Relationship Networking Decisions

This Part Three of the Relationship Networking series.  We must first determine what our business needs are and then discover where best to find them.  In this piece we look at the factors to consider while making relationship networking decisions.

What are you seeking for your business?

  • Customers
  • Referrals
  • Sneezers
  • Business Friends
  • Contribution
  • Mentors/Role Models
  • Coaches/Teachers
  • Sponsors
  • Partners

There are many reasons for networking as you can see.  Are you clear on what you want from your networking experience?  And then the the question is:

Where will you find what you are seeking?

I’m sure all of us know the time worn expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.  But how do we know which baskets to select when it comes to networking?  Do we simply choose the ones that feel comfortable?  Or do we choose them strategically?  In order to gain the desired exposure, we must show up and be involved in the places that will expose us to the people that will use our products and services and who will tell others about our business.

Following are the six kinds of networks as described by Ivan Misner in his book The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret – Building Your Business with Word-of-Mouth Marketing.  Of these he recommends that we choose three:

  1. Casual Networks

These are general business groups such as Chambers of Commerce.  They offer exposure to a wide variety of businesses and industries .  This requires active attendance and a degree of confidence in your ability to describe your business effectively.

  1.  Strong Contact Networks

Focused groups such as BNI (Business Network International) meet weekly with the prime purpose of exchanging referrals.  Usually membership is restricted to one representative from each type of business.  This requires strong commitment to the other members and regular attendance.

  1.  Community Service Clubs

Examples are Rotary, Lions, Soroptimist International.  These groups give you the opportunity to give back to your community while making valuable contacts with the movers and shakers about town.  Overt networking is frowned upon, but solid, trusting relationships are made that have long term benefits.

  1.  Professional Associations

These are known as “knowledge networks” and tend to be from one specific industry, Coaches Association or Certified Life Underwriters for example.  Apart from the opportunity to share knowledge and tricks of the trade, this is an excellent place to identify potential alliances.

  1.  Social/Business Organizations

These are groups that combine business and social activities.  They have often been described as a great place to make great friends and do great business.  The emphasis here is on education and professional development as well as networking.  Examples of these are Business & Professional Women, E-Women, various MeetUps (both on-line and local)

Mindset Monday Challenge

Which three suit your current business needs?  Have you identified your niche yet?  Where are you most apt to meet your potential clients?  What are your business knowledge needs right now?  Which group fits your networking style?

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