Would You Fish Where There Are No Fish To Catch?


Well, would you? It doesn't make any sense to get your boat and fishing gear ready, pay for the petrol, drive to the fishing site and spend hours of your time and effort fishing…where there are no fish does it.

And yet you could be doing exactly this when you pick and attend any network function without putting some thought into it before going.

The thing is we are told that network groups are good for our businesses and so we know we are meant to go even though most people do not actually know what to do when they get there. So we pick a group and go along.

I firmly believe that there is potential in every group and that your luck is largely what you make it – it is dangerous to prejudge too closely because you don’t know who they know. However, if you are going to take the time and put the effort in, make sure you are in a group likely to have people attending that would be interested in your offer.

Firstly, make sure you understand your target market. Not just the dollars, ages, demographics and the usual stuff. You need to understand people at a deeper level to connect with them at that deeper level – that’s where the business comes from.

So what is really important to them? Family, a charity, an organization or maybe a belief? Is there a common thread among your customers? It is often NOT what you think it will be.

For example, I have also taught financial literacy for over 17 years and when I wanted to take it to a corporate market I racked my brains to find a common denominator. In the end I found that the decision makers at a corporate level where the human resource managers. Once I had this I could look for an organization full of human resource managers.

In the end I joined the Human Resource Institute of New Zealand and became surrounded by my target audience every meeting – and business followed.

In addition to the organized groups (such as BNI), there are many informal groups as well as over 3000 associations.

It is important to know what bait these fish prefer. Take the time to work out what makes this group different to other customer bases and adapt your approach accordingly.

What are:
•    Their prime motivations.
•    The problems that you can solve.
•    Appropriate language.
•    Terms of trade and many others.

Fine tune your approach and offering so that you strike the right cord with your audience. Every organization and group has their own idiosyncrasies. If the bait is not right the fish will not bite!

One last thought that I always stress as being paramount is that you are genuine in the service you provide and the desire to help solve their problems. A fake is always spotted quickly!

So find out exactly what fish you should be looking for, find out where they congregate, find the right bait to attract then, get your fishing tackle ready and put the sign on the door…”Gone fishing!”


Bill James raced from the humble beginnings of selling door to door to becoming a national sales manager within the finance and insurance industries.

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