Many sales professionals and business owners focus their strategy primarily on "get more referrals". Instead, Master Networkers develop their network and focus on influence within the business community. To become a master networker, there is an emphasis on developing strong links inside the business community and leadership Triads. To generate sales In this strategy, the vision is to become the trusted advisor or business community influencer.
Trusted Advisor – This is a long term, win/win relationship between a business leader and business advisor. This may or may not be a formal relationship.
Community Influencer – This involves community projects that promote individuals or organizations as community influencers.
There is an assumption that Master Networkers have already developed a strong referral network. What they are actually looking for are collaborators for interesting projects, who can give good advice, who can put them in opportunities to expand their influence.
One such opportunity a Master Networker looks forward to is creating an advisory board.
Forming an advisory board - step by step.
All companies need an advisory board. The experts recommend look for business professionals who have real world experience to overcome barriers and take advantage of market opportunities. The CEO of a new company may not fully realize the need for sound advice. As an organization grows and proves successful, make yourself available to share advice. This will accelerate your trusted advisor role.
Here is a process for developing an advisory board:
- Identify business owners you like who are in the early stages of building their business.
- Reach out to the owner for a meeting.
- During the meeting, learn about what he/she is doing
- Identify his/her target customer
- Identify a strong referral or set of referrals
- Identify a business problem that is keeping the CEO up at night
- Identify a referral partner who can solve this problem
- After reaching out to the owner, develop relationships the CEO needs to solve marketing and operational problems.
- In later discussions, ask about the CEO’s advisory board.
- Offer to be on the advisory board.
- Offer to introduce other potential advisors.
- Offer to sponsor a presentation featuring the CEO.
- Plan the event.
- Invite your network to the event.
- Register the CEO’s friends that will come to the event.
- Present the CEO to leaders and customers at the event.
There can be a variety of favors offered that will be important to the CEO. At the same time, you will be creating opportunities for those you invite to the events and make introductions to.
Another potential benefit: You will be meeting the CEO’s friends during the events who will most likely be introduced by the CEO. As business grows, the CEO will depend more and more on your advice. In reciprocation you will benefit in many ways as you become a trusted advisor and leader.
Keys to Success
- A strong understanding and commitment to the CEO’s success
- Making the right introductions to the right people to further the CEO's success.
- Create win/win solutions which benefit the CEO and yourself.
Why this works
There is an assumption in American culture called the “Self-Made” Man/Woman. This is a myth. We all need help. Nobody gets ahead without a lot of help. Without help, business owners go through cycles which includes half the time finding work, the other half is spent doing the work. While the work is happening, money is being made. While searching for work, the business is not making money. With enough success, a business owner hires someone to sell or do the work. Until then, business owners are like a rodent running on a hamster wheel. Running faster and faster until collapsing in exhaustion.
By building an advisory board, your network and inner circle of advisors evolves to something more important than referrals. Your network will be the best source for finding and developing trusted relationships.