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Business Networking Blog

Marketing Through Communities

In this guest blog Nigel Temple shares his expertise on marketing through communities. 

 


Marketing Through Communities 

Marketing through communities - Nigel temple

Established communities can provide you with numerous networking opportunities – if you take the right approach.

 

What are your objectives?

Begin by thinking about your marketing objectives. For example, is brand awareness important to you? If it is, then you may wish to consider sponsoring community events or a community website (or part thereof). This can be remarkably inexpensive.

 

Alternatively, are you trying to find customers ‘within the room’ or introducers (i.e. bank managers and accountants, in the case of an IFA). If so, then you will have to ‘show up’ on a regular basis.

 

Think about your target market segments. The communities you decide to join should either include members of these segments or people who can reach and influence them. Your choices will be guided by your business model and whether you are trying to reach business people or consumers.

 

Choose the right communities

Communities come in many different forms. Online examples include LinkedIn and Facebook. Locally, there are business groups such as The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) and Chambers of Commerce. There are professional and industry groups and networking organisations such as NRG Business Networks. In addition, there are lobbying, special interest groups and local groups within towns and cities.

 

By the way, direct selling within communities is always seen as a bad thing. The best approach is to take your time and build relationships. Remember that community members will talk about you – so it is important to act with integrity at all times.

 

Social skills

Be helpful and don’t worry if your acts of kindness don’t appear to generate direct results (as you can’t hear the positive word of mouth which you are generating).

 

Position yourself as an expert

Once you are established within a community, look for opportunities to demonstrate your expertise. Depending on the nature of the community, these might include giving talks, writing articles and blogs and providing professional advice. Your objective is to become known as the go-to person within your field and to become a thought leader.

 

Multiple touch points

Once you have connected with someone within one community, connect with them elsewhere, in order to create multiple touch points. For example, look them up on LinkedIn and put in a connection request.

 

Networking professionals

Find the ‘professional networkers’ who can introduce you to relevant contacts. This type of person always shows up, typically has a huge number of contacts and wants to help. Phone them and / or offer to meet.

 

Create your own network?

Nigel TempleFinally, it may be worthwhile for you to create your own network. I have done this and it is called The Marketing Compass, a community of business owners who want to learn about marketing. We have our own social media website www.marketingcompass.co.uk where members ask marketing questions. This approach is not for the faint hearted! However, it will help you to stand out from the crowd.

 

Nigel Temple

 

Nigel is a long time supporter of NRG and is a marketing consultant, speaker and author. He is the Founder of The Marketing Compass, which provides impartial marketing advice and direction to thousands of business owners.

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 16:04:18, 02 Jul 14
Tags: Marketing,nigel temple,marketing compass,communities
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How Word of Mouth Really Spreads

Less than 3 weeks ago my daughter, Emily, started a petition on Change.Org to free Meriam Ibrahim who has been imprisoned in Sudan after being sentenced to flogging and death unless she recants her Christian faith*. She was 8 months pregnant when she was arrested and has now given birth to a baby girl who is with her in prison along with her two-year-old son.

 

Today that petition has more than 750,000 signatures and Emily has been interviewed on local and national radio, written about in the press and mentioned on TV in this country and others including on the other side of the world in Australia.

 

Once she had set up the petition she sent messages to politicians, celebrities, journalists and business leaders, but none of them replied (until the petition was much bigger!) so that wasn't the way this spread.

 

How, then, did she get so many people to sign?

 

Read on below the picture.

#SaveMeriam

She shared the petition with friends and family and asked them to share and support it. Unlike the 'names' her friends and family shared it and supported it and they asked their friends and family to do the same. Guess what? They did too and after 24 hours more than 5,000 had signed. After 2 days it was over 75,000 and that increased to 225,000 on day 6. You get the picture.

 

She didn't stop there though. She re-shared it with new information and ideas and again asked people to do the same. Some people will have missed it first time and some may have felt more aligned with one particular message or other.

 

It's a great example of how Word of Mouth really spreads. It's not about celebrity endorsement or people with a huge Twitter following, it's about engaging the people who know you best and then them doing the same.

 

This graphic from the Change.Org website illustrates it well:

 

Multiply Your Impact from Change.Org

 

The lesson for networking is to create something compelling in your business and to engage with the people who know you best by sharing stories that demonstrate the difference you are making and can make to others like them. You need to do this consistently with the people who know you best and ask them to share that with the people they know well.

 

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

 

* Meriam is the daughter of a Christian woman and Muslim man. She was raised Christian after her father left. Sudanese law mandates that children born to Muslim fathers are considered Muslim so she was charged with adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan is considered void under Shari’a law, for which the penalty is flogging. She’s also charged with apostasy, or abandonment of religion, for which the penalty is death.

 

In the last few days there have been conflicting reports about Meriam being released from the Sudanese Government and her representatives so keep the pressure on and please keep signing and sharing the petition at http://j.mp/saveMYI

 

 


 

If you would like to understand more about how to invest your networking time and get a better return visit the 8 blog series on How To Win More Business Through Networking

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 9:53:59, 03 Jun 14
Tags: Business Networking,Word of Mouth
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Get A Better Return On Your Networking

ReturnWould you like your networking to produce a reliable and predictable return for you efforts? 

 

I meet many business owners and professionals who go out networking to get more business by recommendation or referral. When I ask if they would like more they generally say yes. If I ask them how they go about systematically generating more business the question gets more difficult to answer.

 

If you want a return you have to invest first. Networking has costs associated, but the biggest investment you make is time. The biggest problem for a lot of people is that they are spending time rather than investing time. If you attend a lot of networking events, but don't follow up and build relationships you are getting to know very little about lots of people. That isn't investing time.

 

In NRG Business Networks I receive referrals from people that I meet regularly and have built relationships with. In addition to that I also have a number of referral partnerships where we regularly meet to swap referrals with each other. This didn't happen accidentally, it was a result of investing my time and doing the right things with the right people. It's an approach I have used in all of my past and current businesses. I had a clear idea of my target market and worked out who else operated in that market. I then set about investing time and attention in developing relationships with those people through relevant networking groups, one to one interactions and giving help and support. Over time we recommended each other more often and now do this in a structured way. 

 

If you would like to understand more about how to invest your networking time and get a better return visit this link to my 8 blog series on How To Win More Business Through Networking

 

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 17:13:19, 04 Mar 14
Tags: Business Networking,Referrals,Networking Groups,Advocacy
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Are You Asking Yourself The Right Question?

Question MarkWhen considering a networking group people often ask themselves, "Is the group right for me?" and "Will the group work for me ?"

 

My experience is that if a group is well led and made up of the right people then you will be effective if you do the right things and don't wait for things to happen. You need to have the wherewithal to do what is necessary to make the others in the group like, trust, and rate you enough to look out for opportunities to refer and help you.*

 

So you need to flip the question around and ask yourself,

 

"Am I right for the group and will I commit to do what is necessary to make it work?"

 

Good Networking!

 

*For more on what you need to do to make your networking effective read How To Win More Business Through Networking.

 

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:51:23, 31 Jan 14
Tags: Business Networking,Networking Groups,Advocacy
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Do people you know confuse networking & selling?

stopDo you ever meet people at networking events who are only interested in what they do and if you may be interested in buying from them? I know I do, but many of them just haven’t learned that networking and selling are different activities. Others will have been told that networking events are just sales opportunities.

 

For many people in business the idea of selling is scary or frightening. Some view the very idea of being thought of as a salesperson as something that is tacky or beneath them. These are real problems for many business owners because if you don't sell you don't have a business. This can lead people to approach networking in entirely the wrong way and act as if it as a quick solution to their selling woes. Instead of taking the time to build a network they treat everyone they meet as a potential prospect and put them off immediately. They may well end up believing networking doesn't work and outsource their selling (potentially wasting even more time and effort). 

 

You can’t blame these people for behaving this way when no one has explained the best approach and they see some very confusing messages about networking. Some organisers of 'networking' events encourage people to see it as selling by advertising their events as your opportunity to network with 'decision makers' or to 'find your next client'. It doesn't help either when every available break at a conference, exhibition or other jamboree is called a networking opportunity.

 

The people who are effective at networking and selling treat them as different activities.

 

Networking is for the longer term and can lead to many more sales opportunities than if you treat everyone as a potential customer. It is an ongoing activity where you build a network of trusted relationships for support, information and business. A network of friends in business who look out for each other and who help each other succeed. Different people or groups of people will fulfil different functions in your network and you will do the same for them. The people who give you the best ideas or market intelligence may not be the ones who refer you to your target market. The ones who refer you are extremely valuable for your sales process and will have trusted relationships with your target market. They are likely to be providers to or clients of your target market.

 

Selling is interacting directly with your target market in order to sell them your services. Not to be confused with networking, but essential to the success of your business. Some of your prospecting is actually part of your sales process and not networking at all. Selling is the bit that happens after you have identified a prospect directly or have been introduced or referred by someone in your network. If someone in your network declares an interest in buying your stuff then that's an unexpected bonus.

 

Don’t be surprised that if you approach networking as a kind of 'soft' selling you will most likely be adding to your business development problems rather than solving them.

 

Until next time ...

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:38:59, 03 Dec 13
Tags: Business Networking,Selling,How Networking Works,Networking Relationships
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Is Your Networking a Series of Random Acts of Hope

Marcus Cauchi

 

In this guest blog, Marcus Cauchi, writes about how he has learned to network effectively. Marcus is the leader of the Reading NRG Group and you can see him in action there on the third Tuesday each month.

 

Is Your Networking a Series of Random Acts of Hope?

 

Do you have a plan of action when you go to a networking event?

Do you know what you want to achieve and who you want to meet?

Do you attend networks and do little or nothing to engage with other attendees or members between meetings?

Do you spend a fortune on breakfasts, lunches and dinners, G&Ts, coffees and beer but have little or no business to show for it?

 

Why?

 

Because you are probably behaving more like a butterfly than a bee. You flit from one unsatisfying social engagement to another without any purpose or direction, you don't engage, you may be trying to sell to a room of needy, desparate and skint people without ever listening or asking the right questions. And chances are you are doing structured 121's with the people who attended to explore if you could become regular referral partners.

 

Referral Partnerships

Do you have a handful of referral partners who you meet on a regular basis to exchange contacts, set up appointments for one another, support one another with intelligence, hold each other accountable or act as part of their business support network?

 

Probably not. Few people do. I know I didn't for the first few years and as a result I ran around like a headless chicken and my wife Suzanne became a networking widow. 30 networking events a month, credit cards up to the hilt paying for memberships, event fees, bar bills and lunches nad very little to show for it.

 

Then I got smarter.

 

Who to Partner With

Now I actively seek out people who I like and trust, or have been referred to me by trusted sources, and aim to establish a strong personal relationship first. I look for people who sell to the same audience or target market that I do but we don't compete directly. For my sales & sales management training and coaching business, complementary disciplines include banks, accountants, marketing consultancies, outsourced sales/sales management/lead generation companies, CRM vendors, recruiters who are local to me. If you are one of these or know someone who operates in the Reading/Thames Valley/South East of England area I'd love to hear from you/them as I've just  oved my business and I'm currently looking for another 2 referral partners to work with.

 

The Process

The process I go through involves gaining a mutual understanding of each other as humanbeings first. Then we establish a strong understanding of each other's business, our respective target markets and we teach each other how to identify, qualify and do each other's 30-second commercial to our mutual satisfaction, so we are making introductions and setting up introductions properly and without ambiguity or errors.

 

We meet regularly. Every 6-8 weeks. We identify what we are each looking for and then produce a long list of people in our contact base who might fit the bill. This list might be 20 or 30 people long. Then we go through the list and refine it until we have a shortlist of 10-15 who we each call from our own contact base. We make the introductions there and then and attenpt to book time in our contacts' diaries for our referral partner to meet.

 

We establish a clear up front agreement about the what our contact can expect form the meeting and give them permission at any point to end it or to say "no" and as partners we understand our job is to protect the relationship of the person referring us so we cna rest easy, knowing that we won't be suffering from referral remorse (when you make a referral and regret having made it).

 

Commitment

We commit to keeping each other up dated as to progress on each of the referrals. We let the other person know how they went, what went right or wrong. And we keep refining our understanding over time so we get better at referring.

 

Once you have momentum and have built that trust and experience up, a referral partnership meeting can easily generate between 7-10 qualified, warm, personal introductions to decision makers in our respective target markets per meeting.

 

If you have 4-8 of these referral partnerships going live and you meet every 6-8 weeks you can easily have between 40-200 meetings booked into your diary each year. If you do the maths it can get as high as 693 introductions per year (yes I did say six hundred and ninety three) with 8 referral partners if you're meeting every 6 weeks with 10 meetings booked per engagement. That is more than enough for you NEVER to have to cold call again isn't it?

 

Take Action

So why wouldn't do this for your business? Masochism, apathy or sloth ar ethe only legitimate reasons for not doing it.

 

Make the decision to get your act together. If you'd like to learn how to do this effectively, you can contact me if you're in the South East, ideally with easy access to Reading where my office is based, or speak to the Referral Insititute for their methodology which is pretty robust too. 

 

Next Steps

I'd be delighted to explore becoming your referral partner if you sell to SMEs and corporates, preferably in the the technology, media and professional services sectors, if you're based in or near Reading, Basingstoke, Maidenhead, Camberley, Bracknell, Wokingham, Windsor or other towns nearby.

 

And if you happen to know anyone who is frustrated that their networking isn't working, they struggle to fill their sales pipeline or their pipeline is weak and inconsistent, they have to sell to survive or they have a sales team that is complaining they haven't got enough leads consistently, their marketing isn't delivering the prospects they need to hit their targets, do please pass on my details (07515 937221 or mcauchi@sandler.com). better still, call me and we can discuss the person you plan to refer me to, we can establish the groundrules by which I will operate to protect your relationships and I will educate you in my process by way of a thank you. Is that fair?

 

Happy selling!

 

Marcus

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 18:00:23, 19 Nov 13
Tags: networking,effective networking,systematic networking,networking works,my networking isn't working,networking is a waste of time,
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Focus On The Process And Not The Outcome

Cover of The Antidote by Oliver BurkemanIn a blog post I read earlier by Eric Barker on 'Barking Up The Wrong Tree' I was interested in what Oliver Burkeman had to say about how to set goals that work. Guardian journalist Burkeman was interviewed by Barker following the publication of his book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

 

This is what he said about setting goals that work.

 

"For a long time there’s been an absolutely unquestioned dogma that having clear and ambitious goals is always a fantastic thing. I don’t think that that is absolutely wrong in all cases but there’s this huge shadow side to goal setting.

 

There’s a lot of evidence now that shows they can actually be demotivating. Goals can tempt people to cut ethical corners and to cheat when they are too rigidly focused on those goals.


The best thing to do is to set process goals rather than outcome goals. Stop telling yourself you’re going to write the great American novel, and tell yourself you’re going to do 500 words a day. Step back from focusing on the outcome and focus on process."

 

This approach certainly worked for me in gaining my Taekwondo Black Belt. I didn't start training 5 and a half years ago with a goal of getting my black belt. I started because my son wanted to do it and so I did too for a couple of reasons. One was to enjoy an activity with him and the other was that I would need to leave to pick him up just after I would get home from dropping him off! I just followed the training regime the instructors gave me. I now have my black belt 2nd Dan and am traing for my 3rd.

 

What are the lessons of this approach for networking?

 

Many people focus on what they are hoping to sell and end up actually putting people off. If you are networking to get help, support and business then it's safe to assume the people you meet want the same. The process that leads to that outcome is the building of trusted relationships and making friends in business. Focus on that process by getting to really know the people in your networks through one to one interactions and giving them help, support and introductions to other business contacts and opportunities. The wonderful thing is that as you do that for others then others do it for you.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 20:43:07, 18 Nov 13
Tags: Business Networking,Goals,How Networking Works
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The 6 Vital Things In Business

Six ThingsAs someone who runs business networking groups I like to find other good networks where I can participate as a member. It is important that the ethos of these groups is about connecting and building relationships first. One of my groups is The Oyster Club and I attend the Monthly Seed Pearl Breakfast which is excellent and hosted by Tanya Mann Rennick. At this months breakfast I met David White who is Chairman of Weboptimiser. We had a good chat and discovered a few things in common so I looked up his profile on the weboptimiser website.

 

The first paragraph really struck a cord with me. David wrote,

 

"I have learned that there are six vital things in business. Finding friends, finding out how you can help them, helping them, keep thinking about them, finding others like them and introducing them to each other."

 

I could have written that myself about a successful approach to business and networking. In fact I have written similar about building a business by referring others and making friends in business on this blog before.

 

As David has proven networking really is at the heart of business success.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 16:34:48, 10 Oct 13
Tags: business friends,Networking Relationships,Networking Groups,Business Networking
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Influence: How to Steal a March on Your Competitor

ChoiceIn How To Punch Above Your Weight In Business Bob Hayward shared the 7 principles he uses to win business with larger companies and organisations. Often against competition from larger consultancies like Accenture and the like. Bob expands on one of his principles here with this guest blog on the psychology of influence. 

 

 

 


Influence: How to Steal the March on Your Competitors by Bob Hayward

 

In his book, Blink!, Malcolm Gladwell refers to something that you do every day. It’s called “thin slicing”, and it’s that instantaneous decision you make about something else based on the flimsiest of evidence. You catch a glimpse, and you draw a conclusion. You get a whiff, and that reminds you of an entire meal.

 

But in every case, you make a judgement based on a small part of the whole. And that’s because you’ve learned what to expect. Daniel Kahneman* refers to this as fast thinking – deciding to do something automatically, without feeling the need to mull over it. It’s important that you recognize not only that decisions are made like this, but also to use it to win large contracts.

 

How can you persuade anyone to buy your products or services without them having to think much about it?

 

How can you influence them to choose you over someone else?

 

The answer is that it’s all in how you present your proposal. There are several steps that are necessary to do this. Get these right, and you’re practically assured of success. Get them wrong, and you might as well take the rest of the day off.

 

Consider four straight forward steps.

 

1. Liking

2. Social Proof

3. Contrast

4. Scarcity

 

1. The first thing you need to do is to make the most of the small talk. This is your chance to “break the ice” – “build rapport” and pleasantries can do just that because during the small talk you can demonstrate common ground or similar interests. Your primary goal is to get them to consider you as similar to them in some way, as like them. Robert Cialdini** refers to this as ‘Liking’. When people like you, then it’s entirely normal for them to trust you, and to consider buying from you.

 

2. The next step is ‘social proof’. This is where the bigger companies sometime have the advantage. The sheer weight of their reputation, (not to mention their burly consultants), and vast range of projects give them ‘authority’ on a grand scale. This is where your client list is wheeled out. In most cases, just by having worked with X,Y or Z, you look more like a viable option. This, too, increases trust. Give two or three verbal case study examples of people or companies, a before and after story. Make them as relevant as possible so they can sense someone else in their exact same shoes, with a very similar situation made a decision in your favour and benefitted well from it.

 

3. The next step is contrast. Here you compare the benefits of what you can do to your competitors. There will be aspect of your proposal which will be the same as that of your competitors and there will be aspects where you differ. Here is where you need to position yourself as an expert whose strengths more closely match the needs of your prospect and add significantly more value with much less risk. Remember the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain so not only do you need to be the best option you also have to be the safest option.

 

4. Even if the consider you as ‘like them’ – even if three other clients had exactly the same problem as them and now thanks to you are living on cloud nine – even if there is a massive return on their investment and zero risk you may still need to provide another reason for your prospect to buy. And that is scarcity.

 

This widget is only available from you, or only available at this price in this form for today, some aspect has to be ‘scarce’. Find one key aspect to tip the scales in your favour right now. The qualifier is that they must decide quickly, otherwise you will be too busy later. Quite often, a little urgency is all it takes to get prospects to make a decision, provided that you’ve effectively implemented the other steps.

 

Then you can ask for the order.

 

If your prospects like you, recognise your authority, see the relevance of your client case studies, accept that you are better positioned to solve their problem than your competitors, and feel the need to use you as soon as possible, then you’ll win the business.

 

But, if you get any of these steps wrong, then you’ll disrupt their thin slicing and force them into slow thinking. They’ll have to concentrate on what you’ve said, and then discuss their options with other decision makers. The longer this process goes on, the less likely it will be that you’ll win the business.

 

Instead of stealing the march, you’ll be lucky to keep up.

 

* Kahneman, Daniel. Of 2 Minds: How Fast and Slow Thinking Shape Perception and Choice.

** Cialdini, Robert. Influence: The Power of Persuasion

Further reading:

Granger, Russell. The 7 Triggers to Yes!

 


 

Thanks again to Bob for sharing those insights and you can read more from him in his blog.

 

For more on influence see The Science of Persuasion And Business Networking which includes a short video on the Science of Persuasion.

 

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke

          

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:15:32, 25 Sep 13
Tags: Influence,Collaboration,Advocacy,Business Networking
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A 60 second presentation that works!

60 second presentation that works!

 

You go to networking events. 

 

You have just one minute to make an impression. 

 

Here is a formula I learnt from Bernie De Souza that really works.

 

The format is:

 

Introduce yourself  (just who you are)

 

Fact 1  (a generally accepted fact relating to what you do)

 

Fact 2  (another generally accepted fact relating to what you do - you are now getting audience buy in)

 

Statement of what you do and benefit.  (focus on the benefit)

 

2 options:

 

Option 1   (your call to action)

 

Option 2   (continue doing nothing)

 

Close  (include a tagline)

 

So, here is an example:

 

"Hi, I’m Martin Davies from NRG.

 

Most business owners of service organisations know that they get their best business through word of mouth referrals.  They go to networking events but just don’t get enough business referred to them.

 

At NRG over the years we have developed a system for getting business referrals which works.  We call it the NRG Advocacy System and through it you can develop a personal network of the right people who go out of their way to introduce you to your target market.  We call them your Advocates.

 

So, what is easier for you?

 

Download a free copy of The NRG Advocacy System which will take you through the steps of how to build your personal network of Advocates and through them succeed in growing your business consistently.

 

Or you can continue being frustrated in your networking activity.

 

My name is Martin Davies from NRG – we help people build advocates."

 

Easy!

 

Good networking.

 

Martin Davies

NRG Business Networks

Business Networking Blog > Posted by Martin Davies at 10:21:30, 14 Aug 13
Tags: Business Networking
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