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Networking for Beginners

By William "Wild Bill" Montgomery
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2004

Into every life some rain must fall and accordingly into every successful business arena some networking must occur. I can hear some of you out there already saying, "My business is doing great and I don't Network"!

Whether you realize it or not, you probably network almost every day of your life to one extent or the other. It could be handing out your business card, mentioning your company or web site, or just talking about your work in passing to friends or associates.

Some of us are a bit more proactive about networking and I'm sure every owner has his or her own plan and procedures that they follow. This is good. Consistency in almost everything is admirable, but in networking it is crucial.

For those of you breaking into business and still trying to get a hold on everything, here are a few steps to think about and maybe, just maybe help you down the "networking road of life".

Make a List.

This list should be of every person who would have a good opinion of your product or service. Include anyone you have ever done business with that could be "potential customers". Friends, your family's friends, groups, organizations and yes even your relatives. This is what you would call your "A" List.

Now, you will also want to recruit new potential clients to your network. There are many ways to gather new potential clients depending on many circumstances, such as your business, budget, media availability, time investment and so much more. You will always need to be creative and hardworking when it comes to getting new names in your network list. This first-timer's list will be your "B" list.

What to Send?

You must then decide what information you want to give them and what you want from them. Be sure that you give them some information about your company (background), the product (how it will benefit them), the promotion or offer (main reason for your contact) and don't forget the most important; let them know what to do to repsond to your contact.

Qualified Prospects:

A "qualified prospect" has already opened the door for probable sales. This prospect "SHOULD NOT" be included in your normal network (A & B Lists). You can afford to; and I might add, they deserve to be contacted in a more personal manner.

How Ya Doin?

Don't waste your time, money and network resources sending out messages to your network, saying nothing more than the basic, "We're Here, We're Open, We in Business, Here's our Number". Save your network contacts for special events. Special Offers, Workshops, Discount Coupons, Etc.

Be Personal....PLEASE!

This is what networking is all about and your contact with your network should be as personal as possible.

For those of us on the Internet juggling large mailing lists it is often hard to be personal with what you would call your network. To start with you should use a personalized email program ( to call your contacts (or subscribers) by name. This is better than "Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom it Concerns".

For good network contacts such as your qualified prospects you might want to consider a phone call. A follow up letter never hurts. That always gives you a chance to include a brochure and/or announcements.

Just what is the Biggest Secret to Networking?

You want to know the biggest secret to Networking and the hardest part as well? Doing it! Do yourself a favor, set goals for yourself. Say to yourself, I will contact this many people this month. Keep at it until you reach your goal. The hardest part of networking just getting out there and doing it.

One Last Tip...

Being on the Internet and using email this is no easy task for cold calls either. With such words as Bulk Mail, Flaming and Spam you need to step (or "key") softly.

My suggestion to writing "cold calls" is rather than send them any advertising, take some time, use their name (including the subject heading), and invite them to visit your site for a free offer or to use a free service. Don't try to sell then anything and remember to eliminate any signature file lines you may have attached.

As with any unsolicited email always comes a risk and a warning. No matter how clean (of advertising) it is it can still be considered spam, but goodness knows then just about any email today could be.

Align your messages with your targets. Don't send your message out to just anyone, and never, ever send advertising. Make your invite and leave it at that. If they visit you and like your services they'll let you know. In my judgment, anything else is far above the risk it is worth.

This can be a "nifty networking tool" if used responsibly, moderately and properly. Be sincere, be personable and don't sell!

William "Wild Bill" Montgomery President,

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