Networking: It’s A Mistake For Small Businesses To Overlook This Marketing Tool

It’s been said, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” This phrase applies especially to those who want to master the art of brown-nosing as they climb up the corporate ladder in a large, multi-billion dollar company.

But this article isn’t for those people. This article is for the entrepreneurs and small business owners out there who are wondering:

a.) “How can I get the word out about my company?”

b) “Where can I get more leads and sales?”

c.) “Where can I meet other like-minded business owners and employees to learn and exchange ideas?

There are many ways to market a business. The obvious one is direct marketing such as newspaper ads, flyers, brochures, TV commercials, and radio spots. All of these are great when done correctly. But first, you have to decide which medium is right for you, and then you have to design or pay someone to develop your message. Once that’s done, you sit and wait for a response. Direct marketing works, but it has to be done correctly to get a good return on investment. You probably won’t get it right on the first try and fine-tuning your strategy is the only way to go about get profitable results.

Networking as a Marketing Tool

There is another way to market your business with a lot of extra benefits that you just can’t get with direct marketing. It’s called Networking. Most small business owners and new business owners either don’t do it, or don’t do it enough. Those who are doing it know that it works. There are many ways to network and this article will go into detail on many of them. And no, we’re not talking about “networking” with the stranger at the gas station and telling him all about your business.

My business, a graphic and web design studio, was only a few months old when I realized it was time to start meeting new leads face to face. Yes, I was initially keeping busy as I exhausted the “friends, family and their referrals” resource, but I knew that my business needed something else if I was going to be in it for the long haul. I started with one networking event which I dreaded going to because I did not like meeting new people. I’m great around people when I know them, but I had a hard time talking to complete strangers, especially business professionals.

The first event was a Chamber of Commerce lunch. From then on, my desire to meet other business owners hit the ceiling. I was shy at first, but you just have to throw yourself in with the sharks, so to speak. I quickly got over my fear of talking to new people as well as my fear of public speaking. If you love talking to new people, than you can just skip the whole “getting used to it” step. Some small business owners are very good at running their business, but contact with other people may not be their strong point. That is why you either have to force yourself to network, or have another, more gregarious person in the business do it for you.
Networking is great because there are a lot of things happening at once. You are meeting driven people like yourself. You are talking about your business and learning about other small businesses. You are exchanging ideas that will benefit everybody in the group. Eventually, once people know and trust you, you will start getting leads and sales.

You have to put in the work and time to get results from networking. Networking is about developing relationships and that doesn’t always happen on the first try. There is a lot of commerce going on in our capitalistic society, so when you are producing a high ticket item like a custom website, home remodeling or financial services, people will be much more inclined to buy from you if they trust you. The same principal applies to pretty much anything you are selling. Once people learn that you are a legitimate business owner, then they will have no problem buying from you or referring someone who will.

OK, enough about networking in theory. Let’s explore some groups, organizations, and other ways to actually network.

Open Networking Groups

Chamber of Commerce – Almost every city has one. Some are invaluable while others can be a complete bummer. It really depends on where you are and who is running the organization. Our local chamber of commerce has been great for kick starting my networking bug. Although I met other people in my industry that may be competition, I have actually formed alliances and a referral system for exchanging business with them. In addition, you’re meeting a ton of people in other industries that you can learn from. There are some common factors that apply to all businesses, so its beneficial for you to learn how other people are running their business so you can borrow or innovate upon their ideas.

Just search Google for “Your city: chamber of commerce.”

Small Business Alliances – I know my town has one and it’s incredibly beneficial because they focus on the growth side of running a business. They help with all the questions a small business owner could have like: What do I need to know about my lease, do I want a 401K plan for employees, or who can help me find a good insurance? Anything in regards to the growing pains of a small business! Try this site and see if there’s a local chapter http://amiba.net/. Keep in mind, there are a bunch of other small business alliances that don’t have to do with American Independent Business Alliance. My SBA is actually a local one that is not associated with the AMIBA.

Meetup.com – Yes, there’s actually a site out there that networks people and brings them together in real life. I have yet to go Meetup.com event, but that’s only because I found out about the site a few weeks ago. It looks very promising. The “Meet-ups” are usually free, and if they cost money then it is usually going to pay for food, drinks, and the space.

Meetup.com has every kind of group imaginable, from single mother meet-ups to Dungeons & Dragons meet-ups. If you look hard enough, you’ll find the golden nuggets that relate directly to small businesses, entrepreneurs, or even your industry. The good thing about Meetup.com is that you can start your own group if they don’t have what you’re looking for!

Rotary Clubs – We are not part of a Rotary club yet, but it is a well established business networking organization that helps out the community. Being part of a Rotary can add extra credibility to your business. From their site: “Rotary is the world’s oldest service club organization. It’s made up of more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in nearly 170 countries. The members of these autonomous clubs are called Rotarians, and they form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Individual Rotary clubs, in turn, belong to the global association Rotary International”

Leads Groups – These groups have one goal in mind: networking. Some are national and others have one chapter. Some are open and others are closed. You have to look hard to find these groups, but they can be some of the best resources out there.

Search Google for “Leads Groups: Your City”

Closed Groups
LeTip – This is a networking group that only allows one company from each industry, hence the closed group title. The exclusivity of closed groups is great if you can get in with a good group that has every intention of getting bigger. That means you will have all of the members acting as your salespeople, which is far more cost-effective than hiring a sales team of 20+ individuals.

This group has a greater sense of trust among the members than say a “Chamber of Commerce,” because you are with them every week and you get to know each member and their business individually. There are a ton of chapters throughout the US so check it out at http://www.letip.com

BNI – Very similar to LeTip. One company per industry. Both BNI and LeTip have training programs that help you learn how to market yourself to other people quickly and effectively. The one catch is that closed groups usually do not let you be a part of other closed groups, so you have to pick one you like and stick with it. Loyalty is important. If you have more than one person in your company, divide yourselves among the different closed groups. Visit http://www.bni.com for more information.

Networking is essential for small business growth.

I’m sure I missed a lot of groups in the list because I don’t know what they all are. Some heavy searching on the internet or communication with other business owners can yield some great results for your area.

I’m fairly new to the networking game. I can’t imagine what it will be like a year or two down the road but I promise you it will be exciting. There is no other way to grow a business like small business networking because you’re going to be face to face with like-minded people. They are either going to be your clients, allies, or in some cases both.

One thing is for sure though: if you stick with these like-minded individuals in the groups and organizations mentioned above, your business will grow faster than you could have imagined. If you’re sick of spending money on direct marketing or if you just sit around on your butt wondering why your business is not growing, get out there and meet new people. The worst case scenario is that you’ll make a friend and get a free meal.

Why Network Marketing Rocks!

Network marketing has been tainted by scam artists who market their “get rich quick” poison. I am here to tell you that in spite of the few “masters of deception”, this industry has many high-quality individuals who desire to do business the right way. Eric Allen, founder of MLM Mainstream, is leading the charge to create a new culture of honesty and transparency in the network marketing arena.

Until I met Eric, I was true skeptic of MLM. I just didn’t believe in the business model, nor did I believe that it was a viable business opportunity for the mainstream American! However, having spent almost a year in this business, I have learned several things. 

1) Network marketing does work! 

2) People do make money! 

3) You can be totally transparent and be successful! 

4) Direct sales marketing is one of the few business models where the key to success is investing in relationships! 

5) People who have a track record of success endorse network marketing.

If you are in a direct sales business and you are experiencing frustration, let me encourage you to hang in there. You won’t get rich over night, but I can promise you that you will be successful if you adhere to some core principles.

1) Be a lifelong learner! Plug in to company training.

2) Establish your “whys” and don’t settle until you achieve them!

3) Become a leader of leaders. Build your business by building people!

4) Don’t quit on network marketing! It does work! Reevaluate your current opportunity but please don’t assume that it doesn’t work. In fact, network marketing does work if you persevere and plug in!

Get to work today on building your business! Make it happen for you and your family. You can do it because you rock! AND SO DOES NETWORK MARKETING!

Blessings!

How to Make the Most of Your Network Marketing Business Opportunity

A network marketing business opportunity can provide you with a SUBSTANTIAL income and set you up to be paid a residual income for life! There is no other industry that allows a relative new comer to get in, get started and immediately begin to benefit from the efforts of others.

So, today you and I are going to take some time to go over a few tips to have you from where you are now to being a Top Producer in your Network Marketing Business Opportunity.

There are a couple points I’d like to get out of the way real quick. This is a business. It’s true that you can work this business part time and reap some amazing rewards. However, it will require you to work those hours like a business owner. The second point I’d like to make is about your circle of influence.
Think about the words for a minute: NETWORK…MARKETING…BUSINESS…OPPORTUNITY

NETWORK: It has been said over and over again that your Net Worth is directly correlated to your Network. So, when you’re getting started with your business opportunity, you are going to want to get other like minded individuals involved. No more friends, family and three foot rule. Unless, of course, your friends are all savvy business minded individuals, your family is full of entrepreneurs and every one in a three foot radius of you is at the bank looking for a small business loan. Look, you are…

RUNNING A BUSINESS!!! NOT A HOBBY

MARKETING: Every successful business on the planet has a Marketing/Advertising and Sales team. Why would you take advantage of a Network Marketing Business Opportunity and think you don’t have to do the same. I will give you some slack here simply because I understand that you were probably told that the product/opportunity is so good it will sell itself. Along with, “we don’t sell anything, we offer opportunities.” I’ve got news for you, if wither of these statements were true, the company wouldn’t need you. The fact is the better you become at Marketing/Advertising and sales, the more successful your business will be. If these are not your strong suits, don’t worry you can be taught all of this with proper training and leadership; which, incidentally, is where the real money is made in this industry.

BUSINESS: Businesses are successful because they run on repeatable, proven and successful systems. Think about McDonalds for just a minute. That entire franchise can be run with a staff of High School kids with one young twenties Manager. Is it because McDonalds has a nack for hiring the most qualified kids on Earth? No, it’s because the system is so repeatable that the pieces of the puzzle don’t matter. If one person quits, there will be someone there within a few minutes to take their place and the business doesn’t skip a beat. So, knowing this, does your Network Marketing Business Opportunity run a system or does your business change every day depending on what you got done or what you didn’t get done? Is it easy for a new recruit or a new retail customer to find your business, take advantage of your offer and become a distributor in one fluid motion? Or is it confusing, hard to find and unclear what your ultimate goal is? I can tell you right now that a confused mind DOES NOT BUY!! By the way….

A System Works Even When You Don’t!!

OPPORTUNITY: This is the backbone of the entire industry. When you got into your Network Marketing Business Opportunity you were SUPER excited about the opportunity that was provided to you. Remember this while you’re running your business. Your prospect is going to be just like you when you got started; very excited and ready to take on the world and most important…make some money!! Keep this in mind and keep the excitement of your new recruits high! You do this by being a great leader and giving them answers to get started quickly and profitable. The sooner you can have your recruit making money the longer and more substantial your business will be. I’m sure you’re wondering how to do that right? That’s easy, just re-read this article and you’ll be on the right track.

A Network Marketing Business Opportunity truly can change your life. I hope today is the day you decide to take yourself and your business seriously. Just remember the words involved in this great industry…NETWORK…MARKETING…BUSINESS…OPPORTUNITY.

Your opportunity is ready for you, it’s just waiting for you to raise your hand and tell it your are ready! I hope today is that day and NOW is the time!!