In a world where everything from bowl games to satellite launches are corporately sponsored, we are literally inundated with advertising on a daily basis. As a result, consumers are becoming desensitized to the entire phenomenon of marketing. Additionally, new technology is giving us unprecedented control over our media. The growing prevalence of DVRs (digital video recording devices), caller ID systems, and Pop-Up and SPAM blocking programs is increasingly granting us opportunities to simply ignore advertisements altogether. Recent shifts in advertising trends have forced many companies to seek new, creative methods to reach their perspective customers.*
No one can provide any firm figures as to how many marketing messages confront an average person on any one day or any particular week. It would become quite obvious that if you were to take notice of every marketing message put in front of you on any one day, that You were in fact being bombarded.
One day a few weeks ago I counted over two hundred forms of marketing, both visual and auditory in one 60 minute trip to see a client.
The reality is your potential customers are being bombarded, and as pointed out in the above excerpt, “desensitized”. So how can you increase your leads?
The answer is simple. Networking.
Networking is one of the oldest known forms of marketing on the planet. The prospect of having a number of people advocating your services or products to others has to be one of the most cost effective forms of advertising. There are countless networking groups throughout the world. Some are global, some regional and others local. Knowing which one is the right one for you and your business, is the hard part.
Whilst there are many successful networking groups in operation, there are many more that can be quite detrimental to your business and your sanity.
What makes a successful networking group will vary from person to person. The views expressed below are mine and based upon personal experience, so whilst some may agree, you are welcome to your own opinion. Just keep it to yourself though, ok?
A successful networking group can be described as one where through the building of understanding and mutual trust, its members are provided with business opportunities from their fellow members by way of introduction to potential sources of business.
In essence, the passing of a warm lead to a fellow trusted business colleague. In a time where we are all vying for the opportunity to present our specific products or services to a potential client, the competitive edge is gained when someone else sells the benefits of dealing with you, before you have ever met.
The true benefit comes when the referrer has a sound understanding of your business, your unique selling proposition (USP) and creates a level of anticipation in the potential client.
As some would say “The deal may well have already been done before you have walked through the door.”
An important aspect of any referral is following up the referral in a timely manner, and ensuring you provide the best your service has to offer.
If you win the business, not only have you acquired a new client for little or no cost, you have just created another potential advocate for yourself.
Regardless of whether you obtain the client’s service or not, it is important you feed-back your results to the referrer. If you weren’t successful you might find the referrer does some follow up with their lead and you could be given another opportunity to present your services.
If you have won the business, it is important you let your referrer know that their lead was successful. Feedback is important as it provides useful information that can allow people to develop their skills in looking for and acquiring good quality leads for others.
It has been my experience that for every referral I have given out, I have received many more in return.
Networking your business colleagues successfully comes out of a desire to help them. It may be helping one of your clients, a business or personal acquaintance. The goal is to see they are provided services or products from a reputable trusted source. The focus should not be on price.
Some of the key aspects to be wary of when looking to join a networking group are:
The WIFM (what’s in it for me) crowd. Those that only want leads and have no intention of reciprocating.
“Harvesters”. Those who attend many different network groups for the sake of harvesting the room for business cards with the intention of following up solely for the purpose of obtaining a sale.
Groups that “require” you to provide leads each week or face reprimand or banishment. This can result in people providing poor quality leads, which can not only cause embarrassment, but be detrimental for your company’s image and that of the networking group. (Leads for leads sake.)
A good networking group should be one that not only provides you a source of good leads, but exposes you to responsible, trusted businesses to refer to and an environment that fosters co-operation, learning and support. It should be something you can’t wait to attend.
If you really like the people in your group and you trust them, then you will never miss an opportunity to help them grow, because by growing others, you grow yourself.
So, if you aren’t yet part of a networking group, then you should start looking to join one. If you are and you don’t feel you are getting anything out of your group, you should first look at yourself and your motives, and then at the type of people you are meeting with. No one group can be everything to everyone.
There are many business networking groups listed on the internet. The one I prefer to attend is Meeting Minds. Currently there are a few spread across the suburbs of Perth in Western Australia.
If you don’t know where to start or feel that you haven’t found the right group then you can always give me a call, and I’ll see what I can do to help you.
Two Moons Consulting
*Undercover Agency, The Ethics of Stealth Marketing
By: Alexandria Weisberg, Alonna Pfleiger, Jake Friedberg