No matter what product you’re selling, network marketing is a business driven by people. If you want to grow that network marketing business, then you need to focus on your network.
More specifically, the people within your network. In order to market effectively you have to know how to connect, engage, and communicate with people on different levels from all walks of life. That’s how you’ll uncover the most valuable connections that may become partners, team members, and especially customers.
There’s a laundry list of tools available to help foster communication and engagement, even lead generation, and using all those tools effectively is paramount to success. Manually building a larger network of contacts, while possible, doesn’t allow for scalable growth.
While some of the tools require an investment (one-time, or monthly), there are plenty of tools out there that cost little more than your time. One of those, often overlooked by network marketers, are the marketing groups you can find on various social channels.
The reason those groups exist, and are so successful, is quite simple:
Why Networking is a Universal Constant
There’s an old saying that gets kicked around a lot: “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That speaks to the very nature of networking and network marketing. At the end of the day people want to do business with people they like and trust.
If you haven’t established a relationship with them then you’ll be hard pressed to sell them as a customer, or in joining your team. But networking is about more than just “closing.” It’s about laying the foundation for growing relationships and nurturing those give and take relationships.
The goal is to improve trust, share knowledge, gain skills and forge professional connections. In order for network marketing to be a success you have to focus on forming alliances. Keep this in mind and you stand to gain a great deal more from your participation in network marketing groups.
When you view networking as the bond and connection between people, especially on professional levels, you understand why it’s a universal constant.
How to Find Networking Groups
Networking groups in any form are designed to bring people together. By the very nature of communication any group where people gather is a form of networking group. Things change only slightly when you’re talking about network marketing groups.
While there are countless groups to choose from, they can be sorted into one of two categories.
The first category is made up of larger incumbent networking groups. These tend to be major groups that operate on a national and/or global level. They often have the largest and most active member communities with substantial benefits to joining.
The second category are smaller and more intimate networking groups. These groups tend to be isolated to a specific region, county, or city (think Chamber of Commerce) and have a much smeller member roster, though that doesn’t necessarily diminish the potential benefit.
What Drives Major Networking Groups
Small networking groups can be highly beneficial for local business owners, which can beg the question: “Why bother joining the larger group when the smaller, simpler group can be just as effective?”
The answer is in the leads
Every business owner wants to generate new business or acquire new customers in the most cost-effective manner possible. Networking groups help alleviate some marketing and acquisition costs because members will refer their friends, family, clients, and others they meet to members who offer a product or service the individual is looking for (or could benefit from).
This process of lead generation, or referrals, is the foundation for most networking groups. Mind you, there are countless other ways to generate leads without dealing with a networking group, but those methods can be hit or miss. Networking groups, on the other hand, can be far more effective because the members you forge relationships with will go to bat for you. They don’t generate cold leads – they have talked you up already and provided you with a warm (or hot) referral that’s far more likely to do business with you.
Other Benefits of Major Networking Groups
It’s important to note that a fair number of networking groups require some kind of sponsorship into the group (you must be invited by a current member), a fee to register as a member and pay regular dues, or both.
Even with added costs and a carefully documented joining process that can sometimes be time consuming, networking groups still provide a consistent and substantial return on your investment.
Here are some of the primary benefits
Improved reach and exposure– You’ll get access to a much larger audience almost instantly. Each group member is a business owner, and thereby they have an audience that likely overlaps with other business types operating in the group.
Warmer leads – The other members in networking groups aren’t just handing you the contact information for their customer base. Those cold leads would be a tough sell. Instead, major networking group members personally speak one-on-one with their customers. When an opportunity presents itself to steer the customer, then members make personal recommendations and referrals for products and services provided by other members. This warms the lead up and makes them more likely to buy from the recommended member, especially if that other member has taken the time to develop a deep rapport with their customers.
New skills – There’s nothing like learning new, helpful information and skills from other professionals in a networking group. Think about how beneficial it could be to learn better organization from an office manager, or shipping and logistics information from a major global parts supplier.
How to Make Networking Groups Work For You
Because a lot of networking groups, both major and minor, require paid participation you should seek to get the largest return. Here are some key things to remember in order get more from your group membership:
Learn the rules of the group and the requirements for maintaining membership
Identify the resources available to you and learn how to use them all; ask questions so you really understand the tools and resources available to you
Research the group ahead of time and make sure its goal, vision, policies, activities, and especially its members fit your current business model and your goals
Give more than you take. Other members will notice if you’re one sided and take without making any effort to give back to those people. Give plenty and the referrals will flow your way
Starting Your Own Networking Group
If you can’t find the right group for your business or your particular network marketing needs, the other option is to start a group. These smaller “indie” groups make up the rest of the population and are typically created to fill a specific purpose or cater to a more intimate group of select business owners.
It’s possible to start your own group if you feel the major networking groups aren’t cutting it. Keep these points in mind if you consider launching you own networking group.
Like any new community growth can take time, and it can happen slowly
Focus on providing value. Give people a reason to join and stay invested/engaged
Promote your group regularly to drive traffic toward your members
Develop rules and guidelines so new members know the terms of membership, how to join, what to expect, the structure of the group, etc.
The success of any network marketing group hinges on the relationships developed between people. While it may seem like a substantial amount of work, the benefits of a well-structured group (large or small) are numerous. If you take the time to research your audience and focus on the people, you’ll find it becomes incredibly easy to grow your business with a far lower acquisition cost.