Sterling 121’s – it’s more than “just a coffee”
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Did you know that most opportunities happen outside of the actual networking event? When you connect with the members of your group and spend time getting to know them better through a structured meeting you will find that you are both able to find more opportunities for each other.
Sterling Networks run 24 groups across multiple locations in the Midlands, South West and Oxfordshire and actively encourage our members to arrange 121 meetings as we recognise it is the best and most effective way to build business relationships and get referrals – which is of course why we all go networking.
In this article we want to share with you how to make the most of your 121’s and why it is not just an opportunity to meet and chat over a coffee!
What is a 121?
A chance for you to meet up with a fellow Sterling member and get to know each other’s businesses better, giving you a much better chance of being able to make quality referrals to each other, which is where the benefit of being a Sterling member comes to you.
How often should you have 121’s?
Each member should aim to have a 121 with every other member of their networking group at least every six months. There will be some members that your business is more closely aligned to, and your 121 meetings might happen more frequently.
Where should you have 121’s?
This is up to you – but we advise that it’s somewhere that you can hear each other speak, somewhere that is easy to find. You could meet at each other’s business premises or at a neutral place if you’re likely to be distracted by work during the 121.
How long should the 121 be?
Roughly 1 hour – 30 minutes for each of you to set out your business, talk about your ideal customer and maybe also mention what you’re NOT looking for – so that it’s clear.
What should you cover in a 121?
Don’t treat it as a sales pitch – you’re not trying to do business with the other Sterling member, but to use them (and they use you) as extended members of their own team to look for opportunities and make valid introductions (referrals) when appropriate.
You should clarify what your business does and who it does it for.
You should know who your ideal customer is and be able to share this in your 121
You should say how you would like any referrals made. (E.g. “An introductory email copying us both in is great” or “Give me a call with the details before you make an introduction”.)
Share success stories – if your fellow member can sing your praises when you’ve helped a customer, or succeeded where others couldn’t, then make sure you pass that information on.
Ask the same questions of your fellow member – remember that referrals are a
Always follow up..
After the 121, make sure that you action any promises that you make – if you already have potential work to pass to your fellow member, do so, in the way that you’ve agreed works best for you both .
Remember to schedule in a repeat 121 at regular intervals – all businesses change, and it’s worth keeping up with what you’re asking for, and what you’re being asked for – so that you can continue to make great referrals to your fellow members.