Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Your network is your net worth, so get out there and meet people to expand your contacts

Welcome to Money Tips Daily this is Money Kelly bringing you money tips to help you save and make more money!

Your Network is your Net Worth.

I attended a breakfast networking meeting today and it reminded me of that old saying. Your network really does reflect your net worth and success in business, or some would say it’s not what you know but who you know, which is still some truth even in today’s digital age.

In this structured BNI networking meeting, the membership of 23 consisted of various local trades and professions from Solicitors to IFA’s and mortgage brokers, to trades like builders and plumbers, to a golf pro and a young lady who arranges lingerie parties! Most people handed round cards, she handed round panties!

Every person in the room gets a chance to do their one minute ‘elevator’ pitch and ask for introductions to targeted customers. 

BNI groups have a strict attendance rule and a ‘hard networking’ referral policy, which does not suit everyone, including me, however it seems to be working as the organisation is very successful.

Started in America in 1985 by Ivan Misner, BNI now operates in 70 countries worldwide with over 8000 chapters and 227,000 members. 

The cost of this group is around £1,000 per year plus a £150 joining fee. Costs may vary according to the type of venue and food served. In this example, roughly £500 pa plus the joining fee appears to go to BNI organisation, 8000 members, you do the maths. 

Several experienced members speak very highly of BNI and say that it has helped grow their business, although no guarantees and promises are made. Like most things, you get out of it what you put it.

There are thousands of less formal networking meetings all over the country where you can meet like minded people or people in your industry, interest group or niche.

You can find meetings, as well as create your own on and offline physical events, using online tools and apps such as Facebook, Meetup and Eventbrite. 

There are Chamber of Commerce organisations in most towns, various business clubs, as well as more specialised meetings for particular sectors, such as property investor meetings, which I attend. 
Most have a speaker on a subject of interest, so you can learn something about your industry as well as meet people.

I attend many other networking meetings, like Rotary Club, which has over a million members worldwide and does very good charity work, and London’s East Meets West events.

There is a tendency for people go ‘hunting’ for business when they start out, and perhaps they give off the wrong vibes or appear too desperate, which repels potential clients. Networking is more like ‘farming’ your business, planting seeds and nurturing the garden. Enough garden analogies!

Networking is about forming and building relationships, rather than selling to people in the room or frantically handing out cards like confetti! 

You really never know who you are going to meet, what relationships could be formed or what business you could do in the future. Rob Moore, of Progressive Property, said he met his business partner and financier at his very first property meeting at the bar after the meeting. The pair went on to build a portfolio of over 600 properties and Rob is now a multi-millionaire and drives a Ferrari! 

Sometimes you don’t do any direct business, but the person refers you on to a client. Sometimes you just strike up a friendship! What could be wrong with that!?

Arm yourself with a wad of business cards and out there and meet some people – all your business is transacted with people! It’s no good sitting at home wondering why you have no customers and having such a bad month, or blaming the economy, the government, Brexit or Donald Trump for your lack of business!

Bonus Tip. 
Follow-up. The biggest mistake I’ve observed in networking is the failure to follow up. People go to all the trouble of going to a meeting, cornering you in the room to tell you about their business and after you say, “sure, give me a call or email me to set up a meeting”, you hear nothing!

At a recent networking meeting held at the Hippodrome Casino in London, where I exchanged cards with around 50 people, do you know how many followed up or emailed me the next day? Two! And one of those was the Director and venue host who was smart enough to introduce himself to the audience and give a little talk about the history of one of London’s most famous nightspots.
A couple more replied after I emailed them, but many didn’t even bother to that! Only one person has made any further contact since the meeting three weeks ago. What a waste.

Bonus Tip No 2
When you get home after a meeting with a pile of business cards, don’t put them to one side in the ‘to do later’ pile. Put them on your contacts and drop everyone a short email, WhatsApp or message – “It was a pleasure meeting you at XYZ...” - and make a quick note of who they are and where you met them. Don’t rely on your memory.

Bonus Tip No 3. 
Get a phone app, like Cam Card, which you can use to photograph and quickly import contact details. This is really useful and far quicker than doing it manually.

Finally, just get out there are meet some people and make the magic happen!

Check out my Podcast version, "Your Network is Your Net Worth" on Anchor! https://anchor.fm/charles-kelly/episodes/Your-Network-is-Your-Net-Worth-e15hdr


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