We’re always told your network is your net worth, but how can you grow your business network? How do leaders and entrepreneurs establish good business relationships? Martin Morris from C-Sky shares tips for making good connections and improving your networking skills.
Martin Morris is one of Australia’s top business mentors and the group chairman of C-Sky. He specialises in brokerage business structures and has over 35 years of experience across a broad variety of markets, including construction and property developments, telecommunications, networking, e-commerce, insurance, financial services, health, training and education.
Automate your workflow and have more time to work on your business. Turn IT into a utility!
Business Networking and Its Benefits
The word network can mean a whole lot of things. It can mean a team of people getting up for breakfast, swapping business cards and developing friendships. It could be more formal like the Lions Club and joining a nonprofit organisation or a community group. There are many ways to meet new people and develop relationships.
Relationships are important in business. Without relationships, you don’t get business.
However, creating a business networking strategy is also important. Not all relationships lead to new business. Martin explains, “I can be friends with somebody. I can have a relationship but not business.”
And sometimes, the circle can be so big that you forget to be around the core people who are going to deliver long-term, sustainable business relationships because you’re growing together as individuals and you’re helping each other achieve success.
How do you network effectively?
All the people we work with would most likely resonate with the other people that we would work with, so start networking with the people that you have to spend most of your time with. Network with your family, network with your employees, network with your clients. Start a client monthly club, get your best clients in, have some fun and ask some questions. Because you’ve got association, it’s a very relaxed, nonprospective type process.
To Grow a Beautiful Tree, You Need to Cull It
Years ago, we happened to focus on the automotive industry. What we didn’t realise is as a category as a whole, it is very price sensitive. The whole market is changing price all the time, and there’s no relationship in price so we’ve transitioned away from automotive businesses. Today, we work more with manufacturing and finance sectors and we can’t say how much happy we are about both.
When you start a business, you take what you get in the beginning and then you get 10 clients and then 20 and you just grow. However, no matter what you do, you’re not going to get full growth out of all of them or be in a relationship growth opportunity. There will come a point where you start getting efficiency of time, cost of products and processing so it’s best to bite the bullet. But don’t just get rid of them. Find another player and offer them the client list.
You choose what clients you want to keep and then define your numbers off that. There will be the 80-20 group where 80% of income comes from 20% of your clients. Think about what you’re doing to help them grow because your income increases as they grow.
Know Your Battles and Where You Want to Be
Martin also shares, “I found that I’ve been happy to be involved in associations where I make a contribution to help that organisation do something out of purpose. I’m far gone from just going to a meet club or having some time together. I’d rather choose to spend time with the people that I’ve already got a relationship with, have built it over the years, and have a defined purpose over that particular deep existing relationship—and that takes time. I’ve had relationships with men and women that I’ve known for over 30 years. I don’t have to be around them regularly, but I could make a phone call tomorrow if I was in trouble, and they would be there to help. If I got a new concept or idea and I want them to get involved, they’re the first year money coming because we’ve got that trust.”
And if you’re going to do some things with a man, meet his family and observe. You can quickly see at dinner table how a man treats and respects his wife. This is important because the way you operate in your home, as a leader, as a man, how you respond, how you handle questions, how your general demeanour is in the household is how you’re going to perform at work.
Enjoy big savings on hardware, software and IT support. Sign up today!
Commitment, Marriage and Instant Gratification
It seemed like the whole world is becoming more and more into instant gratification. People want to listen to a certain song song, they jump on Spotify. If they want to watch that movie, they jump on Netflix or one of the other providers. They want to date, they swipe enough right and end up on a date with someone. However, like a good marriage, a good professional network requires trust and commitment and building that takes time.
Initially, a lot of people will think that you’re only there because you will get something out of it. You’ll have a dating period and then an engagement period, and the wedding before marriage—that could be three years or it could be six years.
Martin says, “I try to develop what I learned in my younger years from being involved in every swap club. I’m going to breakfast and swapping cards, but actually churning down what sort of relationships I want to form.” For example, people in accounting, legal and financial planning, those who work around people’s money and paperwork are people of great value because we could learn from them, build counteract referral relationships, and develop long-term relationships.
Breaking the Barrier
When you say “I can help you,” you go to another person’s barrier so they close up. Most people are suspicious—what’s in it for them? It’s just how we grew up. We don’t like people coming to our space.
It’s like at the airport where no one sits next to each other. There’s always an empty chair between people.
If it’s about relationships, it’s about being relaxed. And when you first meet people, you’ve got maybe 5 to 20 seconds to get that relaxed feeling.
When you come to events and meet someone, don’t even shake the person’s hand. When you put your hand in their space, you’ve just invaded their space. You forced your hand into their space.
It’s different from when you just introduce yourself and they put their hand and shake yours. Here, they’ve come out of their barrier.
When networking, Martin adds you have to come to a point where whatever you’re going to offer is done because they want it from you rather than you want to give it to them. When someone approaches you and wants your help, they’re coming out of their barrier.
Have the peace of mind that your systems are running smoothly while you focus on growing your business.
Permissions and Presentations
Get an agreement before a discussion. Ask the person, “Would you mind if we sat and discussed this? I know your business is important to you, so I’ll run through this as quickly as I can. Is that okay?”
Once you have their permission, you can go on saying, “Before I go through how I believe XYZ company can help your company, I’d just like to show you a little bit about who we are, what we do, what our services, and if you like what you see, I’d love for you to ask me some questions.”
It’s good to ask questions such as, “Do you know what we do?” Most likely, people will say no and when people say no, it opens a parachute in mind to receive information (i.e. what you do). That breaks down the barrier and now you have permission to do a presentation.
A lot of people skip asking for permission and go straight to the presentation. They think that because they’re a salesperson, they have the right to ask questions and the right to present their products. You’ve got to get that right before you even proceed. Otherwise, their minds will be going, “I know you’re here to sell me something.” You’ve got to get them talking about themselves before you even get into about anything else. And you got to be fast and efficient.
Martin Morris is a business strategy scientist, master salesperson, entrepreneur, trainer, educator, coach and an expert in the facilitation of business connections and strategic futures planning. He is the group chairman of C-Sky, one of Australia’s top business mentors and CEO Review’s Financial Services Chairperson of the Year 2021 (Australia).
Harness ancient wisdom in combination with modern business practice and technology! Discover C-Sky.