Word-of-mouth marketing is a sure-fire way to generate new business. A single referral can bring in a chain reaction of business, as one satisfied customer tells others, who in turn tell still others. Itâ€™s no wonder that networking groups pay off handsomely in terms of referral business and a membership in a good networking group can be worth a considerable amount of money, especially if you calculate the time you spend each month and the business value of your time.
Make your time and efforts worthwhile. Don’t squander your opportunity by doing the wrong things in those meetings!
Success in a networking group comes when the rest of the group members trust you enough to open up their best referrals to you. Until they’ve seen your work, you have to earn that trust by demonstrating your professionalism to them. Since I founded BNI almost 25 years ago, I’ve seen how people have truly succeeded in networks and I’ve seen how people have totally wasted their time in them.
Here are the top ten ways to waste your time in a networking group (avoid all of them):
# 10. Go ahead, air your grievances among your fellow networkers and guestsâ€”after all, they really want to hear about your complaints.
#9. Wing it in your regular presentations to fellow membersâ€”you’ve got plenty more chances anyway.
#8. Use 1 to 1 meetings to talk about your networking groups’ issuesâ€”instead of learning a lot more about each other.
#7. Focus your efforts on selling your services primarily to the members of the group.
#6. Don’t rush to follow up on a referral when someone gives you oneâ€”Hey, they know where to find you if they really need you, right?
#5. While other people are doing their introductions, thatâ€™s the perfect time to think about what referrals you can give that week.
#4. Why invite your own guests? Just focus on those who show up.
#3. Don’t worryâ€”if you get to the meeting late, no one will notice.
#2. Be absent, it’s no big dealâ€”you can just call in your referrals, right?
And the #1 way to waste your time in networking groups—–
#1. It’s OK, take that phone call or text message during a meetingâ€”it won’t bother anyone, and it’s a real sign of professionalism that everyone admires.
So there it is – The Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group! Imagine how you might respond to someone in your networking group who continually exhibited the behaviors above. Would you be anxious to pass them referrals? Of course not! You would be hesitant to pass them any referrals at all because you would be pretty well convinced that they would be just as unprofessional and irresponsible with your valued connections.
We all need to beware of these ten pitfalls and take great care to avoid them. They are great reminders that doing business through word-of-mouth marketing requires a special ingredient that only you can supply: your commitment. You have to commit to the process from the beginning. You have to be an active, responsible, professional, accountable participant and show your fellow networkers the respect, attention, and support that you want them to give you.
You see, the key concept in referral marketing is relationshipsâ€”and referral relationships donâ€™t just spring up full grown: they must be nurtured. Avoid the ten mistakes on this list because they are detrimental to growing your referral relationships, and they will cause the time you spend in your networking meetings to be nothing more than a waste of time.
Focus on growing your referral relationships by acting in ways that are exactly opposite of whatâ€™s described above and concentrate on building relationships based on mutual trust and shared benefits. Youâ€™ll get a lot more out of your group and so will your fellow members. So, print out this list, memorize it, and share it with your fellow networking members.
Remember, your network is not something you can start putting together when the need arises. When you need it, you need it now. You need to begin developing relationships now with the people whose help you will need in the future, and your networking group meetings offer the perfect opportunity and the perfect place to do this. Make the most of this opportunity because thereâ€™s no room for wasted time in the life of a true networking professional.
Called “The Father of Modern Networkingâ€ by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), the worldâ€™s largest business networking organization. His latest #1 bestseller, The 29% Solution can be viewed at www.29PercentSolution.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com).
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