In this article, Heather Townsend, based on the research for ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, talks about how the best networkers use four ingredients to create new business via their network.
I am sure that all of us want to be able to bottle the formula for networking success. When I was researching for ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, I think I hit on that formula. Very simply the best networkers are using four ingredients required to run their word of mouth marketing campaigns; namely, credibility, a marketable personal brand, top-of-the-mind visibility and high levels of social capital.
Let’s start with credibility. Credibility means your ability to ‘walk the walk and talks the talk’ AND delivers on all their commitments. Before someone is willing to risk their reputation, by recommending you to someone within their network, they want to know that you are credible; i.e. committed, will conduct yourself appropriately and will be able to deliver on something they put you forward for.
It’s not enough to just be good at what you do, i.e. credible. You need to be visible to others – or as some people call it ‘profile’. With online networking giving people more choice over who within their network to recommend or contact, it has becomes easier to gain visibility with more people; but harder to maintain ‘top-of-the-mind’ visibility with the people who are more likely to help you achieve your business goals.
To achieve ‘top-of-the-mind’ visibility, you could:
- Regularly be present at local face-to-face networking events,
- Attend all the meetings of your formal networking club
- Post on forums regularly
- Update your status daily on social networking sites
- Tweet regularly during the day
- Send a regular newsletter to your network
- Turn up to company formal and informal social events
- Regularly send articles of interest to your network
As people’s networks are getting larger, it’s not enough to just be visible and credible – your personal brand has to be marketable and compelling to referrers. Just as you make a choice about a brand every time you purchase a product from a retailer, people make a choice about your personal brand every time they recommend your services. So, what do we mean by a personal brand? It’s what people say about you when you leave the room and they google your name. And this is a key point – your personal brand is now as much as what the internet says about you, as what others say about you.
And finally, the last of the four ingredients is social capital. Social Capital is the imaginary bank account that you build up by being helpful to people. Social capital can be measured by the breadth and the depth of your network, the strength of your relationships within that network, and the good will and level of influence you have within that network. Remember, that people have to WANT to refer you – and that takes influence and goodwill, which you need to gain over time.
The bigger your personal reach and your level of influence within your network, i.e. your social capital, is the last ingredient needed to make your word of mouth marketing campaign successful.
When you are networking, are you routinely adding in the ingredients – credibility, visibility, marketable personal brand and social capital – needed to generate opportunities?
If you have enjoyed reading this article, take the next step to successfully using networking to grow your business by buying your copy of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking