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By Jeff Bowman

In the past couple of years, I have touched on some of the strategic value of being an effective networker.

There are, however,  some  little tips that may assist you in separating yourself from the “guy I met hawking business cards” to “the that person I met who really seems keen on helping me grow my business”

Subtle differences in the way you approach people can make all the difference in the world when it comes to gaining a little face time. Simple things like not walking around with your hands in your pockets, it always reminds me of a Charlie Chaplin character. Carrying around a daytimer or business portfolio has always made me a little skeptical of a networker’s intentions, and I find myself avoiding the individual because somewhere deep in the back of my mind I imagine him immediately trying to sell me encyclopedias.  Hanging around the food area is usually a sign of someone who is unsure of how to approach others, so https://riccentre.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpthey wait until they come to them. If you really need a drink at the event, get it, consume it and move back into networking. A person who has to shift their drink to another hand to shake mine or grab a business card often leaves a moist impression.

What I like to see in a networker is energy! Not the kind of kinetic energy that has them bouncing around the room like a pinball, but a good strong enthusiastic smile, strong gait and a level of confidence when approaching and speaking to me. A smile is a prerequisite of attending networking events, and should be worn everywhere.

We’ve all met the shy introverted business owner who shows up because some business coach told them they need to network to grow their business. They often flounder until someone helps them out.  As an energetic networker, it is your responsibility to seek out those people and assist them, introduce them to others you know and bring them into a friendly conversation.

I still remember the first event I attended as a business owner 11 years ago.  Even though I am outgoing and love people, I was uncomfortable. Mike walked right over to me shook my hand, asked me who I was, what I did, and immediately said to me “What type of people are you hoping to meet” I could not have felt better walking out later that evening having met several people who I call friends today.

That leads me to the second key to effective networking.  The environment. Start out small if you are new to networking. Attend some small social functions with business friends.  Practice your approach in a non threatening friendly environment. You may fare much better in your efforts at approaching people in smaller settings. In my books, there are few social events or gatherings that are not opportunities to network. I learned early, that by speaking to people at events not specifically labeled networking, it was easier to talk about my business and ask about theirs.  There was no expectation from the other person that I had to be perfect, that I knew the rules of engagement or that it was anything other than friendly conversation. The larger events represent opportunities for selective networking.  You probably know more people, even casually who would be more than pleased to introduce you to contacts they know. The onus lies with you to ask them for the introduction.

Ensure that you understand the type of networking skill to utilize in different social environments.  Family events, you can be more relaxed and comfortable. More formal social events like wedding receptions, dinners, gala’s etc require strategic minimal introductions and business card handoffs with “I’ll follow up next week, thank you”. Chance meetings at sports events for instance may allow only a few minutes for a brief interaction, with follow up made the following week to explore possible connections. Dedicated networking events, breakfasts, speaker series offer the opportunity for professional networking on a large scale, with people who are there for the same purpose you are.  Make the most of them.

When you always have a business card with you, a smile on your face and a positive attitude towards helping others grow their business connections, you can handle any environment you find yourself in.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Who do you trust?

By Stephen Rhodes

Do you trust your neighbour, your doctor, minister and mechanic?

Would you take advice from your mechanic on a new doctor, or your doctor on a new church?

Throughout our lives we build relationships with people. We not only trust them for what they promise, we often trust their opinions about things that they might not know much about.

How often have you heard a neighbour or a friend say I have a really good lawyer, accountant, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. Most of my neighbours don’t know much about any of these people. They do know that they trust the relationship they have developed and are happy to pass that along to me. A referral.

In networking parlance, a referral is the golden goose as in  I know and trust my new networking buddy well enough to refer him to one of my trusted business associates. The door opener.

Some organized networking groups force referrals and insist that participants swap names every week, providing new referrals for other participants. So either they have been holding out, like last week, or they have developed this deeply trusting relationship in the last seven days and they are about to share it with me.

Trust is at the center of all business relationships. But trust has to be earned.

Who do you trust?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Stephen Rhodes

When you approach a potential client about doing business are you ready to answer WIIFM? “What’s in it For Me” is the closer. Without it, you don’t have much of a pitch.

Depending on your business, what’s in it for me can take many forms. It’s cheaper, faster, smarter, more effective, includes a great gift, fits your lifestyle, exclusive, provides hours of pleasure, saves time, saves money, is more convenient, new and improved, keeps on ticking… I think you get the idea…it’s the why I should buy your product of service.

So, why do so many people have trouble with such a simple concept?

Think of it as your elevator speech.

It must be BRIEF -50 words or less and in plain English and not some marketing blather that sounds good but says nothing. Tell me what you do and WHY I need your product or service? Be clear, specific and honest. There must be a compelling reason for people to switch from your competitor(s) so the why I should choose you is the most important question to answer.

BE POSITIVE – Fear was once a great motivator. Who wants ring around the collar? Today it’s too easy for people to find solutions on the Internet. Tell people how you’re going to help them and not what might happen if they ignore your sage advice.

It’s a simple question. What’s in it for me?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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michael hepworthBy Michael Hepworth

Networking is the marketing tool of choice for many business owners, but many are only mildly effective at it, resulting in a huge wasted opportunity. Street smart business owners looking to raise money for a new business or looking for clients to improve cash flow, constantly find ways to optimize every marketing dollar and every marketing activity. Here’s how you can optimize your networking.

I recently conducted a very unscientific mini survey with a small number of business owners who told me their principle marketing tool was networking. I asked them why they use networking as their marketing tool of preference. Based on what I heard, I have come to the conclusion that most like it because it doesn’t really feel like work and in most cases it is non-pressured and non-threatening. It obviously works because some people have built successful businesses that way.

I too like networking, but am seldom content with meeting people and swapping business cards. This may seem like work, but it seldom yields anything other than modest results. Time is your scarcest resource and also the most perishable. You use just as much time working ineffectively as you do when working more effectively, but with some key networking skills, you can get a much greater return on your time investment. If you go to a networking meeting and only generate one lead per hour or generate 5 or 6 leads per hour your time investment is the same. I want to get the best return on my time investment I can.

business card swapI was at a recent networking meeting, where we were seated in tables of 8-10 people. Each of us was given the opportunity to introduce ourselves, say what we do for a living and tell people who we wanted to meet. I’m sure you have been to meetings like this yourself.

At our table we had a real mix. We had 2 consultants, several CEOs of start ups, an internet hosting service and a writer. Most people offered the most boring traditional; undifferentiated introductions, some of them lasting several minutes. They started with their name and simply waffled on about all of the things they do. Most people lost me after their names and what they did. Their introductions were generally passionless, un-focused, made them sound generic and in most cases, unless you were looking for those specific services, would have had no impact.

Next time someone introduces himself in a business environment, listen and see whether you agree with me. Are you guilty of introducing your self in this way? What’s it costing you if your introduction is like that?

They mistakenly think the broader the appeal the more likely they are to attract business, however the opposite is true. People want to deal with specialists and experts. So the key to an effective introduction is to use something short sharp and highly targeted that positions you as an expert. 30 seconds is all you need, if you know who your target audience is and what you create for them.

For example I am describing my current business as follows. We reduce nature’s crude oil production cycle to a few hours and do a better job. We end up with an ultra-clean sustainable synthetic liquid fuel/biocrude that leverages existing fuels refining and distribution infrastructure.

It may not be perfect, but how much more likely are you to get an interested response from an introduction like that, than simply describing all the products and services you sell? If you can make garbage and fuel sound interesting, you can certainly make your new business idea sound stimulating.

The second mistake is not telling your contacts the kind of people you want to meet. The person you may be talking to is not always going to be a suitable prospect, but may be able to introduce some prospects to you. So my insurance friend could say something like; “I want to meet CEO’s or senior execs of companies that could be potential strategic partners. Ideally these would be chemical or oil companies. Do you know anyone who I might be able to help?”

I also like to offer to send something of value to the people I meet. This is usually some piece of information that they might be interested in or find useful. Sending this gives me two contacts with the person in a short time frame, increasing the likelihood that I will be remembered and a reason to stay in touch if I want to. It sets me up as giver, not simply a taker. One of the laws of human nature is that people are more likely to reciprocate, if you first give them something useful.

Street smart business owners know networking is important and how to wring the maximum benefit out of every networking opportunity. How many ways could you improve your networking skills?

Michael Hepworth is a serial entrepreneur, with a history of successful start-ups and exits. His newest venture is Alternative Fuels Corporation. www.alternativefuelscorp.com

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jeff bowmanBy Jeff Bowman

You undoubtedly have heard that it isn’t who you know that is important to success, it is how you present your message to those decision makers once you get that golden opportunity to meet them.

There is some truth in the notion, however, that you will increase your chances for success incrementally when you multiply the opportunities to present your product or service through networking and developing what I call “channels of exposure”.

In broad terms, there is no direct sale without some form of relationship entering into the equation. The strength of the relationship is what determines the level of trust and interest. The more relationships you develop, the greater there is a chance for someone else to promote you and your products -that’s right, letting someone else sell for you based simply on the strength of your relationship with them.

business card swapNetworking provides the opportunity for you to make hundreds of contacts – granted some will provide a level of value and some will simply remain in your contact management system as contacts. But it is the harvesting of the good ones that leads to the “exposure channel”

There are many organized networking events available – hosted by professional organizations, Boards of Trade and RIC Centre.

You need a plan of attack and a well-rehearsed introduction. This is not, as many seem to think, a game of he or she who leaves with the most business cards is the winner. You may attend an event and recognize that there are only a couple of conduits available to add to your channel, and that is fine.  Prior to attending any event you need to ask yourself some questions:

Who would make a good contact for me directly? These would include all those who will buy, finance, market or will introduce you to buyers.

Who would make  great secondary contacts? Those who know others, distributors, product specialists or people who are well respected and have influence in an industry.

What have I got to offer in return? Ask yourself why is my product or service interesting, needed or of higher value than my competitors?

Armed with his infomation, you are ready to step up to the plate and swing at your selected pitches.  Don’t neglect the other opportunities that exist to build your channel at social events, sports activities, volunteering for charities or schools etc. The time it takes to introduce yourself and ask a few simple questions may be well rewarded.

So, it is who you know and how you manage the channel of exposure through networking and other activities that will determine your success rate.

Your one voice can reach a few ears. However, a combined effort will reach ears you never even imagined.  Just like in the Dr.Suess story, Horton Hears a Who, “we are here, we are here!”

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

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