The following 28 business networking strategies are designed to help you make the most of your networking opportunities.

Each of the components in the strategy is summarised on this page. You can then click through to a dedicated page to get detailed information on how to take advantage of that particular component.

NOTE: This resource is a work in progress. This is the first of 29 pages. As the other pages are added, you’ll find a link in its respective section below. In the meantime, I suggest you bookmark this page and return often. And take a look at the following…

BNI West Hampstead is proud of this 29 page business networking resource. If you find it useful, please link to this page so others can benefit from it too. And if you happen to live in London Click here and try BNI now

Business networking is a marketing activity capable of generating as much business as you’d like. As with all business tasks, it’s usually only done if there is an attached revenue objective and time set aside to achieve it. More…

Schedule time for business networking

What you do with the time you invest in your business determines whether or not you’ll achieve your financial objective. Once you’ve set a revenue target for business networking, you’ll need to set aside time for the activity of networking. More…

Know who your best referral sources are

80% of a person’s referrals tend to come from 20% of his/her contacts. You can use this rule of thumb to greatly increase the referrals you get by identifying people who meet your clients before you do, and building relationships with them. More…

Identify where you can meet your referral sources

Some business networking events may attract large numbers of the very people you’d like to meet. Once you know who you’d like to meet, start looking around for events aimed at those people. You might even consider conducting such events yourself. More…

Be ready to give first

Networking is a two-way street. People who don’t contribute to others tend not to get given referrals. Developing a business networking strategy that ensures you’re always able to give value to others will increase the value you get back. More…

Who do you know?

Create a list of people you know that can provide, buy and/or generate referrals for the people you’d like to network with. More…

Reconnect with people from your past

Who did you once know that could benefit by reconnecting with you? And who in your current network would benefit? Reconnecting with people from your past is rewarding in multiple ways. More…

Identify ready-made networks

Business networking organisations such as BNI, Business Junction and Athena provide a pre-existing network you can join. Within that network there will almost certainly be people who meet your clients before you do. People you now have an opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with.

Form alliances and create power teams

When a group of committed people join forces to pursue an objective they’re more likely to achieve more than they would if they worked alone. The BNI Power Team concept makes it easier for like-minded groups to forge alliances and generate more income with less effort.

Understand the value of everyone

Any person you meet, no matter unlikely, will know several people you’d like to know. Be willing to build a networking relationship with everybody. This counter-intuitive approach to business networking strategy has the potential to unlock whole new markets.

Offer added value to your network

Business networking isn’t just about referrals. Find other ways to contribute to others, especially those who you’re less likely to generate referrals for. It might be as simple as being helpful.

It’s not the group. It’s you

Take responsibility for the results you achieve in any networking group you join. If the group is generating referrals for you (or even for the wider group), be willing to take responsibility for it. Only by taking ownership of the problem do you gain the power to solve it.

Contribute to your group’s meetings

Be willing to get involved in the day-to-day running of your networking group. This isn’t just about becoming known to others in the group. It’s about being responsible for those factors that make the group fun (to yourself and others) by injecting enthusiasm, friendliness and liveliness.

Join an Internet business networking group

Online networking requires the same skills as face-to-face. The only difference is the medium itself (i.e. the web) which allows you to network free of the limitations imposed by geography.

Give written/video testimonials

When someone has provided you with good service (business or otherwise), provide him/her with a written or video testimonial. Do this without being asked.

Request written/video testimonials

When you provide someone with good service (business or otherwise), ask for a written or video testimonial (if you have a website). You can get a Flash video device and cheap tripod for less than £100. You can then record video testimonials and upload them to your website or YouTube.

Don’t wait – ask for referrals

In the networking meetings you attend, ask to be referred to someone specific. Or to someone who knows that person. There’s a good chance someone in the room will be able to help you connect. When you discover someone knows a person you’d like to meet, ask to be introduced.

Improve your visibility within your network

Others can’t refer people to you unless they know who you are. The first step in building a strong business networking relationship is becoming more visible.

Develop your personal credibility to the people in your network

Always go the extra mile to do what you said you would, deliver it on time and be trustworthy. Your credibility within the group will grow over time, and that’s a crucial part of becoming referable (i.e. by others).

Attain profitability

When a business networking relationship matures, the people you know will have no hesitation in referring you when the opportunity arises. Networking profitability doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something you must cultivate.

Understand your business mission

Gain a deep understanding of the reasons why you’re in business. Get to grips with your passion for what you do. Being able to express this succinctly helps you communicate enthusiasm to others.

Know who you want to sell to

If you can easily and quickly explain who you’d like to meet, it makes it much easier for others to generate good quality referrals. Over the years, this will save you a lot of time and make you more money.

Understand your strategic proposition

Every business has a key proposition that positions it relative to its competitors. If you can express yours in simple terms it helps your network get the right people interested in you. And that improves the odds you’ll get high quality referrals. To ensure this happens, your business networking strategy must line up with your business strategy.

Make it easy for others to refer you (part one)

Other people spend a fraction of their time focussing on you and your business. Reinforce what you do, who you do it for and why it’s good as often as you can. Make frequent use of one-to-one meetings, and plan ahead to ensure you have something of value for the person you’re meeting.

Make it easy for others to refer you (part two)

This are article offers 11 different ways you can help other people promote your business directly, and increase your chances of getting a referral as a result.

The law of reciprocation

When you do somebody a favour, there is a natural human tendency to want to reciprocate. Almost everyone has this built-in drive, and it’s why it always pays to be generous

Be ready to answer the ‘what do you do?’ question

It’s the most common question you’ll be asked at networking events. Have a precise, engaging and intelligent answer ready to go. Think in terms of the benefit you provide rather than merely a factual description or job title.

Networking conversation openers

These conversation openers are designed to get people talking about themselves, their business and what they’d like to achieve. They’re ideal way to ensure you get remembered, and have a legitimate reason to follow up after the event.

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