, as one person’s needs are different from another’s and not all networks cater for all requirements effectively.

Besides, if you don’t know what you want to achieve from your networks, you will struggle to achieve anywhere near the potential they offer.

In general people network for one, or a combination, of three reasons. We network to become:

• Better known (profile building)

• Better equipped (brain building)

• Better connected. (referral building)

If you understand how each of these areas are relevant to your business you can look to networking events and networks and ask how they can then help you overcome your challenges. Your networking strategy can then be built around your individual challenges and how each network might help you overcome them.

why_network_diagramDifferent people will join networks for different reasons. For example, for me LinkedIn is a referral-building network (helping me become better connected). Through the viral nature of retweets and the ability to educate my network about my business, Twitter helps me build my profile (becoming better known in the process); while Mastermind groups I join help me overcome my challenges (better equipped).

Someone else may use LinkedIn to raise their profile by contributing to discussions in groups, connecting more broadly and responding to questions, Twitter to learn more about their customers and marketplace by monitoring conversations around their brand or area of interest and join a network like BNI or BRX to generate referrals.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t get other benefits from each of the networks I join, but I do understand my primary reason for being there. Before joining any network, each of us needs to have a clear idea of what we want to achieve from membership, how that network can help to deliver that outcome and the commitment we need to make to the network to achieve the end result.

Better Known

If you join a network to become better known, understand where you want your profile to be strong and pick your networks accordingly. Are your potential clients based in a geographic area, within one or more industries? Do the people who decide to use your services tend to be from one or two key roles within organisations, such as Sales Directors or Heads of HR?

Wherever you need the word spread, understand who those people will be talking to, who influences them, where they are most likely to hear about you and network accordingly.

The growth of online networks has made it even easier to raise your profile and spread the word. Clearly, online networks are a much easier way to reach a wider audience and grow a global reputation, but there are also a large number of niche networks on the internet, serving different industries, interest groups and locations.

A word of warning here, it is one thing to spread the word about your business, online or off. It is quite another to manage what is being said about you. It is important that you have a clearly defined view of what your message is and what you want people to say about you before joining a network.

Managing the message that others communicate on your behalf is the key to developing a strong reputation networking strategy. Ask yourself the question before you connect with anyone else as part of your business strategy, ‘After someone has met me, how would I want them to describe me to someone else?’

Better Equipped

As John Donne said, ‘No Man is an Island’ and this is particularly true now. We need to learn from others, benefit from their experiences and expertise and open ourselves out to new ideas if we are to achieve as much as is possible.

Over the years I have learnt a lot and developed many skills through my networking activity. I have a network of people around me who I feel confident turning to and asking for advice. As a result I rarely have to face a challenge for the first time without any help from people who have been there before.

I’m not alone in experiencing such benefits from my networks. However, many of us tend to get such support almost by accident rather than design. What difference would it make to your business if you were surrounded by people who possessed the skills, expertise and experience you lack and who are willing to share those with you?

Professional associations, mastermind groups, industry networks and many small business networks all offer us access to peer groups, subject-matter experts and support that can make all the difference to our business. Build strong relationships with the people with whom you network and will be able to turn to them for help and advice as well as referrals.

If you don’t have the relevant experience in your immediate network, or if you don’t feel comfortable asking the question, there are many networks set up specifically to provide those resources. From the blogs and clubs on social networks to events with speakers, the support is there, you simply have to seek it out.

Better Connected

Many businesses think primarily of networking as a route to more sales. There is nothing wrong with that, almost all of the business that we generate comes through my networking activities. However, I don’t look to sell to my network.

This is an important distinction. Networking isn’t selling. Picture a typical networking event. How many people do you think have come there primarily to buy? And how many are there to sell?

Most people attend networking events (excluding those with a clearly stated alternative purpose) primarily to sell. But is there a worse place to sell than a room full of salesmen? A different approach will pay huge dividends.

Instead of looking at the people you meet as potential clients, look to develop a relationship with them. Yes, you can let people buy from you if they are interested, but wouldn’t you prefer them to refer you five times than buy from you once? After all, if they trust you and understand enough about your business to refer you, if they need your services personally where else will they turn?

You need to be patient if you are to build a referral network. People refer others who they know, like and trust and that doesn’t happen overnight. During tough times though, those referrals are invaluable, opening doors that have been slammed shut on other vendors and bringing your business to the top of the pile.

If you surround yourself with people who trust you and understanding how you help your clients, you can ask for the connections you need to drive your business forward in good times and bad.

To achieve such referrals, join networks where you can build strong relationships, develop trust and educate your connections about what you do and who you do it for. Look to see how the network will help you do just that and, again, what you have to commit to develop that trust and understanding.

It is great to see networking being embraced by so many businesses of varying sizes and in a wide range of industries, as well as by individuals looking to further their careers. A strategic approach to which networks they join and how they participate within those networks will have a huge impact on how sustainable the growth of network is, and just how successful those new networkers can be.

andynetHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Andy Lopata. Reprinted with permission. Labeled “Mr Network” by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called “one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists” by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy is a featured columnist the US magazine “The National Networker,” as well as being regularly quoted in the national press. Previously, Andy was Managing Director of UK network Business Referral Exchange. Andy has since worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as NatWest Bank, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is a former vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association. Visit Andy’s Website and BLOG.

Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/

Friday, June 3, 2011

Are You a Victim of Network Drive-bys?

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Have you been assaulted by a business card bombardier who only wanted to sell you something? Attended one of those “grab and gab” and “tell and sell” rubber chicken so-called networking events where you left feeling violated?

Have you ever been violated by people claiming to be networking but are just out for themselves and what you can do for them? Networking sometimes gets a bad rap because of people like this. If you’ve been left with a bad taste in your mouth for networking and think it’s just for blood sucking shameless self-promoters perhaps we can share a few ideas that can put all that incorrect thinking in the garbage can where it belongs.

I have attended large networking events that the first two paragraphs of this article describe and walked away feeling like I had wasted my time. The losers are the ones who I do my best to ignore. It’s hard because most of them are in your face pitching their product or service. They have yet to learn that networking is not about “tell and sell.”

There’s also no such thing as a bad event. It is what you decide to make of it. Many times it’s not the networking event itself, but those people who have no clue on how to network. Your attitude is everything. You can always walk away feeling good that you attended if you put aside your expectations and go with the flow. Make the best of every meeting or event you attend.

Any event that has more that two life giving, cancer curing, weight losing, pyramid schemes pitching, morons complaining about the economy, time-wasters, multi-level marketing fruit juice true believers is probably going to be void of any meaningful intention to build business relationships. Plan to avoid these groups. Idiots attract other idiots, and winners attract other winners. You want to go to networking events hosted by winners. Never return to events where most attendees have what I call a seller’s mentality. These people couldn’t care less about what you do. They only care about making sales. Making sales is important, but taking the time to build mutually beneficial relationships is far better.

Look for a group the encourages people to mingle and share ideas; where members are encouraged to exchange business cards, exchange contact information and offer tips on potential business leads. In other words, sharing is the key word.

People make fantastic business contacts that advance their careers immeasurably at networking meetings and events. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate around the losers that attend these events. Sadly many of these people have never been exposed to the intricacies of networking that pave the way to business success.

Here is the truth. You build business by building community. You build community by nurturing long-term business relationships and by surrounding yourself with the kind of people in your network that are of like mind; people who know the rules and who abide by them. Networking events require patience and perseverance and more patience. One of the most common mistakes people make is to go to a networking event and expect immediate results, that simply does not happen.

Networking is not an event. It is a process of building relationships. It is an exchange, not an exploitation you only use to YOUR advantage. Networking is at its most effective level when both the networkers benefit from the relationship. Once the relationship is solid, you gain the respect of others by exchanging quality business leads and offering your assistance to others in any way you can. After that, the referrals begin to flow – slow at first – but worth the wait.

exchangingbusinesscardsIt doesn’t matter how many business cards you pass out (or collect), if you do not focus on getting to know one another on a deeper level.

I share some of my most valuable secrets with others in my network once trust has been established. Many who know me will verify that. The better we know each other and trust one another, the easier it is to do business with each other, and a greater level of trust is but one of the goals. I have no secrets because I tend to be less concerned about competition than most people I know. There is enough business out there without living with the fear that someone else will get all the business if you share your assistance with others.

Networking, for most people, is not a natural skill. It can and must be learned.

Generating business through networking is only as good as the network you belong to. Look for a group that encourages you to attend periodic seminars where you can learn more about networking. Look for additional networking opportunities and educational training from other sources outside of your group that will assist you with cooking with Networking’s Secret Sauce. Scout around for networking events designed to connect savvy professionals seeking to build their networks and create opportunities.

A commitment to progress in learning networking skills is important. Most successful networkers are not born that way. They learn the skills of networking, because they know that the rewards will be increased business and connections that will help them build their business. The rewards for networking can be enormous.

If you continue to bounce around from group to group without at least learning the basics of networking. . . who’s the real loser in this situation?

If you have unrealistic expectations when attending a networking group or event, you will surely be disappointed. Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

It’s better to network with a clear head. Avoid alcohol. If you are going to drink – drink a soda and hold it in the hand that you don’t shake hands with. The condensation on the drink that you are holding causes your hands to be wet, cold and clammy when you are shaking people’s hands.

networkpuzzleI’ve actually heard people say, “I’m always nervous before I go to these things. I’m scared of approaching people, I’m scared of saying something dumb, I’m scared of sitting in the corner alone like a weirdo.” Here is another truth: You can’t act like a wallflower at a grade-school dance and expect to build relationships. You must get better acquainted with the people in your network.

So. . . who are the winners? They are the ones who fit the pieces of the networking puzzle together by getting up some courage, holding out their hand, saying “hello” and introducing themself to someone new. The winners for me are the ones who are still lingering for 20 to 30 minutes after the event ends. They are having meaningful conversations and some are expressing an intent to get together outside of the meeting to learn more about how they can help each other. They focus on being up-to-date with the latest networking strategies. They go out on a limb. They are willing to network out of their comfort zone.

BONUS Article: Think You Know HOW to Network?
How to Avoid Becoming a Networking Jerk
Don’t Be a Networking Jerk!

Larry’s note: A special “Thank you!” to Sarah Michell, CPS for sharing a few ideas for this article.

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Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/

Monday, February 7, 2011

With Wallet or Purse in Hand. . .

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Article — Larry James @ 7:00 am

. . . if your networking group assesses a fee for belonging, please pay your dues on time. They depend on a certain influx of dollars to sustain the kind of networking environment you need in which to network.

Let’s face it, some groups are worth it, others are not.

group_excitementMy own personal belief is that most are – provided you are in touch with the accepted rules of networking engagement. So, in other words, the groups you attend are only as effective as you are. The fees for belonging to the group increase the investment you put into the group and usually correlates with the effort and intensity with which you participate in them. That’s called ROI (return on investment). Membership fees should be budgeted and are simply a cost of doing business. Some group will waive the first month’s dues as a member incentive. Others charge a small door charge for each meeting to offset charges incurred for the meeting.

Dues are one thing, however there are other commitments that are required. For any group to be successful, it must depend on their members for other paybacks. There must be effective activity. By that I mean each member has a responsibility to stay true to the group and its member by continually contributing to its success by actively referring business leads to each other and helping members connect to others in and outside of the group. It all contributes to the groups success. It’s a support system for your own business.

mixBeleive it or not, the networking groups I tend to frequent less are the huge groups where anyone can attend and that sponsors tend to support by their product and services donations. These groups generally attract lots of people but there seems to be less emphasis on developing long-term relationships.

I am disgusted with the “meet” market mass hysteria that seems to follow very large networking events. Avoid this schmoozefest. And. . . nothing irritates me more than having a “Networking Nancy” or a “Networking Ned” shove a business card in hand and say, “What do you do?” and before I can answer, they interrupt with their unsolicited pitch without waiting to see if I care. Like they care? It doesn’t feel like it. Like I care? Hardly. No one cares about your opportunity until they know how much you care. This sort of nonsense is called “premature solicitation.” It gives networking (and you) a bad name. Please don’t do it.

I find that the small groups of 30 to 60 members are much more productive, the members are frequent attendees, know each other well and are known to provide more networking education, professional support, information and exchange business leads more often. Your RIO is often much higher. Membership dues often become irrelevant based upon the amount of business you receive.

Smaller groups are serious about business, but also love to have fun! It’s not ALL about business!

These groups are the ones that must have your financial support to because they often have to pay for a meeting room and some offer breakfast or lunch which are covered by monthly or yearly fees. Membership fees are often very affordable. Other associated costs may include website hosting, website management, newsletter preparation, and autoresponder system to keep in touch with members and more. The goal of smaller groups is to promote the networking group and the individual member businesses. They encourage “one-on-ones” with other members.

Smaller groups have more rules and expectations. Members must attend 80% (varies) of the meetings. Some allow infrequent substitutes in case of emergency but others may not. A meeting with a client or customer usually supersedes attending a networking meeting and may be considered an emergency. Some limit membership to persons at the corporate level, others do not. Most smaller groups are more selective about who is invited to join and most require a recommendation by another member. Some have a “1 vote against” and you’re not invited to join because of a possible conflict with another member. Often you will find only one person in each business category; e.g., one Realtor®, one banker, etc. Some offer New Member Orientations (a great idea, by the way). Referrals are aften checked at the following meeting to verify that people are sending good referrals to each other. (another great idea).

Aways write the meeting times of the group you choose on your calendar, and make the commitment to participate at every meeting. That’s the kind of commitment it takes to get the most for your money!

Bottom line. . . always support the networking group that supports you best. Remember, ROI. Also remember that you get out of a networking group what you are willing to put into it.

BONUS Articles:Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .
Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!”

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Article,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

It has been my experience that eventually it will be time to settle into a single neworking group and focus all you networking energy there. Hard-contact networking groups are groups that are very structured and play by the rules.

In other words, you “must” attend “weekly” meetings where the group’s leader calls the meeting to order, goes over housekeeping stuff, and then everyone gets a chance to do a 30-second connection (some call this an elevator speech) of themselves. Once people know who everyone is and what they’re looking for, then you can get up and network at will. A little structure never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, my belief is that it is required for the group to function effectively.

netFUNIf you haven’t already found a group that suits you, visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. This may take some time to determine your interest in them and their interest in you.

Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Mix and mingle with as many members as possible. Do the members of the group demonstrate a support for one another? Does the leadership appear competent? How often do they meet? (Weekly is always BEST). Ask lots of questions from lots of people there to get a feel for the group. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Do they feature outside speakers with relevant networking topics? Do they feature a member each week for 5 to 7 minutes to help the membership to get more acquainted with their business? Networking should be for fun & profit. Some groups will allow you to visit several times before joining.

Are their meetings at breakfast, lunch or evenings? People who get their day started on a positive note with a breakfast meeting are often the most serious networkers. Lunch is next on my list and evenings are low on my list. I’ve noticed that people who are not doing well, seem to gravitate to the evening meeting and will often head to the bar and are really not that serious about networking. There are exceptions, so choose carefully.

You may want to call a few members and schedule a time to get together to determine their success with the group and overall impression of the members. Look for groups and contacts relevant to your aims and capabilities.

It’s important to note that I am not talking about the ulta-large groups where hundreds attend and few actually now the ins-and-outs of networking. The more relevant your targeting of groups and contacts, the more useful your meetings and referrals will be. A group of 30 to 60 works well because you actually get to know the members faster and can get down to some serious relationship building. Networking is about relationships.

directionAsk yourself, “What can I contribute to this networking community which people will find truly helpful?” Next, work hard to extend that help – whatever it is – to as many relevant people as possible. When the group’s intentions are not so much sales-oriented, but more focused on making long-term relationship, these groups are much more successful.

The goal of the your networking group of choice is to bring together a group of business owners and professionals who are truly best-in-class in their respective business categories, and create a sense of responsibility for each member’s growth and success. The members should make every effort to learn about each member’s business, gain trust and confidence, refer high quality prospects and enthusiastically promote each other whenever possible. These ideas would be a great mission statement for any effective networking group.

Once you find a networking group that fills your needs and whose members you may be able to contribute to, stop and get busy networking. You choose! Take your time and make sure the group (and you) is headed in the right direction.

BONUS articles:Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .
Choosing a Networking Group
With Wallet or Purse in Hand. . .
Does Your Networking Group Have a “Community” Presence?

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Choosing a Networking Group

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Networking in the wrong places won’t help you or your career contacts. When deciding which networking groups to join, consider how much time is actually available to network. There are so many different types of networking events to choose from. Any place where people gather offers a potential networking opportunity. Chosen carefully, an effective networking group can generate business in ways traditional marketing and advertising alone cannot.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a networking group.
Choices
• What are you trying to achieve through business networking?
• How long as the group been in existence?
• What is the depth of commitment at the leadership level?
• What is the format of the meeting?
• Is there a structure or are you just left to your own devices to introduce yourself to people?
• How often are the meetings?
• What steps have been taken to develop a structure that encourages the kind of business relationships necessary to build a successful business?
• Do you enjoy spending time with these people?
• Is there chemistry and opportunities to develop real friendships?
• Who else attends the group and will they be the right people for you to team up with?
• Are members obliged to pass Referrals at every meeting or is it a more relaxed affair?
• Are you required to attend every meeting?
• Does this networking group have a “community” presence?

Decide what time of day you are at your best! Are you a morning person? Or do you prefer to meet for lunch or an evening meeting? Most groups will allow you to attend at least one meeting before asking you to commit financially. When you visit for the first time, observe the level of comfort the group members have with each other. Loyalty within the group is very important.

Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. You may have to pay a small fee for lunch or breakfast, but by attending these meetings it will give you an idea of what to expect and whether or not its members are those you can benefit from and whether they can benefit from your business.

Call the networking event leader and find out what businesses and professions have attended their business networking events in the past. Your goal is to identify the best ways to develop relationships with those who are in the best position to introduce you to potential customers.

I will often go to hear a speaker or topic which interests me or to catch up with a number of business associates and friends in one place. Sometimes trial and error works. You might begin by compiling a list of different networking groups that are currently in your area, or areas where you would like to do business. If the group has a Website, take a look.

Ask your friends what groups they attend and ask if they will invite you as a guest so that you can find out more about the group.

Some people thrive in a structured environment. Others of us find lots of rules to be a drag. Depending on the group you decide to join, make sure that you understand the rules. Some networking organizations are very strict and you can find yourself ousted if you don’t play by the book. My experience shows me that the more structure a group has the more seriously the members take their commitment to get to know each other better and the more “qualified” business leads are exchanged. By establishing this “formal” relationship with other business professionals, you will have the opportunity to substantially increase your business.

If you join a business networking group where you don’t already know the existing members, you have to allow some time for the membership to get to know you and trust that you are honest and capable before you can expect to receive any referrals.

Many groups fall under one of 4 main categories.
choose
• Social Networking
• Business Networking
• Leads Groups
• Networking with a Program, speakers, training, etc.

I prefer the groups that have speakers on various business topics. Each has it’s own unique benefits and can help you with a well rounded presence in the business community. Often the speakers are members of the group given an opportunity to tell others about their business and the kind of business leads that work best for them. For me, education is a high priority.

I also have noticed that groups of between 30 and 40 members – only one member in each category – works best for me. I find it much better to have a lot of time to talk to people about my business rather than have a brief period to talk and then have to sit down and listen to a program. I want to get to know the members and have them get to know me. They will often know most of the others and can help to expand your network quickly. Your involvement in a networking group doesn’t necessarily mean quick returns. I strongly encourage you not to sit next to anyone you had met before.

That is difficult in larger groups because business does not always come in the first contact or meeting nor do they usually have speakers or programs. To me the very large groups are all about social networking and in many cases the people who attend know very little about the collaborative etiquette of networking. They are usually non-structured gatherings set in a social setting like a bar or party. The social business networking group is all about “mingling” or “schmoozing”, you “work the room” and meet various others that may or may not turn into business leads.

I stay away from speed networking events. This is where you have a rapid succession of three-minute one-to-one meetings during the course of a morning or afternoon. It’s fast-paced and usually you collect a lot of business cards but there is seldom much time to develop a real relationship. Collecting a large number of cards from people you can barely remember the next day (and who may well have forgotten you), may be far less valuable in the long run than taking time to get to know a few people better. Don’t waste your time on groups and connections that lack integrity or relevance.

A Chamber of Commerce can be a local, statewide, national, or international organization with separate memberships for each. They are also an opportunity to meet people. When looking for networking opportunities within a Chamber Of Commerce, most people think only of leads groups or the common after hours. The reality is that any function hosted by a Chamber Of Commerce holds opportunities for networking with other business owners and business leaders.

confusedkidFinally, what is the policy about exclusivity to selected market sectors? Some groups will only allow one member from each market category therefore creating sense of exclusivity and again this has its pros and cons. On the one hand, having exclusivity will breed a sense of loyalty between your group members, conversely if there’s more than one of you in a particular market category then sometimes you can build on one another’s particular niche offerings.

Picking the right networking activities and groups and applying a few basic principles can lead to huge benefits for businesses. If you’re confused about what group you should share your expertise with, visit several groups. Ask lots of questions. Then make a decision. The hardest part is making the decision. Once you have made your choice, stick with it. Remember, building long-term business relationships takes time. Be patient. And most of all, be loyal to the group and give it and its members your very best.

Networking is all about reciprocity. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always try to give more than you receive. Always remember, networking is also about building trust, and seeing how your relationship can genuinely help others.

You gotta “LOVE” what you do to be successful at it. The same applies to Networking. You gotta “LOVE” to Network to make it work for you. Download Gail Sussman Miller’s free article (pdf) called, “How to Love Networking.”

BONUS Articles:Using Networking for your Business” by Jack Roberts
Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!”
Does Your Networking Group Have a “Community” Presence?

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/

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