As we enter the summer season of “making hay,” we’re
receiving a lot of requests and having many discussions with firms across the
country about their renewed commitment to business development. It made me think of the importance of
the activities I highlighted in my January 28, 2009 post, Must
Do Busy Season Marketing Activities, and specifically on the
need to broaden your team members’ involvement in personal networking.
As Brian Tracy, a best-selling
author said, “Get around the right people. Associate with positive, goal-oriented
people who encourage and inspire you.” Expanding your network of potential influencers and creating quality
relationships are a few of the many benefits of networking. If you’re like most professional
service firms, your practice relies heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth
marketing. Because of that,
networking and referral relationship development are critical to your success.
So, how are you
doing in your networking activities? Do you have regular networking activities on
your calendar on a monthly (even weekly!) basis? Are you teaching others in your firm to network?
a few networking “must-dos” that will help you smooth out the peaks and valleys
in your revenue stream:
• Get involved – Find an
organization to which you can commit – or recommit – to actively participate. Make sure it’s one that you’re inspired
by and where you can build quality relationships and referral sources. If you’ve been involved in an
organization or group for awhile, identify a new leadership role you could take
on or evaluate whether you should join another organization or association to
augment your current networking activities.
• Participate in online networking
activities – At a minimum, join LinkedIn! Yes, we consider online
social networking technologies, like LinkedIn,
Plaxo, and Facebook, to be worthwhile networking
investments (see my partner Jennifer Wilson’s post on Social
(On-line) Networking – It's For Real! from September 23, 2008). You’ll
be amazed at how many people you know, and more importantly, want to know, who are
out on LinkedIn waiting to connect with you. You can begin by connecting with me and Jennifer at www.linkedin.com/tameraloerzel
or www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferwilsonprofile. Then, “vampire” off of our connections
to see how many of those we know are your colleagues or potential business
resources and connect with them, too.
• Integrate your contacts into your other
firm marketing activities – Add the people you meet through your networking
activities to your firm’s database so they receive your newsletter, seminar or
training event invitations, and other marketing communications. Doing so will
keep them informed about what is happening with your firm and keep you top of
mind between meetings.
• Ask for referrals – You
network to uncover new business opportunities and so do the people you meet at
the networking events you attend. Don’t be shy about this. Find out what their
objective is, what kinds of clients they are looking for, and what problems
they can solve and the value they provide to clients. Then share this same information about you and your firm and
explain your ideal client profile and firm products and services to them. Ask who
they know that could benefit from your products or services and offer up any
ideas for how knowing you could be of benefit to them. Your goal is to create a win-win
relationship with each referral partner so that you can increase your value to
your existing clients by making appropriate referrals and develop new client
business for your firm.
• Mentor others – Teach
others in your firm the art of personal networking. Take at least one “up-and-comer”
with you to each of the networking activities you attend. Share your goal or objective for each
networking activity with them and the background about the organization. Don’t assume that they know networking basics
and teach them to bring their business cards, practice their firm elevator
pitch, practice their hand shake and making eye contact, and create their own
personal intention for their networking activities. Also, encourage them to “shop around” and join networking
organizations where they feel comfortable and that inspire them; if they aren’t
truly interested in their networking organizations, they won’t participate
Networking is a long-term marketing strategy that could generate
short-tem results when you actively participate. A referral occurs as soon as
there is a need, so you want to be sure that you’re top of mind when those you
network with have that need, and the only way to be top of mind is to be present
Commit – or recommit – to your personal networking plan and
enroll others in your firm in doing the same. One way to do so is to attend our web seminar on
networking on June 9th. Invite others in your firm to join you and refocus on
networking so you each can do your part to brand your firm, develop referral
relationships, and create a steady flow of new opportunities.
action will you take to focus – or refocus – on personal networking? Post a
comment to share your commitment with others and learn what they are doing in
the area of networking, too.