Do you know why Starbucks is so successful? Why do people stand in line and pay a higher price for a common commodity like coffee? Best-selling author Dr. Joseph Michelle researched the subject for a number of companies and wrote books on them: Starbucks (The Starbucks Experience), The Ritz-Carleton Hotel (The New Gold Standard), Zappos (The Zappos Experience) and Mercedes-Benz (Driven to Delight), all who command a higher price than their competitors. He found the reason was the experience people had with the product, the staff, and the store.
So, if you think of your networking event as a store and you as the owner or sales manager, what would you do to insure people, who you meet (visitors), have the greatest experience. Here are a few things to consider:
- First impression: Is the meeting area open, pleasant looking, and inviting? The visitor is the most important person at the meeting. The visitor is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to serve him. What type of presence do you personally signal to the visitor? Are you courteous, helpful, with a professional appearance? Is the meeting focused on referrals and closed business? Are the members organized in open groups so a visitor can easily be integrated? Is there networking time available before the meeting starts?
- Vision: Are there posters or displays which show the goals and priorities of your group? Is there an action plan to reach those goals? Are your mission statement, values, and purpose visible? Can they see how much business is being done between members? Or, how much the group is doing for charities? Are they truly on a path to success for the future of their members?
- Cooperation: Are there other similar groups with whom the members meet with on a regular basis? Is there a website containing all the members of all of the groups?
Can you select members to contact based on group, area of town, or profession? If there a connection to social media?
- Emotion: What type of emotions does this experience create for the visitor? Do they feel a commoradery? Do they have a longing for belonging? Do they see themselves as a productive member of your group. Do they view extraordinary service being provided?
- Leadership: Do they see leaders working together in a committed effort for the benefit of the organization? Are there leadership positions available for new member to aspire to? Do all leaders and sub-leaders report on the progress they are making?
- Uniqueness: What makes the group different from other groups they have visited? Every day they have invitations to visit other networking groups. Does the experience they have visiting your group equate to the best? What do you need to change to make that happen?
- Education: Are there a number of networking books, articles, and CDs displayed so the visitor can see education possibibilities. Are there initial and ongoing training classes, podcasts, and webinars for members to learn the business model and effective ways to network?
- Promptness: Does the meeting start and stop on time. Does the meeting follow a regular agenda and was the visitor given a copy of the agenda when they arrived?
- Orientation: Was the visitor given the opportunity to attend an orientation session so all of their questions could be answered?
- Action: Did you provide reasons for the visitor to take action now?
So, the next time you host or attend a networking event, see if these ten criteria are met.
See you at the next networking event!