Steps to Networking – Step 58: Network Associates

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010

STEP 58: Network Associates

Steve Krauser runs seven networking groups in New York and New Jersey under the banner of Network Associates. Harvey Krauser operates four Network Associates’ groups in Florida. In the following when we use the name Krauser, we will be referring to Steve Krauser.

Each group Network Associates’ group has an average of 20 to 25 members, men and women, who pay an annual $2,000 fee. Each group meets once a month. They meet a regularly scheduled day, such as the first Tuesday of the month, and at a set time like 8 to 10 A.M. Meetings are held at a conference hall and members sit around circular tables. Krauser presides from the front of the room.

In addition to running meetings, Krauser also calls members randomly to talk or set up times when he can visit them at their places of business. He likes to see their operation and discuss the state of their business. “This is a member-directed organization,” Krauser points out. “Their input and feedback is very important to me.” He sees his job as making sure that the flame is always burning and he always tries to be up beat and positive with members.

Except for one group, which is specific to the media and entertainment industry, each Network Associates’ group is separate and noncompetitive. No two people from the same industry classification who theoretically compete can be members of a Network Associates’ group. “A free exchange of information and ideas is powerful. And how can you have a free exchange of information and ideas if a competitor is sitting in the room with you?” Krauser asks.

In a group, the career fields represented might include a stock broker, computer consultant, real estate and personal injury attorney, mortgage banker, telephone system consultant, video teleconferencing expert, water purification system expert, property and casualty insurance broker, life and health insurance broker, graphic designer, accountant, etc. Members join Network Associates as businesses, which enables more than one member of a business to attend meetings.

Guests

To insure a good mix, Krauser regularly asks members to identify businesses that are not represented in the group and whether representatives of those industries should be invited to meetings as guests? If the group members want more information about that industry, Krauser ask them to “identify people they know, feel comfortable with and who understand the concept of relationship-driven sales, as opposed to transactional sales. When there are certain industry classifications that are in the chain of referral that need to be filled, we call upon the members to help us fill those gaps,” Krauser explained. Occasionally, a guest will host a meeting at his or her place of business.

Early each year, Krauser posts the schedule of meetings for the year. Prior to each meeting, he sends out memos reminding members about the meeting and informing them about the program so that they can prepare. “You can’t walk into any meeting today and wing it. You have to be prepared! And, that holds true with networking meetings,” Krauser stressed.

Krauser also finds out if members are planning to bring a guest to the next meeting. If so, he asks the member to send him information about the invitee. Then he will send the guest a formal invitation listing all pertinent information such as the meeting date, time and place.

Guests must be invited to meetings. Unlike other networking groups, guests are not welcome to show up uninvited. “This is a very exclusive business development club. You must be invited,” Krauser said. “Guests are invited only if it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. They must get something out of it, but they must also give something back to the membership. Otherwise, the chain of opportunity breaks down.”

To join a Network Associates’ group, candidates must first attend two meetings as guests. Krauser and the Business Advisory Council, which consists of Krauser and select members, must approve new members. The size of the Business Advisory Councils vary from group to group, but members must have been in the group for a while, understand the process and have a vested interest in the organization’s growth and development.

New members are selected on the basis of what they bring to the table. For instance, are they a compatible business, can they make contributions that would benefit other group members, do candidate have good personalities and will they be positive additions? Any one member can veto a candidate for membership in the group. If members miss too many meetings, they will be dropped from the group because absentees do not contribute sufficient value to the remaining members.

It’s essential that group members understand what other members do because if they don’t, they can’t make good referrals. To insure such understanding, each member is required to make a one-to-one visit to another member’s place of business. Visits usually consist of tours, questions and answers.

During one-to-one visits, the visiting members must give hosts sufficient time to explain what they do, what differentiates them from others in their industry and what is their style or approach with clients. Visiting members much receive sufficient information for them identify opportunities for host and to know where they can implant the host in their contact base. Some members accomplish this in one visit, while others need multiple visits.

One-to-one visits also help members identify problems that their existing clients may be having. Then they can draw from the expertise of the group to solve those problems, which is “networking at the highest level,” according to Krauser. “That’s our goal.”

Once a year, all seven of the Network Associates groups will assemble at a larger venue. Krauser calls this the Network of Networks. Occasionally, he will hold other off site events such as golf outings.

Rules and referrals

Network Associates does not allow members to solicit each other’s business and doing so is grounds for automatic expulsion. However, members can approach each other for help or to use each other’s services. For example, a mortgage broker can’t solicit another other member’s business, but the broker can hire the telephone consultant to design a phone system for his/her office.

The group does not permit remuneration between members. So, if you close a deal after receiving a lead from a group member, you can’t give them money or even a gift. The only return should be thanks and referrals. Business between members is inevitable; people do business with those they know, like and trust. All members are entitled to make a profit and can, but are not required to, give other members discounts (but they can if they wish).

Two types of leads are generated in the group: primary and secondary leads or referrals. A primary lead occurs when a group member has a contact and passes it on to another member. For example, when one group member tells another, “Call ABC Industries because they need a new health insurance policy. Speak with Jack Jones and say I told you to call.”

A secondary referral is when a member has not been able to hook up with anyone at ABC Industries’ or does not have a tight relationship with ABC. At the meeting, that member might ask, “Does anyone have any contacts that could help me at ABC Industries?” Some members may have contacts while others may know someone, say an accountant, who worked with ABC Industries. The member will then give the other member the accountant’s name and number, the member will call the accountant and the accountant provides a referral into ABC.

Network Associates’ members never count leads; they are not required to give other members a set number of leads. When leads are given, all involved can benefit. If Member A asks Member B to help solve a client’s problem, Member A is showing his/her client that he/she is more than his/her core business. And, Member B benefits by receiving a new opportunity.

The group also serves as a resource for its members. When a member, Larry Turell, a life and health insurance whiz, was thinking of refinancing his home so he asked the advice of a mortgage banker who was member of the group. The banker volunteered to talk with Larry, at no charge, and taught Larry the questions to when seeking a mortgage. As a result of the group member’s help, Larry was able to get a terrific deal and avoid a lot of the aggravation usually entailed in refinancing.

The meetings

Network Associates has formal business meetings, which Krauser leads. Between 8 to 8:25 is an informal mixer session, at which members say hello and chat. Coffee and pastries are served. Krauser distributes an agenda and a roster containing the names and contact information of the group members and guests. So, if you’re a guest, you don’t have to constantly ask, “Who is that?” All you have to do is look at the roster to find who is who.

At 8:25 the formal agenda begins. Krauser starts the formal proceedings by going around the room and asking members to give a five to ten sound bite stating who they are and describing their business. Frequently, Krauser will ask members add to their sound bite by telling the group about their most interesting business experience that month, their most recent business transaction or problems they are encountering in their industry. When Krauser gets to the guests, he asks them to tell the group a little bit more about themselves and exactly what they do.

The next session is called “Getting Down to Business,” which generally takes at least an hour. Krauser asks the group, “Does anyone have anything that they’re working on that you may need assistance with?” Everyone at the meeting, members and guests, then has the opportunity to state explain what help they need and what project of theirs have problems. The other members may offer, direct help, suggestions or refer the member to someone in their networks who might help.

Throughout the meeting, Krauser makes sure that the members’ requests are specific. Some group members often tend to make general statements rather than direct requests. For example, they may state the problem, which group members may not be able to solve. However, if the member asked if anyone had contacts with a certain company, the response could be greater. Krauser questions them to bring out information may trigger help from the others members and guests.

In addition to moderating meetings, Krauser, through his seven groups, has a wide range of contacts. So, he also brings his entire contact base to the meeting as do all the other members and guests present. As a result, some help is usually forthcoming. The real resource is all of these contacts.

The Getting Down to Business segment is the time during the meeting when all of the members have the opportunity to use the entire group.

NETWORKING NUGGET

When Larry Turell’s wife Anne’s birthday was coming up, he decided to take her to dinner and a Broadway show. To make the occasion more festive, he decided to hire a limo to drive them to and from the Manhattan. Larry wanted the best Limo service, so he called Steve and Steve recommended a service with which he did business. The service was great, they did everything they could to make the evening memorable including arranging for a catering service to deliver a delicious meal that the celebrating couple enjoyed while riding into the City. Not only was the service top notch and non-intrusive, but it gave Larry its preferred customer rate, even though he was a first-time customer, which saved him a bundle.

After the Getting Down to Business segment, a five-minute coffee break follows. During this time, members can follow up on matters raised in the Getting Down to Business portion of the meeting. For example, if two members said they had contacts that could help the lawyer, they would give the lawyer their contacts’ information during the break or arrange a subsequent exchange via telephone or email. At this time, further questions can be asked and information exchanged without disturbing or wasting the time of other members.

After the break, Krauser conducts ten to fifteen minutes of networking exercises to help the group polish their networking skills. One exercise, is asking members to list the top five industries that provide them with business. Then he goes around the room and asks two or three members to read off their list. By conducting this exercise, he helps members refocus on whom they should be approaching to get more business. He will also as them to recite their sound bites speeches and critique or help them revise them. Krauser will also question members on whether they gave to other group members in the last month, whether they got leads back and what kind of leads they were.

The final meeting segment covers two areas: (1) reports on one to one visits and (2) exchanging thanks. Members tell the group about their one-to-one visits and what they learned so others can share their insights about the host’s business. Network Associates teaches its members that whenever they make a one-on-one visit, the visitor should give the host a lead. It’s a way of saying thanks and of giving, which is so essential in networking. As members learn about the host’s operation, they should always think, “Who would be good contact for this member to meet?”

During the final segment, members have the opportunity to thank others for giving them leads in the past month or at this meeting. It’s also the time to identify other members whose business you would like to visit. For example, if one member is being thanked often, it shows that the member is doing something right and that that he/she is probably a great candidate for a one-on-one visit.

After the meeting ends, members can hang around to tie up loose ends. They can follow up on information that raised during the meeting, set up one-to-one visits and talk about leads. Members often stay for an additional half hour.

NETWORKING NUGGET

Larry Turell needed a travel agent to book a vacation trip to Europe for him and his wife. Since there was no travel agent in his group, he called Steve for a recommendation. Steve referred Larry to an agent who was a member of one of Steve’s other groups. Larry called the agent, they got along well and Larry booked the trip through him. At no cost to Larry, the agent got him round-trip first class tickets. From that point on, the agent got all of Larry’s business.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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