Recently I was asked to share some ideas for getting more members into a networking group – in other words getting the group more business.

Often when consultants are asked to share ideas, they rattle off their list of top 10 quicker than you can ask the question (oh how we love to share). However, usually that ends up with the group saying ‘oh we’ve already tried that” and the consultant either feeling sheepish or a bit miffed thinking, “well if it’s worked so well, why did you ask me!”

So rather than bullishly come up with ‘the answer’, I asked the group what they’d done in the past so together we could get a better idea of what had and hadn’t worked before. Needless to say, some of what I might have suggested was on that list (just as well I asked, huh!!).

When we got to the bottom of what wasn’t working, some of the things that stood out were;

  1. Many of the group members were thinking about inviting their visitor from their own perspective – they had to get new members – which kind of smelled a little like the sales person that’s desperate to close the deal, any deal, just sign now, pleeeeeease?. That in itself is off-putting enough. Worse when you add they were thinking about themselves first and their potential fellow networker second (or maybe not at all).
  2. Some members of the group rushed in and asked anyone they came across rather than delving deeper into the other person’s needs to cherry pick those for whom the group would have been a great fit
  3. Whilst they were keen to share how great the group was, they were sharing what was good for them rather than the reasons their potential member might find interesting (things like a strong inner group of people in allied industries or the number of referrals group members gave each other or something else their guest might be really keen to learn more about).

In essence, what they’d forgotten about, in their desire to ‘nab’ new members was WIIFM for the potential member. Rather than appealing to their prospect’s business need, they were off on a rant about their own needs – so much easier to do, but so much less fruitful. In the end we developed a WIIFM list (almost like a list of selling points – but benefits driven rather than features) that they each felt comfortable using to talk about membership of the group.

What are they going to do moving forward?

  • Ask lots of questions up front – so they can
  • Assess whether the group might be a good fit for their ‘prospect’ – and if it is then they can
  • Tailor their approach with information (and reasons to check the group out) that is meaningful to the ‘prospect’

WIIFM is simple stuff, but so few people remember to use it. If you’re part of a membership group, let me know what worked to get you involved, how you get others on board or where else you might use WIIFM.

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