Effective Networking Tips: The Power of Understanding Who is in Your Network

Simone Douglas

Simone Douglas

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Goals are code for talking about your dreams. How well you communicate these dreams to your network will determine your success in BNI, and the same can be said in business. While the following effective networking tips are inspired for BNI members, they can certainly translate well for anyone wanting to achieve business success.

So how do we go about the process of really understanding who is in your room and your wider network at large? BNI members have a great head start because we use a tool called the “gains” exchange but as with any tool some people use it better than others, so today I thought I would share the twenty questions I feel are critical to a successful one to one (121) meeting and why. Whether you use these effective networking tips with your friends, colleagues or clients is up to you but they have proven very useful for me.

Four questions to ask about GOALS (this is code for DREAMS)

If your business was ticking all the boxes for you, what would that look like in the next 6 months?

Why: If I understand what this looks like I can Identify the gaps, maybe I can help solve some challenges for you with an introduction to someone, most importantly I start to understand really what you are trying to achieve and I buy into your dream.

What types of clients/ potential referral partners and in what industries do I need to introduce you to in order to help make that happen?

Why: Once I know who it is that can really help you from a referral partner or client perspective and why it is a mutually beneficial introduction, it is easier for me to find a way to open that door and I am going to be more comfortable in doing so.

If you landed your dream client in Adelaide who would that be?

Why: Because maybe I know them and more importantly we like to help people achieve their dreams.

Who in my network can help you take another step towards achieving your dreams for your business?

Why: Because I am not the answer for everything and the most powerful thing you can do in life and in business is connect people to people for mutual benefit.

Four questions to ask about ACHIEVEMENTS (this is code for WINS)

If I met your dream client or knew them what’s the best story, I can tell them about someone similar that you have helped that will get their attention?

Why: Because we all like to brag about the people in our networks and how clever they are but you have to give me the story to tell.

What is the most difficult problem or challenge you overcame for a client and what was the benefit to the client?

Why: Because outcomes count way more than what ifs. Giving me a great example that talks to dollars saved, opportunities won or a reduction in stress and I have something tangible I can share.

If I was bragging about you and your business at a BBQ what’s the one story you think I should tell that people will remember?

Why: Because this is a great conversation starter if the opportunity presents itself.

What has been your biggest achievement to date that will help me build your credibility with a potential referral source over other people who do what you do?

Why: Because if I don’t have this information I am not going to be comfortable suggesting that my client/friend/family member talks to you over the person that their butcher/local hairdresser or accountant suggested.

Four questions to ask about INTERESTS (this is code for LIFE)

When you aren’t having fun at work what else do you enjoy doing?

Why: This is where the common ground is for most people and it also opens doors to networks you may not be aware of.

When you socialise what kind of events do you enjoy?

Why: If I understand this then when I am finding a way to put you together with my wider networks I am not going to

What does work life balance look like for you?

Why: This starts a conversation about what’s working for people and what’s not and potentially gives you an opportunity to help in other ways.

What’s the one thing on your personal bucket list that you would love to do in the next 2 years?

Why: Helping someone achieve a bucket list item is an EPIC way to make a great friend for life.

Four questions to ask about NETWORKS (this is code for CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE)

When it comes to health and fitness what kind of stuff do you do?

Why: Because these are networks too

What industry associations or peak bodies are you a member of?

Why: Because by working out what you are involved in I can potentially introduce you to other opportunities.

You mentioned X are great referral sources for you have you been to any of their industry association mixers or events?

Why: Because this may uncover some new networking opportunities that you can look at together.

If we were to go to a networking event together to try and find business for each other or add members to our chapter what event should we go to?

Why: Because networking with someone who knows your business well and wants to help you achieve your dreams is pretty powerful stuff and lots more fun than flying solo.

Three questions to ask about SKILLS (this is code for DIG DEEPER)

What specialist skills do you have that have nothing to do with your current career that might help me open a door for you with a referral?

Why: Because in life people have long and interesting careers and once I understand your skills catalogue I can be more creative with my introductions.

What unique skills do you have outside of work?

Why: Because people complain often about the things they struggle with or are interested in and If I know what your hidden talents are again it’s a great way to open a door.

Is there something you would love to learn how to do or to master that you haven’t yet?

Why: Maybe I am interested in the same things or again maybe it has just helped me understand what made you tick.

The FINAL Question (Don’t skip this one)

Based on my networks who would you like me to invite as a visitor to our next meeting?

Words are CHEAP

For my BNI Members

Take ACTION

Book your next 6 weeks of 121’s today

Use the 20 Questions to dig deeper than ticking the box.

Go to their offices, work sites or favourite places.

TAKE NOTES and then DO SOMETHING with them

So what’s the point?

Imagine the power of a network of Givers who know how to tell your story, how to brag about you, and how to open the doors that you don’t have the keys to. Now go and DREAM BIG. Try these effective networking tips and see how well they can work for you!

Want to find out more about BNI? Contact us for details, or to attend a chapter meeting.

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