The Power of 1 to 1s within a Networking Group

Posted by Sam Lyth
on 22nd April 2020

Business networking is all about building business relationships. Over time you build a trustworthy network of business associates who might become clients, suppliers, mentors, collaborators, associates and friends.

No matter how often your networking group meets, the brief time you get to introduce yourself around the table is not sufficient to build these relationships. I have attended various business networking events now for almost 20 years and most of my clients at Red Kite Services have come directly or indirectly from networking events. I have learned that it is a very rare event to turn up at a networking meeting, present your 1-minute pitch, and get business there and then from someone in the room. It has happened to me maybe twice in those 20 years!

Gaining business from networking is a long-term commitment and you may not see real gains until your second year, depending on your business. But one way to speed this up is by having 1 to 1 meetings outside the regular events.

My first experience of business networking was in BNI. At BNI they put so much emphasis on 1 to 1 meetings that when I was a member they were part of the core weekly actions, along with giving referrals, bringing a guest and giving a testimonial. Other networking groups are not quite as pressurised, but most recommend 1 to 1 meetings as the way to make the most of your membership of a group.

Why would I want to meet with you?

The reason you would want to meet with anyone in a networking group is because you want to build your business. Even if you know you would never have a need for a certain business (for example your partner might be in that profession so does the work) it is worth having that meeting. You might not be able to see how you could work with another business or they may even be a competitor. Book the meeting a find out.

Remember, you are not selling your business to the thirty people in the room – you are selling your business to the 50 or so people that the members know – their family, friends, colleagues and clients. So, you need to let the members of the group know what you offer and why they can trust you. And for you to return the business, you need to know exactly what their service is

I have occasionally been asked “why would I want to meet with you” when I have tried to set up a meeting. I have already explained why, but would you pass any business to someone who would have so little regard for your business? Each member of a networking group has paid the same amount of money and should be treated as equals when it comes to your time.

Some Tips for 1 to 1 meetings

  1. Remember that everyone’s time is valuable, so set a time limit (the Zoom free 40 minutes seems to be quite a good way to keep to time.) Don’t be late, distracted by ‘phone calls, texts etc or be rushing off. Treat one another with respect.
  2. This is not a selling opportunity. If you have requested the meeting you should be finding out about the person you have invited along. Certainly at a first meeting it is best for you both to have an equal amount of time to introduce your business.
  3. It does not have to be all about business. You do business with people you like and if you have common-ground you are more likely to build up a trusted relationship. Whether it be children of a similar age, the same sport or loving the same books, it is you that makes you different from your competitors.
  4. Ask how you can help the other person: what would be their ideal client, can you introduce them to another networking group or recommend a training event? Perhaps you could write a guest blog for their website or vice versa.
  5. Let the person know what you are looking for – if you have done a bit of research you might see that they have clients that you would love to speak to. This an opportunity to ask.
  6. Follow up from the meeting. If you have agreed to send over some information or make an introduction, do it as soon as possible.
  7. Thank them for the 1 to 1 at the next networking event, publicly if possible.
  8. Arrange 1 to 1s with each member of the network at least once per year.

A Few Don’ts

  1. Don’t ignore requests for 1 to 1s – you may be really busy or going on holiday, so let the person who has requested a 1 to 1 know a better time to set one up. Ignoring requests gives a bad impression and could lose you business.
  2. Don’t frequently “postpone” the 1 to 1s – again it gives the impression that you and your time is more important than the other persons. I’m afraid after two postponements I won’t try again.
  3. Don’t stop having 1 to 1s just because you are busy – they are a good way of keeping your pipeline going.

It is through 1 to 1s that the strength of a network really builds. As you get to know each member better, you will have a ready sales team, you will have a team of experts you can call upon, you have colleagues available to collaborate on projects with and you end up with a group of friends too. Check out The Business Wellbeing Club networking events!

If you are still not convinced that 1 to 1s can build your business, give me a call!

Sam Lyth

Redkite Services


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