GUEST POST BY ROBYN HENDERSON
Thousands of dollars are spent every year on attending networking functions, special events and forums, but how do you know what is the best use of your networking time and effort.The networking bottom line is: EFFORT = TIME + MONEY + ENERGY
So let’s look at how much time, money and most importantly energy do I have to expend on networking to achieve rewards for my effort.
1. Know What You Want
The more specific you are, the more chance you have of achieving your targets. Many people attend networking forums looking for business. And when asked specifically, what sort of clients are you looking for, the response is usually-anyone, I am just looking for business. Basically people do want to help other people and the more specific you are, the more chance they have of assisting you. The clearer you are in your mind, prior to attending the event, the more chance you have of turning business cards into business. You may be looking for clients with 50 plus staff and a turnover of $10 million. Alternately, a home based business with 1-2 staff may be your target market.
Practice describing what your ideal client looks like. This may include their specific industry, staffing levels, their target market, their requirements for your product or service.
2. Do Your Research
Identify as many players as possible in your target market. Their company names, locations, diversification, whether they are part of a global organization, NZ produced products- it’s very important to do your homework on your ideal client. Identify your competitors, who is currently supplying your product or service to your target market. Do they provide a better or a poorer product or service than you do? What are their strengths and weaknesses? You may be saying to yourself, this is irrelevant, I just want to sell my products. However, if you don’t know what you are competing with, you don’t know where you stand in the market place.
3. Know How Others Can Help
Once you are very clear on point one and two, you then need to look at your own network, both personal and business. Identify whom you can approach to form a strategic alliance. This alliance will be based on a win/win arrangement-formal or informal, where both parties benefit-either financially or strategically. If this connection is not based on a win/win arrangement it will be short lived and more than likely damage your reputation or theirs.
GUEST POST BY LINDA COLES
“I used to go to those events but never gone anything from them” is what I hear time and time again. If this statement has made your ears prick up because it sounds like you or someone you know, read on.
What is networking?
Usually over drinks and nibbles or even breakfast, a group of business people get together to meet each other, usually for the benefit of their business. The format is usually mix and mingle with a drink, a guest speaker on a business topic such as goal setting, or the current economic climate, that type of thing, and then another chance at the end for mixing and mingling again. What you get out of it is up to you.
What do I talk about?
It is not usual to stand there spouting about how great you and your business is, that would be rude and annoying, but to find out about the person you are talking to and how you may be able to help them. They in turn will more than likely do the same thing to you. What is important here is that you start the conversation in the first place, ask plenty of questions about them or their business, ask for a business card and think how you can help. You may know someone who is in need of their service or product, someone in your contacts known as the second degree.
What is the second degree?
Just because you may not be able to help them yourself, you will have your own set of contacts. Your other contacts are what is termed as the second degree, and these contacts can be very powerful. Just as you have a second degree, so have they. With this in mind, you don’t need to sell yourself or do business with the person you are connecting with, and it may take time for any thing to come out of it, maybe several more networking events that you see each other at, but you are definitely sowing the seed.
A common mistake at such events is that you think “this person I’m talking to is of no use to me, so I’ll hurry it up and move on to someone better”. Big mistake. You just never know who is in their second degree network. You don’t know who or what they are looking for, so ask them, you may be able to help.
Somebody may be of “low quality” to you but “high quality” to someone else that you know. By connecting them with each other, which lets face it, will only cost you a bit of time, could have great results for them. You will be remembered as a great help, and when in the future they do need your services, they may seek you out.
Find out where all of the networking events in your area are and go along. I get 95% of my business from attending such events and the spin off, and try to get to at least 1 per week, large or small. Contact you local BNI, Enterprise Scheme, Women’s Networks and any other opportunities that are around. Even attending training sessions and free seminars, they are all opportunities to meet first and second degree contacts.
By Linda Coles of Blue Banana
GUEST POST BY ROBYN HENDERSON
People often miss networking opportunities basically because they are not prepared. Failing to plan they say, is planning to fail. So let’s look at the 5 main networking mistakes people make.
1. No Business Cards
Picture yourself having a frantic day at work, you dash to the networking function only to find you have forgotten your business cards. Even if you meet “Ideal Prospect No 1″ at this event, writing a phone number on a serviette or coaster is bound to give the wrong impression.
Solution: Place business cards NOW in your wallet, car and pockets of all your suits. Never ever attend a networking event without business cards.
2. Network Only At Business Networking Events
Many people see networking as something that they just do at specific business networking events. They attend a Chamber of Commerce event and network then on their return to their office, they stop networking. Next month back to the Chamber and they are networking again. Rather than considering the unlimited networking opportunities that may crop up at their social, cultural or sporting groups. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. Who do they trust more than the person they play touch football, tennis or run with?
Some people think it is inappropriate to mix business and pleasure. As a result, they continually become annoyed with their peers when they learn they have gone to a competitor to provide a service they personally could have offered.
Welcome to our list of top business networking sites. These are places where you can upload your profile information and connect and network with business people around the world to promote your business, get referrals, find jobs and lots more… all from the comfort of your computer.
Part one of this list includes; LinkedIn, Ecademy, Xing, Ryze and Plaxo - combined these networks could put you in the reach of over 50 million business people worldwide.
Before you dive right in you might like to read this excellent post by Beth Kanter, “Eight Secrets of Effective Online Networking: Tips, tricks, and tools for using and managing your social networks wisely.”
Beth wisely points out the importance of checking out the various online networks to make sure they’re a good fit for you. She says: “Don’t spread yourself too thin: When determining an online presence, don’t just choose the most popular sites, or the site that you think matches your demographic; take some time to find the people you are trying to reach and the conversations you are trying to join.”
Most importantly, target two or three online networks and nurture and invest time in these networks - as you would with any network you belong to.
This list is based on networks we belong to as women in business and/or networks that colleagues belong to..
About: LinkedIn has 30 million professional members from around the world representing 150 industries.
How it works: Membership is free, or paid memberships offer more networking tools.
You create your own profile page - with lots of info about your work experience and education and then you create connections to people you know. Through these trusted connections you can ask and receive introductions, referrals and business and job opportunities.
Our comment: LinkedIn is like a huge rolodex…and it’s simply all about building relationships; using the six degrees of separation theory to find someone through your online contacts. The site is cleanly designed and easy to use.
Network your way to SUCCESS
Networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, meet new clients and tell others about your business - and that’s what the Her Business Networks are all about.
There are 20 networks around the country. Meetings are informal with networking, socialising, trading, sharing and mentoring being key ingredients. Each meeting presents a guest speaker who has achieved national or international success. All the networks meet monthly, most in the evenings from around 5.30pm. Meetings run for about two hours.
Read about past meetings here.
In a nutshell: If you’re a woman in business, the Her Business Networks are a fabulous way to be inspired and to not feel so alone in running your business!
Win tickets to hear Wendy Lawrence’s journey from naval pilot to NASA astronaut
Wendy decided to be an astronaut after watching the first moon walk at the age of 10. She achieved her dream. Wendy is the recipient of six medals and awards for service, achievement and leadership and is a veteran of four space flights.
This talk will be a fascinating insight into the life of a highly accomplished woman. Join us for this one hour lecture and bring your questions… How do you focus and achieve your goals no matter what? How do you make good early career choices? What is Peer - Mentoring and how can it help you achieve your goals?
Date: Thursday October 30th, 1-2pm, Hilton, Princes Wharf
Venue: Level 1 Function Room Hilton Hotel, Princes Wharf, 197 Quay St. Auckland
Cost: $15 per ticket Book and pay on-line, entry by prepay only
Register quickly online to secure your place: www.akywca.org.nz
Ph 09 375 9242
Brought to you by the Community Programmes Team at the YWCA Auckland
The YWCA Auckland are currently working on a lecture series targeted at young women between the ages of 18-30 to deveop women’s leadership, encourage more women to make the most of opportunities and provide practical opportunities for women to network and gain knowledge from other women.
In order to do this successfully they’d like to hear feedback from young women on how this initiative can be useful for you and ideas on how it can be a success.
To go in the draw to win tickets to Wendy’s talk, simply reply below by answering one of these questions:
- if you were on a training course - what would you like to learn?
- what areas of education would be appealing to you - in your career, in your personal life?