Network marketing (joining chambers, BNI, associations) is a terrific way to build a business. In 2007, networking was responsible for over 50% of my new business. I hear this echoed by dozens of business owners who join a business networking group.
On the other side of the aisle, though, are dozens of business people who join business networking groups, and then when their membership renewal is due, they fail to renew. The MAIN reason they give: It didn’t get me any business.
How do great networkers differ from poor networkers?
What’s the secret to great networking? How come some businesses thrive on networking, while others fail? One of the great misconceptions of networking is that by joining a roster, you’re gauranteed business. A roster spot does not mean a thing. Just because you’re listed on a Chamber of Commerce roster, BNI roster, or Builders Association roster, you can’t expect business. Sure, you’re a member…on paper. But it ends there. You’re only going to get back what you put in. I’ll present to you a great analogy.
Home exercise equipment is a lot like networking
I was talking on the phone to Janet Kruger from Lights On in Mankato, Minnesota about commonalities in Builders Associations. A local builders association has many members — some are active, and some are not. What Kruger said, made a lot of sense to me. “Home exercise equipment is a lot like networking,” Kruger explained. “You can’t buy a piece of exercise equipment, and expect it to work if you don’t use it. If you exercise daily, it will work. If you don’t, it becomes little more than a clothes hanger.” Kruger was Associate of the Year in the Minnesota River Builders Association.
Three ways to maximize your networks
Here are three specific ways to get the most out of any network you belong to:
- Join a committee. Get involved. Meet other members by working together. Show them your talents. Let your work be your testimonial. Become part of the leadership of the organization. It starts with involvement.
- Attend the meetings. Whether is business-after-hours or membership meetings, use every chance you get to meet people face-to-face. Business comes where it’s invited.
- Ask for appointments using this phrase: When could we meet to discuss ways to help each other grow our businesses? What smart business owner is going to say no?
Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.