First, start with your Goals. If you look at any successful person, they all have written goal. These goals are smart goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and the top people create them and review daily. They assess their effectiveness every 4 months to see how they are doing. As a BNI Director I always emphasize goal setting in the early months of the years. There is a old saying that goes something like this, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you will never know how to get there”. In order to know if you are successful at any endeavor you have to create a measuring stick. Goals are that measuring stick. Make sure you’re goals are visible and with you at all times. A good idea is to make a dream book or goal board that stay in front of you most of the time. You must review your goals daily. If you don’t they are not active goals.
The second thing you need are strategic partners. The first question this should invoke is,” Who are your current referral and business partners”. As a BNI member and Director I have learned the value of contact spheres. These are other businesses that sell or service the same customers as you but do not compete directly with your business. Making these people you’re referral partners (i.e. earning their trust and building a mutually beneficial business relationship with them) is a powerful way to multiply your efforts with out multiplying you’re W2 numbers at the end of the year. If you in a BNI chapter make a list of who is in you’re contact sphere. Also make a list of all the categories that are missing from your networking chapter. (Hint if you are a BNI member your MSP work book has a list in it). Once you know who you have on your list, it’s time to start earning their trust so that referrals just happen. You need to start recruiting people to fill the gaps in the open categories that can help you. The minimal number of strategic partners is about 5 or 6. The ideal number is a dozen or more. If you have a dozen strategic referral partners you will be able to give lots of referral and get just as many in return. Get a dozen make earn a bundle.
Third you need Accountability. Get a Coach, or at least a buddy that is not afraid to tell you the truth and is not afraid of damaging you’re relationship with them. No matter what, you need to have someone hold your feet to the fire with regards to doing the specific behaviors needed and working towards achieving your goals. A long time ago I found out how lonely it can be at the top of your organization. It’s often hard to confide in your employees or other if you are the CEO of you’re company. Some aspect of your business can not be easily shared. This is why a 3rd party unbiased neutral professional is best way to go. Most small business feel that it’s either too expensive to hire a coach or that most coach’s really don’t do much for the money they charge. Well the reality is you have to shop for a good coach. And if they can show you a way to increase your business through their coaching, where it more than pays for their fees, do it. If you still thinks its too expensive then you need to look around to see what’s free. If you are a BNI member you’re blessed. BNI offer free and almost free training that is top notch. Also you have mentors, Ambassador and Director who coach member individually. BNI also offer a huge amount of education and support material for its members. Dr. Ivan Miser, the founder of BNI even offers a website and teleseminar that offers answers for your business networking questions, for free. Check out www.askivanmisner.com In my opinion free help is not as good as paying a profession coach or joining a peer group, but it’s a start and if your in BNI you have a leg up.
Forth, look at what resources you have available. What I mean by resources are educational materials like books tapes, CD’s MP3’s video, DVD’s etc that can help you stay on track. You can even find some of these items in the public library. If you want to be the best at any thing you must immerse yourself in that subject matter. The longer you stay immersed the more focused you become. The more focused you become, the more things “just seem to go your way”. It is important to note here that this immersion and focus must be positive in nature. If you are focused on negative thing those things are just as likely to happen. The TV, Radio, and regular new sources are normally a big source of negative distraction. Feed your fire with positive knowledge and maintain your focus by immersing your mind on what, when, where, how and why of your industry and you will achieve your goals. Often time the educational material you’re immersed in keeps you on track and after a while it becomes your normal way of life. Do it daily to fight of any negativity you may be in contact with.
Fifth, use you’re Calendar to lay out your plan. Take the time to break your calendar into what I call campaigns. What I mean here is that part of your goal has to have some specific focus. If you attend a weekly networking meeting, try to deliver a focused and consistent message for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. This focus need to be in alignment with your goals! Your focused campaigns can be based on holidays, annual events, political events, seasonal events, periodic events or even events dictated by your company or a combination of all of these. I own a health and wellness consulting business and often take advantage of thing like cancer awareness month, Heart disease month etc…during those months my focused message is how my products or service can help individuals with those issues. One last thing about your calendar;. Try and plan out your year in advance. This includes any events you have to attend including family events. Put down vacations, family outings, and regular logistical issue like taking the kids to schools, dentist, and doctor office. Also add annual events like luncheons, conventions, and holiday parties. Anything that you normal schedule put it on your calendar. If you are a BNI member you need to block out the time slot for your meetings and 1-2-1’ meeting (dance cards). Don’t forget to block out time for calling on customers (active marketing), doing management and or accounting tasks and other regular duties necessary for your business. Don’t forget to block out time for your self and your family and worship. Even with all this programmed in you should still have open space allowing enough flexibility to add and move thing when change arise. You’re plan does not have to be ridged. Create a priority scale like the Steven Covey teaches. If conflicts arise do the items with the highest priority.
Last and just as import as the first 5 are filling in the details and making it happen. Once you created your goals, chosen your specific direction and decide on the themes for each month (or period), you need to sit down and break each week into individual behaviors that you will be performing. You will need a focused sales manager minute, list of prospects, list of appointment etc... for each and every week. For me, this means what message am I delivering that week, what meetings am I attending and who do I plan on calling. As I stated earlier, my themes last 4 to 6 weeks so for that period of time I am focus on the same general subject. However, I usually change up my message just enough to keep my strategic referral partner interested and listing. The message I am deliver could be my sale manager minute, an elevator speech or a 10 minute presentation or a 45 minute webinar. What matters most is I stick to the theme, either way my message stays on the same subject with a different story every week. A few last very important, points. All that I have stated still requires that you earn a persons trust. That you take the time to build strong and giving relations with your strategic partners I heard Dr. Misner once say that Networking is like farming , you have to put in a lot of work up front to reap the rewards at harvest time.
These 6 items do not necessarily constitute “the be all to end all” of marketing plans However it’s a great start. And although it is not an exhaustive list, it does provide needed help, especially if you have decided to build you’re own strategic plan. It been my experience that is if you do the six action items listed above and hold yourself accountable, you will get more referral, make more money and you will grow your business.
If you have specific questions regarding this subject drop me a line at Hecisneros@gmail.com and I will write back an answer your question.