The rationale of this programme is that, simply, businesses are people. All businesses need to be aware of the power of networking and advocacy as a means of obtaining clients. Often, it is the most productive use of businesspeople’s limited time and resources. And, networking is often an activity businesspeople engage in—yet, often, with disappointing results. This is an area where minimum levels of understanding and expertise are necessary for success and this programme enables participants to reach and exceed those levels.
The programme has two underlying objectives:
1 To give participants insight into the subject. If they know what is going on for them and for other businesspeople, and they understand why, they are empowered to network better.
2 To provide participants with approaches, techniques and tools which they can use to network more effectively and, thereby, bring in more clients.
This programme is made up of a number of interrelated modules. Clients are advised to book participants onto them in the following sequence though, of course, each module can be taken separately.
I: Strategy for client acquisition
II: Business networking
III: Developing productive advocacy relationships
Modules II and III greatly amplify the most important parts of module I.
Each module is 2 days separated by at least two weeks (2 × 7 hours, with ‘homework’ between the days).
This module covers the full process of acquiring clients from before the prospect has been identified to after their agreement, as a client, to the proposal. By seeing each of these activities as being part of a smooth, integrated process, the tasks will be easier and more successful.
Overview of the process
An emotionally intelligent approach to acquiring clients focuses on building strong business relationships with advocates and other intermediaries and on good communication. A successful business is one in which the people are good at this—being good at delivering the services and products is something that others should be able to take for granted.
Defining your target market
Defining target markets is important as it enables prospective clients to be identified and approached. It also enable effort to be minimised by avoiding fruitless avenues. Criteria for defining markets, and individual prospects.
Choice of networking forum(s)
Networking events are the preferred way for finding people to develop profitable relationships with. Criteria for selecting particular networking forums. How much effort to devote to networking in order to generate a given amount of business. We present a simple algorithm. Overview of networking [this is expanded in module II].
Overview of advocacy relationships
Purpose of finding advocates. Estimating how much work you’ll need to put into the relationship. Benefits. ‘Quid pro quo’ arrangements. Overview of advocacy [this is expanded in module III].
Converting prospects to clients
Once you have some good leads from your advocates, how to meet the prospect. Attitude. How many meetings, their purpose and, essentially, their structure. How to avoid having to “close the sale” by making ht prospect the continual focus of attention.
Bids and proposals
The pros and cons of proposals. When to write a proposal (and when to write something looser). What to put in it. Why statements of what the seller is going to do are better considered separately from the proposal (and paid for by the client). The position of the proposal in the wider process of the prospect becoming a client. [A separate course is available on this subject.]
Transitioning to service provision
Once the client has accepted the proposal, how to set up client management relationships and communication channels.
Many business people are reluctant to use networking for a variety of reasons ranging from beliefs about its effectiveness to fear of entering a room full of people they don’t know. This module teaches techniques for networking successfully and for getting business through networking. It also addresses the choice of networking event for particular businesses. It teaches delegates how to be more confident with unknown people.
What is the purpose of networking?
Networking can be used for research, finding suppliers, keeping up to date, being sociable, as well as getting business, and more. What outcomes are possible/desirable/achievable?
Types of networking offering
Different types of events: about getting and giving referrals; about building relationships; about being sociable.
Attitude to networking
Consider at an integral part of work, not a time-consuming add on. How to achieve your purpose in networking at a particular event.
Techniques for appearing more confident when networking
Assertiveness. Specific techniques for dialogue and interaction with people you don’t know
The “elevator pitch”: presenting yourself and your business in thirty seconds
Some misconceptions about the elevator pitch busted. Finding a structure that works for you. Writing and practising it.
Presenting your business in ten minutes
Value of stories. What to put in and what to leave out. Relating to the audience. Presentation tips.
One to ones
Purpose and importance of one to one meetings. Structure.
This module recognises that most businesses need to develop pipelines with real, other businesses if they are to make best use of limited resources. This involves being good at networking, advocacy and referral. This module teaches how to develop successful advocacy relationships: business relationships where associates in other businesses deliver leads and prospects to you.
Participants should bring an accessible list of business and other contacts with them.
Different ways of getting clients. The relative importance of different ways for different types of business. Timescales in which different techniques work. The resources (time as well as money) needed for different ways and the value for money they offer.
What are advocacy relationships, and why are they important
Definitions of advocacy, referral, pipeline. Short term solutions v long term strategic ones. Ad-vocacy relationships, while primarily the latter, can deliver in the short term, too. How to do this.
Why giving is at the heart of advocacy. Basic psychology of demands and expectations. Reservations and resistances people have to this. Examination of some networking organisations’ interpretation of this.
Strategy for selecting advocates
Criteria you need to apply when selecting potential advocates: target market, both businesses at same stage of growth cycle, ‘adjacent’ offerings, their enthusiasm for them. Need for reciprocity: you have to advocate your advocate as compelling as you expect them to advocate you.
Structure of the engagement process
Multi-stage engagement process. Why all stages are essential. Why it needs more time than most people allow it. Basic psychology of reservations/resistance. Signs that it isn’t going to work, and how to get the process back on course. Your resistance to asking people to advocate you and how this will undermine the whole process if it isn’t checked.
Briefing the advocate about your business
How to describe you business to your advocate: purpose, outcomes, markets, products/services. How to describe your products/services to your advocate: eg, be specific.
Briefing the advocate in how to advocate your business
The advocate’s tactics. What is in their power to do, and what they can’t be expected to do. How they should introduce you.
Related material: Networking guide
Last updated 141024