Networking is so important in today’s environment, and without understanding how to properly network you can waste lots of time and energy. Networking is not about finding clients, it is about finding potential strategic alliances.
A strategic alliance is someone with whom you meet on a regular basic to share your “Rolodex” of contacts with each other to help make direct introductions and avoid the dreaded “cold call.” Building strategic alliances is such a powerful tool to get referrals (which, as I’ve discussed before, is the best way to build your business). The bottom line is givers gain; when you give, you will get back.
So let’s take strategic alliances to the next level. Linda, our senior consultant, shared a method with me that she had introduced to one of our clients. It was truly brilliant, so I would like to share it with you.
Linda had been working with Sean, a masonry contractor, who had lots of contacts but didn’t have a lot of time to go on “strategic alliance meetings.” Linda and I shared with him how important these meetings were in building your business. Frankly, it wasn’t something he was able to do at the level he needed due to his time constraints. After working with Sean to come up with other ideas, Linda suggested “A Strategic Roundtable.”
My first question was of course, “what is a strategic roundtable?” A strategic virtual roundtables is the assembling of several people to exchange the “basic” information; a little bit about them, what makes them different, and what a good referral for them would be. The purpose of these meetings is to learn a little bit about your cohorts and try to help each other with introductions and referrals.
So for you, here’s how it works. Think about some of the people that you know that would be considered a “strategic alliance.” These are people that do not compete with you, but typically are in associated businesses. For Sean’s masonry business, it made sense to invite a shell contractor, a drywall contractor, a commercial insurance agent, and several others. You want to have between 8-10 people all together.
When you are inviting them, you want to tell your alliances that you would like to put some people together so “we can each share what our particular advantages are and what a good referral is for each of us, and as we’re out and about we can keep our eyes and ears open for referrals for each other.”
At the actual meeting let everyone know they have about 10 minutes to share a bit about their company and some specifics about who they would like to meet or to whom they would like to be introduced. There is ABSOLUTELY no selling at this meeting. It is only to share information so we you can each help each other.
So here’s the bottom line; to setup a “Strategic Round Table” is to learn about others businesses and how you can help them. In turn, YOUR business will prosper. Plus, giving is what we should be doing first in business and in life!