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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Networking -- some effective ideas

"Networking" is perhaps one of the most effective (and inexpensive) marketing techniques. The concept is to build relationships that provide referrals and connections; and to discover opportunities in the hidden environment.

Networking gives you a real competitive edge, even in environments with RFP/Open Bid proposal arrangements. The reason is that, if you have been in business any length of time, that many opportunities are wired in favour of one group even though they are supposed to be fair and open.

Networking allows you to call on the informal connections and associates, to avoid wasting your time on impossible files, and to get the edge on the ones that are truly available to you. You can find the hidden opportunities this way.

But how do you network effectively?

I will start out by telling you what doesn't work -- those phoney 'networking events' where salespeople try to pitch stuff to other uninterested salespeople. Yuck. Beyond being insincere, these things don't get you closer to your real market (though there is a way to turn even a 'bad event' into a good one).

More effective networking models include:

1. Organized lead exchange groups and associations, such as executive associations. I will discuss some options here next issue.

2. A fascinating concept "netweaving" where you put your own interests aside and focus on the others' needs -- this really can even save a bad event.

3. Developing your own customer base, and connections, and recognizing where these are.

4. Using industry associations and groups with multi-city membership, and developing an effective referral and associate participation strategy with them.

I will give you some suggestions on each of these topics over the next week.

Mark Buckshon can be reached by phone at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or by email at

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