And those of us who are out there actively socialising in the business world in order to purposefully build quality networks and amongst those networks identify true business soulmates, well, we know exactly what that quote means and how completely and utterly such networks transform our lives and our businesses.
While online social networks such as LinkedIn can be useful to some extent, they in no way replace person-to-person, face-to-face communication. They in no way assist us to strategically manage our communications with our networks.
Free Software for Managing our Networks
One of the best pieces of software for managing networks of connections is definitely Hubspot, to be found at www.Hubspot.com. Because this is web based (and of course the data can and should be backed up locally) you can access the system from your desk or from your mobile phone.
The Hubspot free CRM is a flexible and powerful software system, with enough features to make it both attractive and functional. It also means that your own business connections don’t make it onto the corporate system and you and only you will have access to them.
If you don’t already have a contact management system, then take a look at Hubspot and see what you think.
How to Stay in Touch
1) While you are building your network. While a lot more people understand the power of business social networks now, the majority still do not really. These people need to start building NOW. Every new contact should go into your own CRM, with extensive notes, and a diarised follow-up phone call or meeting (NOT generally an email!).
Your aim, over time, is to identify 20-25 rock-solid business soulmates who completely understand your business, and you theirs. You are highly sensitised to potential sales and completely equipped to powerfully recommend each other.
2) When your network is established. Diarise to call each of your 20-25 once each week or fortnight. You might ask “Any interesting client stories this week”. These people are your inner circle and you will want to keep them very close because of the level of friendship that you share. You will enjoy catching up for coffee, drinks, meals, having them to your home and making them an important part of your life.
There will be another group of people that you may call once every 2-10 weeks. Some of these people may in time become part of your inner circle.
There may be a third group who go on your email list, whom you can send valuable information or updates to on a regular basis. If they enjoy what they receive from you, they may become clients or refer to you some time in the future.
Organised Networking Groups
Formal networking groups can be hugely valuable in terms of placing you in a group of people who have a commitment and intention to refer to you. The problem is that, especially if they’re paid groups, the quality of the members tends to be low, even including multi-level marketers, fraudulent health “gurus” and purveyors of products and services which are based on abject lies.
We steer clear of them ourselves because we operate in the medical/health sector and fight a daily battle with quacks and fraudsters who constantly endanger our clients’ health and wellbeing. We sure don’t want to socialise with people we consider to be criminal. However if you’re not up to creating your own inner circle, a formal networking group might be a helpful way to get started.
Note 1: Steer clear of networking groups where referrals are pressured or “forced”. This is anathema to effective networking and will only result in wild goose chases as you follow up worthless referrals.
Note 2: Possibly the single most important thing you need to do with each referral relationship is to teach your business buddy precisely how to recognise a potential client for you (eg, what kinds of conversations will people be having which will alert your buddy to a possible sale) and precisely what to say in order to ensure that you receive a red-hot and exclusive referral.
See the book “Strategic Networking Payoff” in your Private Library (see your Dashboard) on this site for a comprehensive explanation of this process.