Networking is a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, advice, contacts and referrals. It is a social activity that most of us do every day as we exchange information with others. To turn a casual networking process into a valuable resource, however, it is necessary to “systematize” this process. By attending networking meetings, you can broaden your networking base while maintaining a high quality of contacts with professionals who are enthusiastic about networking.
Making and maintaining professional relationships is essential to career growth, regardless of whether you own your own business, or are employed as a service provider. Networking is an important, invaluable and essential activity for every professional that can help you both get new ideas and solve challenges in your business, but also serve as a funnel for new patients.
Trade notes and share ideas with medical spa professionals just like you at The Medical Spa Show, February 8–10, 2019, at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. AmSpa members can also join the members-only Facebook group to get real insight from other owners and practitioners from across the country.
If you are not doing anything about networking right now, it is likely that you are curtailing your prospects and ultimately harming your business opportunity.
The Power Lunch is Dead
In general, the idea of interrupting a day’s workflow to entertain a client over lunch is becoming less popular.
Business professionals rarely have time for a full sit-down lunch meeting in order to network and continue building business. Some business pros are setting up walking meetings and or networking spin classes. They’re finding active meetings to be much more productive because you can’t be distracted by your phone or laptop.
The trend of Sweatworking is certainly more common among tech or media companies, where employees tend to be more willing to stray from tradition. Even on Wall Street, however, today’s business lunches pale in extravagance compared with the meetings bankers held before the recession. Many businesses are becoming more image-conscious and, along with that, more cautious about appearing wasteful.
There are many different networking groups empowering and motivating people who want to expand the possibilities for generating business. Getting the maximum benefit out of networking requires effort and motivation, and each provider must take responsibility for their own progress.
It is important that your motivation does not dissipate once you are enjoying many successful business relationships. Relying on an established network is dangerous as any network will tend to shrink over time due to relocations, job changes, deaths and retirements. If you are not adding contacts on a regular basis and actively trying to expand your network it will naturally diminish.
Joining any new group of people can sometimes be a little scary or intimidating, but remember that this is a natural feeling for everyone. The important factor is to get out there. Everyone in the group you are visiting was a new member at one time and felt the same way. They are going to look forward to seeing you because of how many clients you have coming to visit you who are possible referral sources for them.
Though networking vastly enhances your odds of receiving positive responses, building rewarding relationships can take time. You may be lucky and develop a strong and lucrative relationship with the first person you meet. It may take you several meetings with different professionals before you find someone you are comfortable developing a relationship with.
Building trust in a relationship takes time and requires follow up with the professional concerned and the clients you refer to that professional. This establishes trust with the person who will remember that you cared enough to call and provides you with invaluable feedback on the business practices of that professional with whom you are building a relationship.
Networking is a powerful way of building professional relationships and generating new business opportunities. The more relationships you build, the more you increase your referral network, bolster your reputation, and improve the quality of your client base.
Follow these 10 steps to choose the networking group for you.
1. Research the groups in your community. There will be several types of networking groups that will have different ground rules for how they are run. For example, a group like BNI or Le Tip can only have one member of a specific profession in their group. If you are an aesthetician and admitted to this type of group you will be the only member in that category.
2. Choose groups that meet at times that are realistic with your time schedule. Your ability to be there consistently is essential to your success. If you are not a morning person and have difficulty getting up and going, perhaps a lunch time leads groups or an after-work gathering is a better choice. Showing up consistently is essential in building the relationships that will help in growing your business.
3. Try before you buy – Visit your perspective networking groups a couple of times before you decide to join. Get a feel for the people who are participating. Look how the group is organized and functions. Make sure this a match with your personality and objectives. If the group is filled with very conservative businessmen and your target is creative stay at home moms, that may not be the best fit. You must be comfortable in being able to effectively get your message across to members who can relate to your perspective and get excited to pass referrals. A final note: Watch how many qualified referrals are passed. This is the standard to measure the group by. If there are not a lot being passed this could be a sign of their ineffectiveness. You are there to build clients not just to socialize.
4. Prepare a sixty-second commercial. Let people know who you are and what you do. Make sure to be specific about what it is that you do and what types of referrals you are looking for. The best sixty-second commercials tell a story. People love to hear stories and are much more apt to listen attentively to you. Story telling takes practice, so do not worry you’re not perfect the first time out. Share examples of how you work with your clients, the attention to detail you give with each service and what makes you or your services unique.
5. Create a defining statement. A defining statement is shorter version of your sixty-second commercial. This is something that can be said in fifteen seconds or less. A defining statement should include two distinctions about you and your business. Remember people only buy for two reasons. They buy solutions to challenges or buy into good feelings; your defining statement needs both.
Example Stylist: I provide easy care and low maintenance hairstyles for men and women.
Example Aesthetician: I help people to have clear complexions and radiant, youthful looking skin.
6. You must give to get. The surest way to get referrals from your networking partners is to give them referrals. Create a book with the business cards of all your networking-partners inside. Really listen to the needs of all the people you meet. It is amazing when you are listening in this way how many requests you will get from people who need goods or services in the community. When you make referrals, you become a knowledgeable source of information for your clients to turn to. Help people achieve their goals and they will help you to achieve yours.
7. Get to know your networking partners. The key to successful networking is to build relationships with each member in your group. This takes time and your best efforts will come from setting up one– on–one meetings with your group’s members. Set up a lunch date or get together for coffee so you can discuss specifically how you can help each other. Come to your meeting prepared. Have a list of questions you can ask so you can get clear on how you can support them in referring their ideal and best client or customer. Once you have gathered information from them share the same distinctions about you and your business. The more precise you are the more likely you will help them and yourself.
•How long have you been in your profession?
•Tell me more about the products and services you offer.
•What makes your product or services unique?
•What distinguishes you from other professionals in your field?
•Who has benefited most from your products or services?
•Who is your ideal and best client and why?
•What questions can I ask prospective referrals to qualify them for you?
•Where do you find most of your best referral sources?
•What is one action I can take on this week to help you grow your business?
8. Participate in networking training. Most networking groups such as BNI or Le Tip having networking training or mentoring available. Take advantage of this because it can support you in being more effective in other larger group situations such as your local chamber of commerce where they may not have this opportunity. Not everyone is a brilliant networker or communicator right from the start. Many groups will walk you through the process of creating a dynamic presentation and how to specifically ask for your ideal and best client. Learn from experienced members of your group or within your community. Do what other successful individuals have done and you will realize the same results.
9. Know the difference between a lead and a referral. There is a BIG difference between a lead and a referral. A referral is where one of your networking partners has found someone who has a need for your service, done some qualifying of the prospect for you, given them your information or business card and told them that you will follow up with a call. When you call, they know who you are and are open to doing business with you. A lead is where someone gives you a name and says “I think this could be a good source of clients” but has not spoken to a person specifically about you. When you make contact, you are calling cold, which means you are doing all the groundwork. It is much more powerful to have someone else sell your products or services’ features and benefits.
10. Diversify your interests. Belonging to more than one networking group can have its advantages. You can reach out to a broader pool of perspective clients. For example if you have a couple of different favorite client choices, belonging to two different groups could help you bring both types in. Some networking professionals say that they attribute their success to belonging to five different network spheres of influence. These can include church, professional industry specific organizations, social clubs and networking groups
Carry your cards with you wherever you go. You never know when the perfect opportunity will arise and gain you additional business.
Bryan Durocher is the author of Wakeup Live the Life You Love in Beauty, and is the founder of Essentials Spa Consulting and Durocher Enterprises. Durocher was named one of the “Top 20 People to Know in the Beauty Industry” by Global Cosmetic Industry magazine, and provides coaching, consulting, global industry trends, and marketing solutions for medical spa, spa and industry professionals internationally. He has published many articles and has provided business education internationally at a variety of national and international industry events including AmSpa’s Medical Spa & Aesthetic Boot Camps and The Medical Spa Show.