Autor: Scott

~ 29/11/06

There are a lot of promises out there in networking organization land.  “Our group offers over 75% decision makers!” “Guaranteed leads with every visit!” “Free oil change with every handshake!” With all this hype, it can be hard to decide where to spend your hard earned money and time.

How do you choose which one to join? Just remember this… Not all decision makers and leads are created equal. While the above statements may be true, the questions is, do these decision makers and leads fit within your marketing focus? The best way to decide is to first identify who you are and what you sell.

Who you are: Networking is about beneficial connections. It is about building a network of acquaintances that will help you in your professional life. These people can be friends, coaches, mentors, partners, and/or prospects. The best way to find these people is to be someplace where you are comfortable and can be yourself. If you like social settings, happy hours may be the best place for you. If you like volunteer opportunities, volunteer. If you crave structure and a more “professional” setting, groups like BNI may be your best vehicle. Just be comfortable and genuine. People can sense when you are out of your element and will tend to stay away from you. Not good for networking.

What you sell: Again, all decision makers and leads are not created equal. You can be in a room full of business owners, but if you sell $1,000,000 computer systems, the woman who owns the pet store and is looking for a PC may not be ready to write you that check. Of course, as mentioned in prior posts, never underestimate the power of her network. While she may not be able to buy from you, she may know 5 people who can. Be specific about what you do and who your best prospect is.

Armed with this knowledge, investigate the various groups and ask questions in order to find the best fit for your personality and product. If the organization charges, what are the added benefits for being a member and are there additional costs to attend events over and above the yearly dues? A lot of organizations will try to deflect the cost by talking about the opportunities to make deals. While this may be true, cash is king and cash flow, not “opportunities” makes the car payment. Do not over extend yourself to join a networking organization. The best things in life are free, and sometimes, so are networking opportunities. My best networking success stories come from weddings, holiday parties, and airline gates.

Bottom line, be yourself, be comfortable, know your product and your ideal prospect, and make friends. Networking is fun! Really! 

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