Professional Networking Groups – How to Find, Recruit and Retain Quality Members For Referral Groups by Beth Bridges
Are you the organizer of a professional networking group? New members are important, especially if you want to keep the energy up and the business leads coming. Here are some tested strategies for making sure that you are finding people, recruiting them and getting them to stay involved in your leads club.
Find Them at Networking Events
People who are “good” networkers understand that it takes time to build relationships to the point where business can be done. Look for people at events who seem to be more interested in the other person. Their focus will be how they can help the other person and not how they can immediately qualify them as a prospect or sell them on the spot. These people will already have a philosophy that will contribute to their success in the referral group. It takes time, patience and a giving attitude to be successful in a leads club.
Find them by Referral
Your existing members who are enjoying their result are your best source of referrals for new members. They are probably either well connected or excellent at asking questions (that’s how they bring in many of their leads). They’ll be eager to show off their success with the group. Dedicate a part of each meeting to training your existing members how to find potential new members. Use good referral group language: “A good lead for this group is…” You may have specific categories that you want to fill. Or you might tell you members that a good lead for the group is someone who is a patient and giving networker who is looking to take their business to the next level. Make it a countable lead to bring appropriate (meaning their category is open) guests to the group. Recognize and reward your top referring members and encourage everyone in the group to refer.
You may have been part of the group for several years so you’re familiar with how much business gets done behind the scenes, but a first time guest will have no way of knowing. This may be one of the few times the meeting runs late, the leadership is sloppy, or members had a bad week with hardly any leads. But this will be the first and perhaps only impression your guests will have of your group. It is hard to tell someone that “It’s rarely like this” when 100% of their experience is like that. A well-run, consistent meeting with good strong leads passed is one of your best recruiting tools.
If your group is new or small with few leads being passed, emphasize education in the meeting. Show a new guest that you are working on helping each other learn and that you are all actively seeking to improve your lead-giving. It can be good to be on the ground floor as long as the group is actively working on building their foundation.
Explain every role, every agenda item and every step…every time. Your potential new member will understand the purpose, format and activities much better than if they were given a written sheet to read and follow. Plus it’s good for your existing members to be reminded and refreshed on the rules and agenda.
Make sure that someone is responsible for talking with the potential new member after the meeting. If they feel it is a good fit, don’t let them leave without a strong “close.” Ask them if they liked what they experienced. Would they like to be part of it? Then tell them what it takes to become a member.
Members will stay as long as they are getting “enough” business. Everyone is going to have a different amount of business which will be satisfactory to them.This can be tricky if people have unrealistic expectations. At the bare minimum, they need to be making back their monetary investment for dues, travel and meals. They also should make enough to pay for their time. If they could spend that same amount of time doing something else that makes them more money, then they should be doing that.
Of course, if everything we did in business was logically and thoughtfully based on the highest return on investment of the time, then no one would ever watch YouTube at work. Logic doesn’t always rule; emotion and feelings do. If your members FEEL connected to the group and if they get some of their emotional or social needs met by the group, they will be more likely to stay, even if they’re not making a great deal of money.
It’s up to you as the leader of the referral group to not only encourage and train members to find and refer business to each other, but also to make sure that members are engaged with the group.
Are you making one of these five networking mistakes that even experienced sales and business people make? Visit Beth’s business networking site to find out (without cost or obligation) if you are.
Looking for more networking tips, tricks, strategies & advice? Visit Beth’s Networking Motivator Blog
Beth is The Networking Motivator ™. She has helped thousands of people network more, network better, and improve their business relationships. As Membership Director of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, she has attended over 20 networking events a month for the last 7 years. She has networked with thousands of people, encouraging and motivating themselves to get out there and network.
Copyrighted 2010, Beth Bridges Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Beth_Bridges
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