Building A Networking Strategy

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MIKE_C~2By Michael J. Cronin

In my last article “I Don’t Have Time to Network!” I spoke about networking frequency and how it impacts success.

Networking activities must be scheduled, done consistently and with purpose. They are not to be done only “when you have nothing else to do”.

A second critical component to successful networking is where and with whom you choose to spend your time. There are several networking models available in most areas and the type & blend of these will greatly impact your success. Remember, networking is based on finding the right people to help you and for you to help.

The first, and most common, networking model is what I refer to as Social Networking.  Typically, this is a larger group of people who gather periodically over breakfast, lunch or a happy hour. They are often termed “mixers”. The structure is very loose and you mingle within the group. In most organizations, this tends to be comprised of a core group and a few new people each time. If done properly, you eventually develop a social relationship where others know you exist and could potentially assist you in gaining business. For this model to be effective, you must become a known member of the core group.

Another popular model is what I term Lead Generation Networking. These are usually industry exclusive groups, where only one person from any given industry area is allowed. They are typically membership driven and are smaller in size; 10-30 members. The key to this model is that each person understands the other members’ business & target markets. Each then strives to act as a salesperson for the others, watching for business opportunities and capturing leads. These groups meet frequently and report their leads to each other. Groups in this model can be relatively loose in structure, while others are very strict in terms of attendance, leads delivered, etc. In order for this model to be effective, each member must gain a good working knowledge of the other businesses and be able to identify appropriate leads.

A third model is what I term Request Networking. Request Networking is similar to the Lead Generation model in terms of industry exclusivity, size and meeting frequency. However, unlike Lead Generation, the individual members request a contact at a business or within industry segments they wish to target. Rather than relying on the other members to understand your business and identify appropriate leads, only you need understand what you are targeting. The members of the group only provide those contacts where they have a strong enough relationship to “get you in the door”. In this model, the individual is trading on the reputation of another member in order to gain access to the target. The trust factor is crucial to the effectiveness of this model.

The most effective form of networking is Referral Networking, which can actually take place in any model. It is based on someone referring you and your business to one of their contacts without any prompting on your part. This occurs only when the trust and relationship between the parties has become sufficiently strong.

While there are advantages & disadvantages to each model, the proper blend can provide an effective networking strategy. Just as you move a prospect through the Sales Process, you can move your networking contacts through a process that builds and strengthens the relationship until ultimately Referral Networking can take place. Using this process within those organizations and groups where your target market networks, builds not only a powerful, referral network, but an ever-growing pool of business prospects.

“Networking is a critical part of the Sales Process.”

Michael J. Cronin founded ResTech Solutions, LLC in 2002 after 15 years in the corporate world.
He has hands-on experience in a number of functional areas and has worked with both domestic and international organizations. ResTech Solutions prides itself on the development of practical, cost-effective programs for its clients. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation, please contact Michael at (484) 883-2707 or
[email protected].

To learn more about the power of Networking and the Sales Process, and how it can dramatically improve your business, please contact ResTech Solutions, LLC at (484) 883-2707 or [email protected]