Date posted: November 30, 2016

You’re the ingredient in Network Soup

BUSINESS today hasn’t changed much from business 30 years ago.

Sure technology makes it much more efficient, but the fundamentals remain – people know your brand and you know your product. Put another way, for people to do business with you, that need to know, like and trust you.

Marketing channels have been through significant fragmentation over the last 10 years with social media giving people the ability to receive messages based on their interests.

To quote Stephen Scheeler the Managing Director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand (at American Chamber of Commerce September 2016): “We don’t have just one application, we have 1.7 billion”.

To illustrate the point, he asked the audience to start Facebook on their phones and pass it to the person beside them. It sure became a talking point when most people in the room, felt like they were exposed in public.

And with the fragmentation of messaging so too have been the development of networks. You name it, there’s a network for everything. Websites such as Meetup support networks that cater to a variety of broad and eclectic interests.

Being in a network has become more than just a place to pick up new work.  These interest groups build collective followings of people sharing other common goals such as technical know-how, business education and playing golf.

By not being part of these networks, you miss out in more way than one. The social aspect is vital. Yes, you are there for a purpose, however if no one can relate to you, your self-interest can be detrimental.

Through our membership of over 40 networks, we have found relationship building a passion and the core to our own service proposition.

But without being part of the ‘club’, it’s near impossible to land great outcomes. It may be time consuming, especially as you may need to focus on servicing your clients, but without you, the networks can’t survive and you don’t set yourself up for your own future needs.

Business education and self-development are areas we’ve found many business owners and senior management lack strong skills. There are very few true leaders and those in business from the smallest operation to the largest fail to address areas where they under perform.

Interestingly we’ve found these limitations in the market place, when business owners are seeking new business through ineffective networking.

Sure you need to keep a pipeline of sales activity going, but by not addressing your ability to land larger work through lack of confidence is a hidden problem in many businesses.

Our clients have grown to include networking bodies seeking new members. And through our mission, to add value at every introduction, we can see the missing ingredient is sometimes you!

The opportunity to develop new skills, new business and new friendships may take a few tries, but relationship building goes hand in hand with your own personal brand.

We recently entered the South Sydney market and to build a relationship, we didn’t try to sell a single thing. Instead we developed a number of ways we engaged.

  1. Joined the South Sydney Chamber.
  2. Filmed interviews with local businesses.
  3. Commercially engaged with local suppliers.
  4. Sponsored a South Sydney Business Roundtable discussion.
  5. Presented at a South Sydney Chamber event.
  6. Sponsored a Family Business Australia event.

In all initiatives above we either reinforced our presence in a network, or created a network (e.g. our South Sydney suppliers). In doing so, our brand strength, reputation and confidence in the region increased. This has now started to develop into a pipeline of new business.

Self-development and brand reach hasn’t just touched small business, but also the Enterprise customers have caught on to their failings.

The Australian banks have received their fair share of reputational damage with scandals, greed, and recently cross/up selling. In ending this commentary, it’s worth referencing what Brian Hartzer, the Westpac CEO now says about business.

“It is impossible to convince someone of the value you’re adding if they don’t trust you” (at Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce September 2016).

The focus for the bank seems to be the branches will seek to address customer needs rather than which products they recommend. In short, Westpac has realised they have treated customers as sales targets, rather than having a closer relationship with them.

In effect they’re trying to create their own network. As crazy as it may have once sounded, and against the bank’s claims that branches will get smaller, maybe we should all get ready for coffee mornings, business networking and educational seminars at the local bank branch in the near future.

This article has been provided by Know My Business and the advice is designed to be general in nature. Know My Business helps businesses fast track their business development and sales efforts by introducing them to their targeted clientele.