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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have You Made Your Business Networking Campaign Checklist? | NETWORKING LIKE A PRO

Dr. Ivan MisnerNetworking Like A Pro with Dr. Ivan Misner

It’s amazing what a business networking campaign can do for your business. People rely on recommendations from trusted sources much more than they do from mere advertisements. The best thing is, the costs associated with running a successful business networking campaign are usually a fraction of what a traditional advertising campaign can run!

However, as the saying goes, “there is no free lunch.” What you save in dollars spent, you must replace with time and effort. Simply saying to yourself that you are going to “network” does not guarantee immediate success. You not only need to plan and execute a schedule of networking events and activities that will put you in front of people, you will also need to begin to build your credibility.

One of the most important ways to do this is to hold yourself to the highest ethical standards: Be fair in your pricing; make sure the work you are hired to do is provided with the highest standards in quality; and certainly never over-promise and under-deliver.

The other part of running a successful business networking campaign is to build an arsenal of credibility-enhancing materials. You should always have these at your disposal to make the most of every networking opportunity.

Below is a checklist of items you may already have available or wish to begin assembling, which can be used as collateral materials in developing your desired image. Please note the following points, and then you’re ready to compile the key components of the toolkit of a successful campaign!

Point 1: This is not a complete list of items needed to market your business. The items in this list are focused on enhancing your networking activities in a face-to-face environment.

Point 2: Also keep in mind that this is a wide variety of items, and that not every item will be used at the first point of contact with a potential client, or even with someone who can refer you clients. Each item will address a specific area of information that you have to share about your business, and while some can be used to build credibility at earlier stages of networking, you will want to save the more detailed items at a further point in the networking process with a particular client or referral source. The first half of the list includes items that you will most likely want or need at the early stages, while the second half you should have ready as the relationship deepens.

1. A one-page flier
You should have a brief overview of your business ready to pass along at all times – both a hard copy to fax and an electronic copy to email – in case you meet someone while networking who wants to quickly pass along your information to a prospective client they know.

2. Question-and-answer sheets
One of the quickest ways to learn about a person’s business at a networker – and for them to learn about yours – is to make the initial meeting as organized as possible. A sheet with questions that you can each ask each other can ensure you don’t forget to find out the most important information about each other’s businesses, the information that could lead to a referral the quickest!

3. Testimonial letters from satisfied clients
Testimonials are one of the most effective ways to showcase the quality of the products or services you provide. You can keep hard copies in a binder, or you can post them to your website. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can ask the clients in your network to “recommend” you.

4. Photos of yourself, your office facilities, equipment, and/or products
A professional photo, or headshot, is important for promotional opportunities and for your social media profiles. Photos of your office or business operation and products help to legitimize your business and gain credibility.

5. Current brochures, circulars, and data sheets, and product catalogs
This may seem like a no-brainer, but quite often I’ve noticed that business owners are too busy running their business and neglect their collateral materials.

6. Items that reflect your “brand”
These items go a long way in building the consistency and recognition of your brand: Logos, trademarks, service marks, patterns, designs you’ve used, posters, banners, and display materials used at trade shows.

7. A list of your key customers
You can put these on your website to show the type of clients you have successfully served.

8. A list of your memberships and affiliations
This is very helpful when you meet someone for the first time – it’s a great way to see if you have mutual acquaintances or business associates. It may also lead to an introduction to someone in one of your organizations to whom you have been hoping to be introduced.

9. Photos of awards and certificates you and your staff have earned
These items can rank almost as high on the credibility factor as testimonials.

10. Articles you have published, or in which you’re mentioned
Writing articles (or being professionally mentioned in them) is a great way to become known as an expert in your field – and people like to know they are working with experts.

11. New-product or service announcements or press releases
As you network, make sure the people who might potentially hire you – or refer others to you – are immediately informed of news about your company. In addition to submitting these announcements to news outlets, you can also hand these out at meetings, or you can post them on your website and on your social media accounts.

12. Items that help you explain your business to your network
These can include: your annual report, capability statement and prospectus; your motto, mission statement or service pledge; or even a written history of your company.

13. Client or customer proposals, bid sheets, or marketing letters you have written to existing clients
Keeping this information top-of-mind will come in very handy if you are at a networking event and have the opportunity to talk to a prospective client in depth.

14. Articles on trends affecting your target market
Keeping up with issues and news items that are important to people helps you to be able target your conversation and, subsequently, your products and services more directly to your prospects you want to turn into clients.

Be sure to store your networking materials in a bin or a set of shelves built to make it easy to retrieve frequently used documents. This equipment greatly aids any company’s business networking campaign and ability to respond quickly when necessary.

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.

For more information, please visit Ivan's TNNWC Bio.

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We are a collaborative entrepreneurial, creative organization offering you hands-on, personalized assistance in every aspect of achieving your monetization, profitability and financial sustainability objectives, domestically and globally.

We don’t just “coach” you or offer you pre-packaged, push-button solutions – we listen to you, analyze your exact needs, and work within your scale of operations and your budget to: (1) create your optimal tool kit , and (2) work as your partner (with our sleeves rolled up) to implement your plan by supporting you in the most efficient and productive use of every tool.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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