Monday, May 19, 2008

The Secret to Networking

Recently I was talking to a couple of local business owners that were "dropping out of networking".

As we talked, I wanted to learn why they were soured on the local networking scene and I learned some very valuable information that confirms what I have witnessed too.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, there was at one time a list of over 100 different networking groups of various sorts. They ranged from weekly meetings with no formal agenda, to monthly meetings where you stand up and give a 1 minute talk about yourself, to service clubs, and social clubs.

When I was looking for a fast start when I returned to the radio business, I ended up joining a B.N.I. group due to the organization and the people.

It is by far, one of the best business networking groups around because they follow a principal that many other groups have not figured out yet.

That principle is "Givers Gain".

If you try and sell your goods and services to the people in the room at the networking group you are attending, then, for the most part, you are doing things backwards. Instead of being a Giver, you come off as a Taker.

Stop trying to sell the other members that are in your midst and instead, listen to what they have to offer and think about who might benefit from getting to know this person. This is referral based networking and this is what has worked for generations.

Referral Based Networking is simply a form of Word of Mouth. For example, if I ask you who you would recommend as a dentist, and you liked your dentist, then you would give me his/her name.

B.N.I. is a referral based networking system that offers members exclusivity and requires regular attendance. They also have a system for passing and keeping track of referrals.

Unfortunately, most of the other business networking groups fall short of being a referral network, and this is why I sometimes hear negative comments on the concept of networking.

There are differences in each B.N.I. group, and I believe that the one I was a member of for three years is one of the best around.

There are other ways to network, including using the web and free services such as to stay in touch and meet others.

Remember that networking is about building relationships and that you want to be a giver, not a taker. Help enough other people and you'll be helped in return if you are honest, trustworthy and "referable".

That is the Secret to Networking.

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