Thrival Guide: Section I
Bring 2 Guests Per Month
BRING 2 GUESTS PER MONTH: WHY
The importance of consistently bringing guests to visit your chapter meetings and attend other SBRG events cannot be overstated. This is the primary way to grow and strengthen your business network. You have joined SBRG to “grow your business,” which is a nice way of saying make more sales, and being exposed to more people is the best way to close more business in a networking environment. More business comes from more referrals, more referrals come from more members and more members come from more guests.
Picture it like this: if your SBRG chapter is a city, the members of the chapter are its inhabitants and guests are tourists. When there’s a steady flow of tourists, the result is an energy and a flow of life that keeps things vibrant, contributing to a thriving economy. The best part is that, undoubtedly, some tourists are going to love your city and find their own place in it, contributing even more to its growing economy and attractiveness to the next tourists who come through.
Without consistent tourism, things have a tendency to get stagnant and stale. People can get too comfortable, and although the economy may be staying steady, the lack of growth can be frustrating, and can actually feel like atrophy. We want to empower you to grow your city into an empire by attracting the right kind of tourists, those who will want to contribute to what you’re building.
There can be two different motivations behind inviting guests to visit your chapter, and one of these will likely be more motivating for you than the other. So, before we get into the Who, How, Where, and When of inviting guests, let’s explore the two motivations you can use to bring guests in a way that’s most comfortable and productive for you.
THE TWO MOTIVATIONS TO BRING GUESTS ARE:
- TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BUSINESS
- TO STRENGTHEN THE BUSINESSES OF THE OTHERS IN YOUR CHAPTER
Staying true to our Core Values, we’ll start with having the mindset of bringing guests to strengthen the businesses of the others in your chapter. At SBRG, we Look to Benefit Others First, and when this value is applied to inviting guests, a process that can feel selfish and “salesy” can turn into a natural, comfortable conversation about benefiting others, and can be enjoyable and rewarding.
You know people who other people want to know! This one idea can spark an explosion that forever changes your networking experience. There are members in your chapter whose businesses would be hugely impacted if they had the opportunity to meet the people you already know and interact with. Your personal and professional networks reach so much further than you realize, and you could be the key person in an introduction that’s life-changing.
If you don’t like coming off as the “pushy salesman,” and you worry your invitations could seem like they come with an ulterior motive or are self-serving, this mindset may be the path of least resistance when it comes to inviting guests to visit your chapter. Genuinely focusing on inviting the people you know, like, and trust to meet others you know, like, and trust — with their best interest in mind — can be the key to unlocking your inner networker. In the HOW section, we’ll explore some simple phrases and conversations that can make you an effective member in your chapter, helping create connections between the business owners and professionals you already know.
The second motivation for inviting guests is a little more direct: you are the CEO of your business (whether your title says so or not) and as such, you have made the decision to join a business networking group to work on your business. This is part of your marketing, and just like all marketing, you need to have a plan, and put resources behind it. This guide is designed to help you with that plan, and it is up to you, Mr./Ms. CEO, to execute on it. The main resource used to be successful with this method of marketing is time. (In the sections to follow, we’ll cover where best to use this resource.)
To “grow your business” in SBRG, you either need to increase the amount of closed business from the connections you already have in your chapter, or increase the number of connections you have in your chapter. We propose you do both, and the single most important ingredient in this plan is to Bring 2 Guests Per Month.
As CEO of your business, it is up to you to make this happen. Don’t take a half-hearted approach and wait for others to do it for you; don’t sit back and hope the other members in your chapter will carry the load on this. If growing your business is something you are serious about, we can help you find and bring guests in a way that’s comfortable for you.
BRING 2 GUESTS PER MONTH: WHO
Now that you understand the importance of bringing guests to visit your chapter, let’s discuss who to invite. There are a few different sets of businesses to focus on, depending slightly on which of the above motivations inspire you:
- BUSINESSES IN YOUR INNER CIRCLE
- BUSINESSES IN THE INNER CIRCLE OF OTHER MEMBERS IN YOUR CHAPTER
- BUSINESSES THAT COMMONLY BENEFIT FROM BEING IN A NETWORKING GROUP
Inner Circle: a group of professionals who work in related/complementary fields and share clients.
Every day, you’re already interacting with dozens of business owners and professionals who could be a great fit for your chapter. The first step to inviting guests is to create a finite list of businesses and professions to help guide who you’d like to invite. Creating and reviewing this list will help “highlight” these people in your mind as you are going about your daily tasks in your business, and in this section, we’ll help you create it.
If you Look to Benefit Others First, it’s important to know what types of industries are in the Inner Circle for the other members of your chapter. The graphic on the next page can give you a good idea, but the best way to find out what professions would benefit them is to ask. (We’ll cover this more in the face-to-face section.) Your fellow members can communicate with you about who they’d like to connect with from your sphere of influence. At the end of this section, there will be an exercise to help you build a list of the resources (people) who you literally already have at your fingertips.
The same strategy applies when looking to invite guests who are in your Inner Circle. As the CEO of your business, it’s important for you to know what resources you have at your disposal, and where there may be gaps. The worksheet on the next page will help you clarify exactly who you need to be seeking out to bolster your business network. Find the gaps and seek to connect with professionals in those industries.
Every industry can find an Inner Circle to be part of a power team, but there are many industries that should be a part of every business networking group, not just for their sake, but also for the sake of the chapter itself. Below is a list of the 50 highest occurring industries in business networking groups. Ask yourself, “Who do I know?” for each industry and write down their names. Then, working from this list, as well as a list of members in your chapter, you can discover who to invite to your chapter meeting.
|Residential R.E.||Home Cleaning||Interior Decorator||Renovation Contractor|
|Flooring||Home Security||Home Inspector||Heating/A.C.|
|Financial Advisor||Accountant||Mortgage Broker||Lawyer|
|Life, Health, Disababilty Insurance||Credit Card Services||Small Business Banking||Collection Agency|
|P & C Insurance||Venture Capitalist||Employee Benefits||Bookkeeper|
|Paralegal Services||Credit Counselor|
|Florist||Photographer||Event Planner||Dry Cleaner|
|DJ||Auto Mechanic||Auto Sales/Leasing||Hair Stylist/Barber|
|Travel Agency||Funeral Director||Spa||Esthetician/Cosmetic|
|Nutritionist||Chiropractor||Massage Therapist||Speech Therapist|
|Optician||Physiotherapist||Personal Trainer||Nutrition Products|
|IT Outsourcing||Sign Company||Promotional Products||Software Development|
|Management Consultants||Marketing Communications||Office Supplies||Telecommunications|
|Business Coach||Web Design & Hosting||Office Furniture||Printer|
|1. Financial Advisor/Consultant||2. Residential Mortgages||3. Health & Wellness Products|
|4. Real Estate – Residential||5. Accounting Services||6. Chiropractor|
|7. Insurance – Property & Casualty||8. Massage Therapist||9. Bank Services|
|10. Builder-Residential||11. Cosmetics- Skin Care||12. Insurance – Life/Pension|
|13. Painter Commercial/Residential||14. Printing Services||15. Electrician|
|16. Computer Service/Support||17. Landscaping Services||18. Web Hosting-Design|
|19. Automotive Services||20. Bookkeeping||21. Embroidery/Screen Printing|
|22. Insurance – Supplemental||23. Real Estate – Commercial||24. Cabinet & Closet Organizer|
|25. Cleaning, Carpets, Floors Upholstery||26. Graphic Design||27. Handyman|
|28. Attorney – Business||29. Attorney – General Practice||30. Attorney – Estate Planning|
|31. Attorney – Family Law||32. Plumbing/Heating||33. Automotive Sales|
|34. Dentist||35. Interior Design||36. Attorney – Personal Injury|
|37. Real Estate – Appraisals||38. Sign Company||39. Wireless Service (Cellular)|
|40. Automotive Body Shop||41. Automotive Glass||42. Florist|
|43. Heating-Air Conditioning HVAC||44. Legal Services – Support||45. Photographer|
|46. Restoration – Cleaning||47. Title & Escrow Agency||48. Business Consulting|
|49. Residential Cleaning||50. Eye Care|
BRING 2 GUESTS PER MONTH: HOW
Inviting guests to your chapter can be a very natural thing to do when approaching it with a mindset that is true to what you’re looking to accomplish, and you are armed with appropriate questions and responses. In this section, you’ll be presented with a host of questions and approaches that will assist you in inviting more guests to your chapter meeting and SBRG functions, in a way that works for you. Some of the questions you’ll like, some of them you won’t; pick the ones that work for you and make them your own.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Now that you have a list of people you know and need to know in various professions, let’s work on how to invite them.
Whether you’re talking with an old friend, or meeting someone for the first time, it’s important to realize that you control what you talk about. You can direct a conversation to virtually any topic you’d like, and it can be done in a simple, non-intrusive way.
A great question to start the conversation is, “How’s business these days?” It doesn’t matter what their industry, this question will elicit a response. Their answer will give you a good indication of whether they’re even able to take on more business, which is the biggest prerequisite to joining a business networking group.
They will likely ask you how business is going for you, and this is the perfect opportunity to talk about SBRG and your chapter. Talk about your experience. Make a point to relay to them the amount of business you’ve generated, as well as the amount of business you’ve referred to others in you chapter, and note that their industry is not represented. Your anecdotal experience is very influential and can attract a lot of visitors.
The follow-up question then becomes, “Could you handle more business? My chapter is looking for a __________ to refer our business to.” At this point, knowing what industries comprise the Inner Circles of the members in your group would be a great asset. Be specific and ask if they would like an introduction to the other members at your next chapter meeting, and give them a brief rundown on who the members are; talk them up a bit. Having clear messaging about your fellow members can be very motivating, which is why it’s so important to have a well-developed Business Reel (which we discuss in other training resources).
Another perspective you can take to these invitations is Look to Benefit Others First and use your business network to make connections to strengthen the potential visitor’s business. A couple of questions you could ask are, “What industries consistently could refer business to you?” or “What industries have the kind of customer you’re looking for?” Then, depending on their response, you can give them the names of the members of your chapter who match, and invite them to your next meeting to introduce them to the appropriate people. It could also be as simple as, “There’s a CPA in my business network who’s looking for an insurance professional to refer business to. Would you like to meet him?”
You can also invite guests to more than your weekly chapter meeting. One of the benefits of being an SBRG member is free admission for you and your guests to all SBRG events. Whether it’s one of our Learn@Lunches or an SBRG mixer, these events are easy excuses to invite other professionals you know who may benefit from networking, learning about SBRG, or learning from the free content we provide.
As you can see, there are a lot of comfortable ways to invite people you already know and do business with to visit your chapter, but don’t underestimate the success of a “cold-calling,” approach either. Like all marketing, developing your business network is a numbers game, so reaching out to as many people as possible can be an effective method of finding those who are interested in visiting and joining your chapter. There are hundreds of people who know they should be in a business networking group, and your invitation could be just the impetus they need to finally do it. Below is an example of an email/text/message you can use to reach out to professionals you have little or no connection to yet.
My name is Daniel, and my business networking group is looking for a ____________ to refer our business to. Small Business Referral Group is industry specific, so we only have one representative from every profession, and we are looking to fill your industry’s spot as soon as possible.
In SBRG, we look to benefit others first, and we are looking for professionals who have the same mindset. If you’re interested in growing your business through referrals from other business professionals, I’d like to invite you to visit our chapter. We meet for breakfast on Wednesdays from 8-9:30 a.m. at _____________, and your meal is on me.
Is this something you’re interested in?
With today’s technology, getting this type of message out to as many people in the industries you’re looking for can easily help you find a multitude of professionals who are interested in visiting and joining your chapter.
In the process of working to Bring 2 Guests Per Month, you’ll likely come across people who are not familiar with networking groups, or want to know what makes SBRG different from other networking options. Be prepared to give a brief description about SBRG: what we are and why we’re different.
- Small Business Referral Group is an industry-specific networking organization where business owners and professionals get together to build strong relationships and support each other’s businesses. Each week, we get together to learn more about each other, and how we can refer more business to the other members in our chapter.
- SBRG is changing the networking experience by providing all the systems and structure professionals look for in a networking environment, but without the corporate feel and strict policies other companies have. For example, no forced referrals; a real-world attendance policy; and no forced, paid trainings.
Also share with them why you joined, and what attracted you to the culture and personality of SBRG. Your personal reason will hold far more weight than some general talking points.
Whatever method you decide to use, remember there are hundreds of business professionals who are waiting for your invitation to visit your chapter and grow their business. Now let’s discuss good places to find these qualified professionals.
BRING 2 GUESTS PER MONTH: WHERE
You’re already connected to all the people you need to grow your chapter; you simply need to reach out and invite them. In this technology age, you’re connected to hundreds of thousands of people. A few you interact with daily, while the majority are available to you digitally. This section will help you focus your efforts in a way that fits you the best, to help you find the right people for your chapter.
The easiest place to find potential visitors and members is online, where there are dozens of options. We’ll discuss some of the sites you’re likely already a part of, and make your time on these platforms more efficient and effective when it comes to inviting guests to your chapter. Almost everyone is a part of social network, in some form or another; if you’re not involved with any of these networks, you should seriously consider joining.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 562 million users in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Its mission is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. SBRG members can easily leverage this network to invite dozens of people from specific industries and locations, and do it efficiently and effectively.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, we suggest you get one immediately and fill out your profile page with the information requested. At a minimum, you should have a picture of yourself and the information on
your current industry and position. There is also a field for a brief description of who you are and what drives you. Be clear and specific in this area, and write what makes you stand out so the people you invite get a good picture of how you operate your business. Now search for Small Business Referral Group and request a connection.
Within LinkedIn, you can easily search by industry and location to target the professions and industries you’re looking to invite to your chapter, e.g., “Health Insurance Temecula” or “Chiropractor Mira Mesa.” You’ll get hundreds of results of potential visitors you can connect with. If you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, you can message these candidates directly, but if you use the free account, you need to Connect with them first, and once they accept your connection request, you’re
able to send them your invitation using the text/email/message script (or something like it) from the previous section.
LinkedIn is a goldmine waiting to yield dozens of interested visitors who are excited to be part of your chapter. LinkedIn users are there primarily for business reasons, so it’s okay to be direct and to the
With 2.2 billion monthly users, Facebook is an obvious environment to be able to connect with hundreds of qualified professionals to invite to your chapter. As with LinkedIn, we suggest you create a profile on Facebook, and depending on your profession, you may want to create a personal page as well as a business page. But unlike LinkedIn, where it’s encouraged to make new connections with people you don’t know, Facebook is designed to help you connect with people you already know, and the people they know.
In this section, we don’t have the space to cover every use of the site, but there are a few strategies to help you use your existing relationships, business and personal, to invite others to visit your chapter. We would also suggest reviewing one of the many articles that have been written about how to leverage Facebook for business purposes.
As with LinkedIn, start by searching for Small Business Referral Group and sending a Friend request, then search for the other members in your chapter and Friend request them. One of the easiest ways to find and connect with people you know is to find organizations you have been or are affiliated with, like schools, corporations and cities. In the search bar at the top, type in the name of any of these organizations, and the results will show you hundreds of possible connections you already have to potential visitors. Then, go through the results and Friend the people you know or want to know.
Another way to find people to invite using Facebook is by searching your personal contacts on other platforms such as Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail or Instagram. When you import your contacts, Facebook will search using email addresses to connect you with them on Facebook and make suggestions based on connections you have in common. On your profile page at the top is a tab that says “Friends.” When you click on this, you’ll see another tab that says “+ Find Friends.” Under that tab, “Add Personal Contacts” is the area where you can give Facebook access to the other platforms, and it will do the rest.
Once you start building connections with other users, you can invite specific people you know to come to your chapter via the in-site Messenger or writing on their wall. You can also ask your network for connections via a post: “My SBRG chapter is looking for _________. Is anyone interested?”
Facebook is primarily designed for making personal connections, so start there, and as your network expands, so will your reach. You can start socially, then make business connections as you develop relationships.
ONLINE: OTHER NETWORKING WEBSITES
Facebook and LinkedIn are by no means the entirety of the list when it comes to social media sites to grow your business, but they are the two heaviest hitters. Websites like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, Nextdoor, and Angel List are all solid ways to find prospective guests; each platform has its own demographic, so it’s important to spend time on the ones that have the type of users you’re looking for. With so many users, it shouldn’t be difficult to find people who are interested in visiting your chapter to grow their business.
The digital age has provided an incredible opportunity to connect with millions of people in a matter of seconds, but there are still a few traditional methods to meeting and inviting quality people to visit your chapter. It’s hard to replace a face-to-face interaction or a good handshake, and there are many quality professionals who would be great visitors, but may not by participating in connecting digitally, for one reason or another.
IN PERSON: CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
One of the best places to network in your community is your local chamber of commerce — an association or network of businesspeople designed to promote and protect the interests of its members, according to Investodedia.com. Also known as a “board of trade,” a chamber of commerce is often made up of a group of business owners who share a locale or interests.
Becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce can be a powerful way to connect with other local business owners and professionals from your community. Small businesses are still the backbone of the economy, locally and nationally, and the chamber tends to attract professionals who have the mindset of wanting to help make each other stronger, and make the community better. Most small business owners want to do business with other small business owners in the area, because they’re in the same boat, and have the same struggles.
For the sake of this guide, we will talk about how to maximize your chamber experience not to get more business, but to find more guests to invite to your chapter — which will bring you more business.
A chamber of commerce experience is about knowing and becoming known, not necessarily finding new customers for your business. You’ll likely come across members of the chamber who don’t have this perspective, and at every event they’re in a mad dash to hand out as many cards as possible, and pitch as many people as possible about themselves and their business. This approach may lead to some business, but it’s transactional in nature, with no meaningful, lasting connection typically made. At SBRG, we put relationships first.
When you attend chamber events, you’ll probably see the same 90% of people at 90% of the events, and a good way to evaluate your mindset is to see if this bothers you. If it does, your approach is likely self-focused; you don’t like seeing the same people because, “they already know what I do and they haven’t been interested in buying from me.”
Look To Benefit Others First! Every chamber event is an opportunity to know and be known, and the more frequently you see the same faces, the more you can learn about them and what they do. They will inevitably return the favor, and when they do, be prepared to talk about your business, and more importantly, be prepared to talk about SBRG’s role in your marketing, and the difference it’s made.
This is another instance when knowing the Inner Circle of your fellow SBRG members can be so important. When you’re learning about other chamber members’ businesses, try to make a connection for them with SBRG members. (You can use some of the verbiage from previous sections.) Ask them if they’d like to connect with some of the members in your chapter who can drive them more business, and if their industry spot is available, let them know that as well. They’re at the chamber event for the same reasons you are — to make meaningful connections and get more business — so help them with that.
This process takes patience, but with all marketing, the key is consistency. Trust takes time to build, and when you consistently show up to chamber events looking to truly know and be known, relationships will start to form, and it will be easier to invite guests to your chapter meetings and events.
IN PERSON: DAY-TO-DAY BUSINESS
We’re all very busy working in our businesses, which can make it difficult to work on our businesses as much as we know we should. In this section, we’ll review ways to do both at the same time, and help you develop the mindset to make the most of the things you’re already doing, rather than needing to add another thing to your plate.
You’re already interacting with a host of business owners and professionals who want to have more business, and would appreciate the opportunity to meet the other members in your chapter. The key is just to “see” them as you go about your normal day.
You see whatever it is you focus on and decide to see, due to you brain’s Reticular Activating System. One of the simplest explanations we could find is as follows:
This basically means you will see whatever you tell your brain is important for you to see. (This is why it’s so important to have written goals that are reviewed daily. It programs your brain to see opportunities to get you closer to those goals, faster.) The way to work on your business while working in your business is to decide it’s important, and it’s something you want to do. You’ll be surprised by the results.
Each day, you interact with hundreds of people in both your personal and professional life. Within these interactions, there are probably a dozen or more people who are potentially interested in visiting your chapter; it’s just a matter of starting the conversation.
Some of your interactions are with people in industries you know could benefit from business networking, so you just need to introduce them to the concept. As noted previously, ask them if they can handle more business and if they’d like to be introduced to the other members in your chapter. Give them specific people who would be part of their Inner Circle, noting their complementary industries.
You’ll likely have other interactions with people who you don’t know as well — and maybe aren’t quite sure what they do, because it’s never really been that important to you. “What is it you do for work again?” or “Who do you work for again?” are simple questions to get the conversation started. “Could you use more business?” or “Could you use more referrals?” are good follow-up questions to gain a bit more clarity on whether an invitation to your chapter is appropriate. If someone says yes to either of these questions, let the person know about your chapter, including the other members in it, and ask if they’d like to be introduced to specific members in their Inner Circle at your next chapter meeting.
Whether online or in person, there ample opportunities to invite dozens and dozens of interested candidates to visit your chapter. All it takes is an understanding of:
- Why visitors are important
- Who are some ideal candidates to keep an eye out for
BRING 2 GUESTS PER MONTH: WHEN
Growing your business through networking doesn’t have to be time-consuming. As we’ve mentioned before, all marketing takes resources and consistency, and business networking is no different.
The resource that’s needed consistently to maximize your membership in SBRG is time, and the good news is it isn’t a lot — you just need to make sure this small about of time is spent consistently and with purpose.
Whichever mindset or methodology you decide fits you best, set aside the time to get it done in a consistent manner. For some of you, this will require time blocking, while others are better served by having a to-do list that needs to be completed by the end of the day.
You can decide what you’d like to do and where, whether it’s diversifying your efforts on multiple strategies, or doing one thing and focusing on being the best you can be at it. If you decide on doing a little of each thing, it could look like this: 90 minutes at your SBRG chapter/event, 60 minutes at a chamber/community function and 30 minutes connecting with people digitally.
Or, if you’re more comfortable with focusing on one strategy and becoming proficient in it, your time could look like this: 90 minutes at your SBRG chapter/event and one hour spent at two separate networking events. Or, 90 minutes at your SBRG chapter/event and one hour spent online finding guests who would benefit from visiting your chapter.
Whatever way you slice up the time, you can see there is not a huge investment of time when you decide to grow your business and Look to Benefit Others First. All it takes is being purposeful and having a plan that helps you see the world a little differently. Remember, You Get Out What You Put In, and if you’re willing to consistently spend time helping others grow their network and their business, these efforts will absolutely reap rewards for you and your business. A farmer doesn’t go sow seeds once in the spring and expect to do nothing until fall to reap his crops. All growth takes time and attention, and the results of your harvest are completely up to you. Be consistent and be purposeful.