With a super blue blood moon bright in the sky, our February Bournemouth meeting got off to an auspicious start!  The Hallmark was packed with networkers keen to make the most of the opportunity to be understood by like-minded business professionals.

Jay Rachet kept a tight ship – meaning we were able to enjoy four presentations with two minutes to spare!  Today’s treats were delivered by Mark Blunden, Neil Humphrey, Rachel McNamara, and me – Lex McKee.  Let’s review the topics shall we?

Mark, from the Augmentas group, shared his enviable success record with tender writing – 9 out of 10 bids!  He also shared the fact that we can outsource even our sales to Augmentas – causing many of us to sit up and pay close attention.  After all, how many of us see ourselves as natural sales people?  Just imagine the power and potential of a sales pipeline that you and I didn’t have to fill ourselves?

More than this, Mark featured the shift in selling from days of bribery buying bids to a tender-focused process that seeks to preclude these issues of low-integrity.  The challenge, of course, is that tendering doesn’t allow us to build the ‘know-like-and-trust’ process that networking facilitates.  For this reason, it is essential that we work with someone who knows how to use the right language to get to ‘Yes!’  Like Morecambe and Wise, it’s about getting all our right notes… in the right order!

For those of us who are still a trifle timid about selling, Mark is running free workshops – a must, methinks!

Neil Humphrey walked us through a set of characters what we’re likely to encounter in any networking event.  Five were ones to avoid – or at least manage – and four were the type of people we need to surround ourselves with at TBN.  I’ve personalised Neil’s avatars further with some names!

First, the fearsome five to avoid!  We’ve got Tina TAKER – the networker who is always trying to get something for nothing.  Then there’s Ed, the EGOtist, the one-upmanship bore who always has a better life than we have.  For example, if you’ve just had a holiday in Bermuda, Ed won’t hesitate to boast that he’s got a place there… no, make that two!

Tracy TALKER is the next on the list of those to steer clear of.  She’s got the super ability to fill every available gap in the conversation with her own opinions!  The one thing you can be sure she won’t do… is listen to you!

Final fiends are Melvyn the MOOD HOOVER and Wendy the WANNABE.  Melvyn is happiest when he’s missed the bus – with his super power of sucking out any energy you thought you had at 7am.  Wendy means well, but achieves zilch, and is an energy vampyr in her own wistful way.

So, what can we do?  Neil was keen to remind us that these nutty networkers are more than their behaviour.  There’s hope for them!  What we need to do is possibly make some changes so that we mix with more of the right kind of people, but also continue to engage with these downbeat types differently by setting some boundaries.

The good news is that Neil highlighted four friends to focus on.  These were what I’ve affectionately called ‘Chelsea CHAMPION’ – the one that builds you up – ‘Chuck CHALLENGER’ – the coaching type that takes you out of your comfort zone – ‘Maurice the MENTOR’ – who understands your challenges and gives you the nudge you need – and ‘The LISTENERS’ – those networkers who actually listen and respond to what you’re really saying.  You’ll recognise them: they’ve got two ears and one mouth, and they use them in that ratio.  Great insights!

Fancy sailing on the Solent for a song?  That’s what Rachel McNamara offered us with ‘Sailing for Success’ from Anarchy Sailing.  In the Winter season (Oct-Apr), you and seven other buddies can go sailing on the Solent for a group price of £450.  Bargain!  Life’s a riot… so let’s have some fun!  Business meeting on a boat anybody?  That’s the sort of opportunity I’d go overboard for!

Finally, I offered some comfort for those of us who have ever felt intimidated by trying to think of what to say when put on the spot.  Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone (though the skills can be learned.)  For many of us, the thought of our one-minute pitch, or of speaking to the combined group at TBN, fills us with something other than excitement!

Structure is a key way to support ourselves through the process.  With this in mind, I used my camera as a prop.  The camera is a device focused on capturing images.  You and I are characters focused on capturing the imagination of our audience.  Like a camera, it is good for us to have one focus at a time.  Who do you have in mind when you come to our meetings?  What’s your outcome?

My camera was supported by a tripod – three legs giving stability to the one focus.  I shared that a good structure was thus to have one focus with three clear supports.  However, the difference that makes the difference is to make sure you always press the shutter – to take action to fulfil the purpose of your original focus.  Capture those leads… and follow up!

All this was supported by Jacqui Frampton’s ongoing success at attracting new people to our highly-valued meetings, and making sure the meetings flow effectively.  Success isn’t an accident – it takes preparation to deliver excellence consistently – something Jacqui has a proven track-record at.  With this in success in mind, we’d also like to thank our table ambassadors for managing the one-minute pitches so skillfully, and thank you for giving TBN your best shot.

The next TBN Bournemouth returns to the Hallmark on March 1st.  You know you’ll be welcome.

 

Lex McKee – Entertrainer