The alarm clock rang at 5:45 a.m.; I showered, dressed and quickly sipped my wife’s coffee and was out the door within the hour. I was off to another chamber breakfast event and had to be there a little early since I had volunteered to be an ambassador. Two days later I was on a similar schedule rushing to get to one of the two service organizations I had joined. I was actually a member or actively involved with six different network groups and many of them had evening mixers or fundraisers as well
Three years ago, when I had committed to make network marketing a main part of my overall business development strategy, I jumped into as many groups as I could. I read several books on the topic and followed the advice of many of the professionals which I met at these events and the consensus was always to join as many diverse groups as possible. It made perfect sense to me and I got out there and engaged. Keeping this goal in mind, I was busy running around town almost four days a week and usually another three evenings which meant my family was getting the short end of what was emotionally and physically left of me at the end of the day. To make matters worse, I wasn’t getting that many referrals from all my efforts. Over dinner one night, my wife asked me two simple questions which made me rethink my whole strategy. The two simple questions were: what I was trying to accomplish and were the groups I was a member of going to contribute to my goals? Simple questions yet it urged me to consider what direction I was going and with some analysis it became obvious I was spinning my wheels without even realizing it.
As a finance broker, I have a specific target sphere of people that can be end-clients or partners in building new clients. Many of the groups I was in were primarily made up individuals selling consumer products; they were rarely going to meet the sales manager, chief financial officer or business-to-business manufacturers which are key contacts to my success. Of course, I did meet a few of these target individuals but “a few” was not worth the cost, time and effort to meet them.
I revamped my plan and decided to make three main changes to my networking efforts which provided great results:
1) I identified all the target market contacts which were valuable to building my business. This list wasn’t just types of customers; it was also business partners which pursued a similar market as me. It was just as valuable to connect with someone pursuing the same market where we could share our database with each other and co-op on sales calls as it was to meet a direct client.
2) I made a “time budget” or schedule in which I specified the number of hours a week and evenings that I would spend networking. I left open three weekday evenings for my family and the entire weekend except for some Saturday mornings. My family knew when I would be around and when I wouldn’t and I had their support.
3) I researched different organizations in a ten mile radius by visiting meetings, talking to their membership and attending their popular events along with whatever I could learn about them online. After I had a good comfort level that I knew what the group was about, I selected three to join. I knew from my “time budget” that three groups were all I had time for if I was going to actually be an active member. All the other groups that were taking up my time with little return were eliminated.
Now, my schedule is much more balanced, the family is happy, I’m less fatigued and I’m getting 30% more business with less than half the effort compared to my previous schedule. I pour my energy into the groups I’m in because I have more energy to give and I know I’m in the right circle for my particular business. Leaving the groups that I had become a part of was difficult because of the friendships but on a straight business decision, this was a case where I had to quit in order to win.
Lester Salvatierra is a Finance Broker and Director of First U.S. Finance (www.FirstUSFinance.com). He helps small to mid-size companies get the money they need to lease or finance new equipment and special projects. He is also a BNI Area Director in Ventura County, CA. Lester@FirstUSFinance.com Ph: 805-217-9896
With over 5,500 active chapters, and over 100,000 members throughout every populated continent worldwide, BNI is the largest and most successful business referral organization in the world. BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner and the organization, which allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter, offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts, and most importantly, referrals. Last year alone, members of BNI passed 6.2 million referrals, generating 2.6 billion dollars’ worth of business.
For more information on BNI, please visit http://www.bni.com/ or call BNI Headquarters at 909.608.7575.
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