We need to start by asking a few questions.
First, Who do you want to network with?
It may not be who you think. When first starting out, people will think they want to network with their potential clientele. But that is not the right approach. At least not when you first start out.
When people think about it that way, it instantly puts them into a position of need, want, and pursuit. That’s why they feel creepy about networking.
So who DO you want to start to network with? To begin with, it should be people that share your same clientele. You want to start connecting with people that share your same customers and people that influence them the most. I’m talking about other professionals and experts that they trust and rely on for other services and products.
Think about it, what other businesses share your clientele? Of those businesses, who has the biggest social following and would be considered an authority? Those are the people you want to network with. These are the whales in your market.
The next question is, how do you find them?
Besides the obvious, manually searching online for other business niches that serve your clientele, you can search for associations, clubs and community groups. Then look to see who their leaders are. Make a list of those people.
There are also automation tools to help you with hunting the “whales”. But I’ll have to get into that later. I can share those with you in a more in depth resource when we get to that stage of the step by step process.
Third question, How do you approach them so it doesn’t feel creepy?
Keep in mind, these people are not your direct competition. They’re leaders in a related niche that shares your same clientele. They can benefit from a relationship with you because you also have their customers. That means you’re also a valuable networking connection.
Since you serve their same clientele, that means you can do things for their customers. Here’s where you can get creative. You can approach them with an offer to cross promote to each other’s database with a giveaway or incentive that will make your potential networking partner look like a hero. And that’s what you always want to do. Make your connections look good to their clientele.
Another way to approach them is to have a third party introduce you. That means you would get someone else to make the connection for you. This has a lot of benefits. Not the least of benefits is that the third party is lending their credibility in making the introduction.
Just find a connection you have and ask if they would mind introducing you to your potential networking partner. Have them use this simple script: “Hey _____, I know someone you should meet. They share your same clientele. Would you like their connection link? (pause) I’ll share yours with them to, if you don’t mind.”
Have them share with the potential networking partner why it’s a good idea to connect with you. It’s always a good idea to make it about how it will benefit them or better yet, their customers.
You can also straight up offer to send them referrals. Offer to recommend them and look for ways to openly promote their business.
And this answers the fourth question:
What incentives can you offer to entice them with?
If you let your imagination run, this can be almost endless. I’ll just share a few more examples here.
It would be easy to do something that would promote their business in a flamboyant way. Of course you would ask them if it’s okay first and give them a good reason for your act of generosity. But remember, this is not a one off deal. You want to be a consistent good doer. You want to serve as a good example of what it means to “give first”.
As an example, I’ve done reviews of local businesses and gave them video testimonials of my experience with their business. Then I connected with them on social media and shared the video with them. I know they know a lot of people in town. And it wouldn’t bother them a bit to connect me with someone they know if I asked now.
It’s about who you know and who they know you want to know. Ya know?
Offer to connect them with other super influencers. Everybody knows that the connections they make in life are the most valuable assets they will ever have. With the right connections, anything is possible.
You can offer to publish a piece of content about them or their product or service on your company blog, Youtube channel or social media. Look for the people and companies that are doing good things and publish about them on some media that is easy to share. Make it a round up and include more than one person or business. You could even go as far as having it published it as a press release.
I know this may seem crazy, or even extreme but when you know the value of a great networking partner, it all makes sense.
Question number five, who do you know that they know?
If have been actively networking at all, there’s a good chance that you know someone that knows the people that you want to connect with.
Social and business networks like Facebook and Linkedin are gonna be your fastest tools to see other people’s connections. Once you have identified a few top level influencers you would like to network with, just do a web search for them one at a time. When you find them on social networks, make a connection request. If you get connected, then you can look at their connections to see who you have in common.
Next you can search local business communities and associations. Chamber of commerce and civic associations like Rotary International are a couple of ideas.
Then, they may also be active members in a local church. Pastors and Deacons are great pivotal hubs in small communities that often times have a lot of connections.
When you want to connect, always think community. The bottom line is that we are building communities and networks to benefit us all.
But now I bet you’re wondering what happened to the part about automating this networking process. Okay, you’ve come this far, you deserve it.
How to do networking automation
Like most automation processes, it’s not all automated. There are just some parts that can be done with software tools and outsource help. But there are also networking platforms that make it easy and less awkward.
To find the whales, I am having a piece of software developed that will automate that task. And you can get access to it as a perk inside my private business referral network. But even if you didn’t want to join, you could get access to it by getting a subscription to use it. I call it The Whale Hunter software for obvious reasons. Just check my site to see how to get access to it.
We also have a membership directory that you can put your business profile on and we have a private forum. We also have a private Linkedin group for you to join to find like minded business influencers that are there specifically to network.
The next part of the automation process comes from having a system set up like a lead generation funnel used for marketing online. You would have your lead magnet, an incentive offer and a lead capture software to collect contact info like emails, names, business names and social profiles.
But if you want to supercharge your referral process, you can automate your referral fee payments and track them with special sharing links. Have specific products, offers or services set up online as affiliate programs like I do some of my online promotional services and the network membership.
If you have a system like that set up, it would be quick and easy to get outside affiliate marketers, bloggers, promotional agents and commission sales reps to promote your best offers. Most programs that pay referrals automatically, also supply some training and sales materials.
To make it super convenient and automated, have a video produced that gives your elevator pitch in about 30 seconds. I call it a “Perfect Pitch Video” and have a specific formula for making them. One can be made for aver specific product and service offered. Again, if you want to see how this is done, the full details will be inside our private networking community or you can get my tutorial package.
Conclusion, ultimately, a person can only deal with and maintain so many relationships. That makes it even more important to start with a filtering mechanism to let you know who is high quality and highly interested in a relationship with you.
So, finally, and as a bonus question,
Why would you be a good connection?
As a reminder, the outreach or introduction has always got to be about how your relationship can benefit the influencer. It’s not about asking anything from them until you have earned it. They may not even want anything you have to offer, and that’s okay. You may just be valuable to them because of who you know and your influence alone. Remember, it’s who you know and who those you know knows that matters. The point is that your never trying to connect on the basis of what’s in it for you. The focus has to always be, what’s in it for them.
And while automation will be a great head-start, it is really just the beginning of a long term, profitable relationship with a top influencer that shares your market clientele, interests and business style.
So, if all this makes sense and it resonates with you, then your gonna want to go deeper into the specific tools and techniques to systematically automate and outsource the process.
I can share a step by step video tutorial for free as a perk for being in my network. Or if that doesn’t fit, I also offer it as a stand alone training program.
The lead generation funnel would get your potential partners into your network and give you permission to communicate with them. We can set this up for you too, if you like.
Would you like a cheat sheet I just created for myself to do inluencer networking?