One of the best ways to attract new business is through the old-fashioned method of “word of mouth”. One of the best ways to spread the word about your business is by networking. I was lucky enough to be invited to a prestigious networking group called Netweavers about one year ago. The relationships that I have made in this group have changed my business. I attribute this success to one of my mentors, Jarrad Abshire, an Executive Consultant with Ambit Energy. He not only has become a great friend, but he took me under his wing and showed me how to network. This is indeed a learned skill that has become valuable in growing my business. Typically, I enjoy “kidnapping”Jarrad and forcing him to play a round of golf while I pick his brain on business and life advice. Recently, I sat down with Mr. Abshire to get the lowdown on what has made him such a powerful networker in hopes that I can help others who struggle in this setting to become successful. I asked him a series of questions and he was kind of enough to provide me with answers that I know a lot of business owners are looking for. We covered 3 do’s and 3 don’ts of networking.
“Jarrad, you have been involved in networking for about 5 years now and have quite a presence in the community. I would like you to shed some light on what has made you successful. What are 3 things a business owner should do to improve their networking skills?”
“First, be a connector – The greatest gift you can give is the gift of helping someone else and knowing that they can never repay the favor. Make it your goal to see how many other referrals you can give and connections you can make. The golden rule applies here in every situation. If we all strive to connect each other, then each business owner becomes the one being featured/introduced.
Secondly, be consistent. Be present and attentive during weekly networking functions. Limit texting or not at all. Show respect for the person speaking by not talking. Be an active contributor to the overall success of the group by inviting guests and promoting each other. Relationships are built one relationship, one connection at a time. Make it a goal to meet each person and see how you can help them today.
Lastly, Be open minded- Meet EVERYONE and be aware that people know other people that YOU DON’T KNOW. Seek to help anyone and everyone without any justification of how they could benefit you or not. There is nothing wrong with seeking out potential strategic partners such as a relator and mortgage lender, but NEVER….NEVER…NEVER turn down a potential connection because you assume that you can’t help them. THEY KNOW PEOPLE that may want your product or service.”
“Wow, that’s great stuff man. I like your point about being open-minded. You just never know who someone may know or what they may know. Now, I don’t want to bring up the negatives, but I think there are some things that people can do to hurt their business or image while networking. In your opinion, what are 3 things to avoid or “don’ts” if you will?”
“Well, the first thing I would advise is this: Don’t Sell EVER – Seek to educate those you know, love and trust. Provide value and the prospect will make their own decision as to if they want to buy or not. A wise man once said, “people love to buy, but they hate to be SOLD.” Another way of expressing it is to find a need and fill a need with your product or service. Generally, people will do business with those that they 1) KNOW, 2) LIKE and 3) TRUST. Do your very best to make your referral partners part of your sales team. The more they understand what you do and the value they provide the better!
The second piece of advice has to do with one on one etiquette. When meeting a networking connection – DO YOUR BEST TO LEAVE your prospecting material in the car! The idea is not to use the initial meeting as an official client meeting. The #1 goal of that first connection meeting is to get to know the other person. Ask as many questions as possible about them and hopefully they will reciprocate those same questions. Seek first to understand and then the business will follow.
The third “don’t” would be not to expect quick results. Networking TAKES TIME to receive business. Most new networking partners fail to see that it really does take time to receive leads and quality referrals. You have to show up CONSISTENTLY each week and provide as much value to OTHERS FIRST. Once everyone in the room knows that you are in fact there to give first, then they will open up their sphere of influence to you for your product/services. Another key factor is that depending on what your profession may be, it may take much longer to receive a closed piece of business. For example, a realtor may only receive 1 home sale over the first 1-2 years of professionally networking, but that 1 sale could be a huge commission. Conversely, a Lawn & Landscape company has a much higher potential to receive a larger number of referrals since the average homeowner cuts their lawn at least twice a month during the grass growing season. (Average home owner moves every 5-7 years)”
“Amazing tips Jarrad. I can definitely see why you have been successful in your business. I like your advice on not expecting quick results. If we put in the time, the referrals will come. I appreciate you allowing me to share this info with other business owners in hopes that they can follow your lead.”
Joining a networking group can help the bottom line of any business, but joining is just the beginning. There is an art to network effectively as Mr. Abshire pointed out to us.
A little more about Jarrad:
– Executive Consultant, Ambit Energy (Top 1/10th % of 250,000 consultants)
– 4 years owning his own Energy Consulting Firm
– Married for 8 years, lives in Frisco
– Top Company Presenter in 2011 (12 awards given each year)
– Top 200 Performer since 2011
– Professional Networking Group he Co-Founded Supports a Local Charity each Quarter since 2010
– He and his wife serve at Fellowship Church Dallas/Plano since 2005 (1st grade to 5th grade ministry)
Good luck in your networking efforts and please share with anyone that could benefit from Jarrad Abshire’s feedback.