Thursday, 19 May 2016

Five steps to finding the perfect networking group for you

As small-business owners, most of us know that joining a networking group is a fantastic way to generate more leads for our businesses, but if for some reason you’re left without a networking home, it can be tough to find a new one that suits you and meets your needs.

If your networking group has closed down recently, or if you’re just looking to join a new group, or even if you’ve never been in a networking group before and you’re ready to take the next step, I have some tips for finding the perfect group.

How to find Perfect Brisbane Networking Group

1. Know what you’re looking for

Before you go any further in the search for your networking home, sit down and figure out exactly what you want, because that will be key in finding the perfect group.

  • Do you want a casual get-together or a more corporate setting?
  • Do you want to attend a weekly session? A monthly session?
  • How much would you like to pay to attend?
  • What sort of members will help you to receive high-quality referrals? (E.g., if you’re an accountant, are you looking to connect with a business broker?)
  • Do you want to be educated at your networking group?
  • How long can you dedicate each week or month to your group?

Being able to answer these questions will ensure that you tick off all your requirements and find a group that fulfils your needs.

2. Define your networking goals

Part of knowing what you’re looking for in a networking group is understanding what you want to get out of joining one. Everyone has different reasons for attending networking groups, and I suggest that you figure out what yours are.

  • Do you just want to get out of the house and meet some new people?
  • Are you interested in educating yourself more on the best practices in business?
  • Do you have sales targets that you need to meet and want your networking group to help you meet them?
  • Do you need new or specific connections with people in particular industries?

Like the last step, figuring out these goals is key to finding the best networking group for you, so I suggest you do this before you start looking for a group.

3. Hone your elevator pitch

At NRG, each member gives a one-minute business talk each week, during which they tell their fellow members about their business and ideal referral. This practice enables our members to fully understand each other’s needs.

When you go to a networking group, even if you’re not giving a one-minute business talk, you’ll have to explain your business to people you’ve never met before. Make sure you have a short description of your business ready to go, and include why you’re unique and who your ideal referral is.

4. Do your research

Now that Google exists, you really have no excuse for not shopping around before you choose the networking groups you’re going to try out.

Hop onto Google and check out the groups that meet in your area. Read about their policies and meeting structures and decide if they seem right for you. You can even go onto their Facebook pages and check out what people are saying about them.

Once you’ve done that, make a list of some groups that you’re interested in attending, as well as their contact details.

5. Visit some groups

Get in touch with each of the groups you added to your list and find out if you can visit them.

When you visit the groups, you want to make sure that they meet your expectations. Consider the questions you asked yourself earlier—does this group tick your boxes?

Even more important, do you enjoy the atmosphere of the group? You want to make sure that you’ll enjoy attending your group and that you’ll get along with the members.

NRG is the only networking group in Brisbane that offers two free meetings before you decide to join as a member.

Want to visit NRG? Choose your group below.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Networking and Nurturing = New Clients

Nurturing Takes Place Before Harvesting

Nurturing takes place before harvesting - business networking

Networking is one of the very first steps in obtaining new clients. Learning how to network effectively is the key to building a strong base of referred clients. Networking is a step by step process of building trust and confidence in you as a person. Your clients need to trust you and what you say. This is done by using 'Touch Points' to build credibility with your prospective clients before they then become your clients. Each time you interact with your prospective clients you build trust with them. It will often take 6-8 'Touch Points' before a prospective clients will trust you and what you are saying to want to do business with you.
  1. Being a Passionate Networker I have grown my business in this way. These are the steps that I have followed in growing my network of members and strategic alliance partnerships. The 'Touch Points' that I often use to build a strong relationship of trust are as follows: 
  2. Meet at a networking event 
  3. Go online and look up their details on Google Search, LinkedIn and Facebook to find out more about their business, to give you background information about them and their business before your meeting 
  4. Follow up the following day with an email inviting the prospective client to have a Coffee Meeting 
  5. Meet with them to get to know one another and build trust at a Coffee Meeting 
  6. Send them a LinkedIn and Facebook invitation to connect with you and start interacting via social media 
  7. Send a thank you note in the mail thanking them for the meeting and outlining what was discussed 
  8. Call and set up a second appointment to specifically discuss how you can assist them 
  9. At the second appointment it is now the time to look at how you can now do business with each other 
Trust and respect has now been built and you will find that your prospective client will now be very open to becoming a client who wants to do business with you. It is a much slower process than the 'hard sell' but it will build you long term clients that will seek you out as a trusted business associate.

Your harvest will be a strong base of referred clients that speak well of you to their own business associates.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How To Choose The Right Cafe For a Coffee Meeting

Business Meetings over a cup of coffee can be one of the most productive and cost effective ways to secure new business

How to choose the right cafe for a coffee meeting

I have built my weekly networking business using this wonderfully simple method of doing business. It puts your clients at ease and allows for friendly and open conversation. A cafe is a safe neutral place to conduct business in a manner that is conducive to allowing you to explain your business to your prospective client, without them feeling pressured into making a buying decision.

I always allow at least one hour to have a Coffee Meeting, this allows time to get to know one another and to find out how you can be of assistance to them. Sipping coffee rather than eating is also easier to have a conversation around.

But how do you find the ideal cafe to conduct these important meetings? What should I look for? These are my 8 Tips......

  1. Easy to find parking close to the cafe. There is nothing worse than driving around for ages looking for an available parking spot causing you to be late for your meeting.
  2. Nicely decorated Cafe with comfortable chairs. I want to be comfortable when I have a meeting with a client. If you choose a comfortable cafe, this will help put your client at ease and they will greatly appreciate the effort that you have gone to.
  3. Friendly and attentive staff that know you and treat you with respect. I highly recommend that you have 2-3 cafe's that you visit regularly and take the time to introduce yourself to the staff and let them know that you have chosen their cafe to conduct your business. They will really look after you as cafe owners treat their regular clients with a great deal of respect and have a great attitude towards you and your clients. 
  4. Good Selection of Teas and Coffee. A lot of clients drink coffee, but there are still a substantial amount of people who enjoy a variety of quality teas and to cater to them shows your client that you are thinking of them. 
  5. Table Water and glasses when you first arrive. It is only a small thing but it does make a big difference. Your client will have probably had a busy day before arriving at your meeting. To be able to sit and have a glass of water before starting the meeting gives them time to stop, sip and gather their thoughts and relax a little before commencing the meeting. 
  6. Quiet space and room around the table. Having been brought up in the country, I always like to have a bit of 'elbow room around me'. It also allows people to feel that not everyone is listening to them and they can sit and relax a bit better without bumping into the person next to them. 
  7. Power point for your laptop. In a busy working day we are often 'on the run' and need to use our laptops for meetings or to catch up on emails or look up websites when we are away from home. Having a power point to recharge our laptop and mobile phone is a huge plus. I always carry a powerboard and extension lead in my laptop case for such occasions. This gives me the ability to use a power point that may be a little distance away from where I am sitting. 
  8. Wifi connection for your laptop. This is not essential as most business people that have mobile offices can 'hotspot' from their mobile phones, but it is definitely a plus particularly if you want to download information from the web. These cafes are a bit harder to find, but well worth looking for as they often do not advertise this service. It is well worth asking particularly if you are a regular customer. 
I have been involved in weekly networking groups for over nine years now and I learnt this method of doing business from my ex BNI Director Mr Dan Garlick in Tasmania. In nine years I have yet to find a better way of conducting business than a Coffee Meeting at a Cafe'.