It only takes one hour a week to become relationally fit!
By Curtis K. Belgrave, Director -- BNI Caribbean www.bni.com
There are people who want your services or products as badly as you want to sell them. However, generating business in today’s economic climate requires learning to systematically apply new networking skills.
Years ago, running a successful business was limited to serving a community of people you knew--your friends or maybe even your friends’ friends. Today, consumer choices extend beyond their immediate communities. Therefore, your network must also extend.
The skilled networker in today’s business climate must know that putting the process on automatic pilot won’t yield results; they have to immerse themselves in a culture of learning. Learning new skills demands commitment, discipline, and endurance. These three objectives should be the basis for building relationships and attaining your ROI.
In extending your network, it is essential to develop a systematic method of finding new people that will compliment your business and help to drive a steady stream of referrals from a number of sources. And that's the key: not just one source. For instance, if your specialty is construction, it is essential to extend your referral base in a variety of trade categories: plumbers, electricians, architects, renewable energy, and bankers, for instance.
A great resource and an easy place to find these trades is where businesses advertise: the newspapers. Also, once a week, challenge yourself to attend at least one networking event, like a lecture, a business luncheon, or a trade show, in which you’ll meet a diverse group of people who may have similar interests as yours and the potential to create opportunities.
If it's a trade show you decide to attend, be sure to research the companies that will be showing their products to know if they will be a good fit for your business. This approach will work well once you have developed a system in collecting the information and then act on it within the same week; I call this my Networking Workout.
As a member of an organization like BNI, do this one-hour Networking Workout once every week and you will remain fit as a fiddle in business.
- Review all notes you made from your last people gathering event (10mins).
- Prepare letters to five business professionals that compliment your business specialty (10mins).
- Set up business appointments to meet with those best suited to your business (10mins).
- Listen or read motivational material on coaching for success (10mins).
- Follow up on all referrals received or given in the last week … get feedback (10mins).
- Follow up with everyone you met in the last week (10mins).
If you participate fully, over time the results from the workout will build the networking muscle you need to succeed.
BNI (Business Network Int’l is the largest and most successful networking organization in the world committed to working with and helping businesses and professionals grow their businesses through qualified referral marketing.
Curtis K. Belgrave is the Director for BNI Caribbean with chapters in Barbados and Suriname.