The true secret to success

Or who would you like to meet to grow your business?

Bettina networking at the Xtraordinary Women meeting in Somerset WestAt one of the recent networking events I attended, instead of introducing myself, I asked this question: “Who would you like to meet next in order to grow your business? Who could help you move ahead the most?”

I invited everyone to write on the back of their business card who they wanted to meet and why and said I’d try my best to connect them. I love experiments and I was eager to see what opportunities would unfold. But, before you read on, ask yourself the same question: “Who would you like to meet next in order to grow your business? Who could help you move ahead the most?” (I look forward to hearing your answer!).

To me, one of the biggest (if not The Biggest) factor in becoming successful in business is networking. (Click to tweet)

You succeed when you come across opportunities you can take advantage of and you get to these opportunities by knowing people. Just the other day I was introduced to someone who knew someone who needed the service I offer and a big opportunity landed in my lap.

Please note: it landed in my lap. It wasn’t my sheer willpower, determination, perseverance, on-going re-invention, goal setting or […. fill in any one of the taught success principles …] – I just happened to be at the right place in the right time talking to the right people, aka networking. Many successful people keep saying “I was just lucky.” or “I had a lucky break.”.

Luck favours those with opportunity and opportunity is passed on from one person to the next.

Behind my biggest failure lies a missing network

My biggest failure to this date was a business venture gone wrong. For years I’ve been struggling to come to terms with it, on an emotional and financial level. I’ve been analysing it over and over again to find out where exactly I went wrong or what I should have done differently in order to not repeat the mistake. And while a big fat failure like that one, doesn’t just have one single event that leads to its demise, I’ve come to realise the biggest issue why it just wouldn’t take off was: I didn’t have a network.

When I bought this American franchise – which in and of itself was brilliant; the teachings, the methodology (most of which I still use to this day), neither I nor the franchisors realised the one big disadvantage I had: I didn’t have a (current) business network. I was a brilliant networker and I had made a lot of money before with network marketing but at that point in time, when I decided to buy the franchise, I was a single mom in a relatively new town, far away from friends and family.

I had 91 contacts in my address book, of which half were overseas and the other half belonged to the local drama club (and wasn’t interested in business). A great way to start a business that relies on knowing people and seizing opportunities, yes? NO.

When you consider that and combine it with a global economic crisis at the time, I was suddenly trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place and had no way to claw my way out. It was a vicious and unforgiving circle. I was out to build my network, while at the same time, I had to make the big sales or else. I couldn’t do one without the other because those big sales only happen with the right network in place (and even then it’s a time consuming activity). Like I said, it was a vicious circle, that together with some other contributing factors, left me severely out of pocket, deep in debt and shattered on an emotional level.

Your network is the audience you build trust with

The secret to success is a good networkAsk me today how many contacts are listed like secret weapons in my address book? Some 2,500 people. I can say now that I have achieved a moderate measure of success (which is infinitely better than failing!) because of that. I look back and I realise that my strong network makes all the difference. Today I have a community and an audience around me who value what I say and with whom I have built a level of trust which I am on guard to keep. My audience knows when I recommend something it’s because I know for sure it’s a good thing.

As a result, opportunities come my way. And because of those opportunities my experience grows, with growing experience my rates grow in increments and so the success spiral moves upwards. The larger my network becomes, the more successful I become, which is why I love networking and meeting new people.

Networking is the true secret to success.

And which is why I asked that question at one of the last networking meetings. However, the answers were a bit disappointing and I realise, we don’t all quite understand the power of networking yet.

Networking doesn’t mean meeting people to whom you can sell (Click to tweet)

4 out of 5 people asked to be connected to someone who’d buy their product, in essence, turning me into their sales rep. I have only had business dealings with one of them, none of the others. How was I supposed to recommend them blind to someone in my network who trusts me? And why would they think this would help them grow their business?

These are the kind of questions I like pondering. I love finding out why people do what they do. And I think the big misunderstanding is thinking that finding the next client is going to grow your business. There is a difference between growing your business and just keeping it alive and afloat. Without clients you have no business. That is the base line and there is no way around it. It’s also the reason why every business owner has to learn how to market and sell.

No sales = no business. (Click to tweet)

How much better would it have been if these people had realised that in order to find their next client, they need to learn to network, market and sell? And, perhaps because I am specially connected in this field, they could have asked to be connected to someone who could help them with that?

Digging deep to find the real need in order to grow the business

Or perhaps some of them realise they haven’t got the best systems in place and the admin involved is too time consuming? They could have asked to be connected to a specialist in that field to iron out that particular issue. But maybe it’s because, in the thick of the day-to-day activities, we actually don’t stop and think for longer than a moment what we really need to do next in order to grow our business.

Of course, in the setting we were in, they also didn’t have time to think too hard about it. So naturally, the first reaction to the question what would help you most was “another sale”. It’s understandable. But today I want to invite you to go beyond that. Decide that getting the next sale is a non-negotiable. Your job is to put the right systems in place to make that happen. If that’s the area you struggle with most, you need to learn to sell. If you’re stagnating because you are constantly caught up in processing all the work you get in, you need someone to sort that out for you. If you need to expand your team, you need help from a specialist there. The list continues.

What do you really need next to grow your business and who can help you achieve that growth?

If you’re unsure about what your next move should be I highly recommend a session (one at the very least) with someone like Carol Gerber, who specialises in small business coaching. She will help you identify and get past the stumbling blocks and hurdles that are holding you back.

I can recommend Carol – why? Because I have sessions with her myself and I know how much she has assisted me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of the coaches and mentors I surround myself with. Who’s on your team? Who’s missing? Let me know, perhaps I know someone who will be the ideal connection for you.