Tammy M
This post is another of many that is designed to help the new business networker to understand the dynamics and marketing strategy of a one-on-one.

Attending Business Network groups is a great first step to developing an never ending list of names for building any kind of business. Whether your business resides in a brick and mortar building, a network marketing business, direct sales, or a mlm, business network groups will allow you to develop your business in a way you never thought possible.

Of coarse there are still other means in addition to business network groups such as the new social networking movement that has taken the internet by storm but that subject will be reserved for another post. For simplicity this post is not going to engage social network. Look for future posts that will bring business networking groups and social media all together.

When you attend a business network group meeting, a term you will hear frequently used is one-on-one. A one-on-one is when two business owners from different businesses agree to sit down and share information about each other and begin to develop a relationship.

If you were to inquire around to different people and ask, "what is a one-one-one?", you will likely get many different definitions but there will be a consistent theme to each answer which is, "two business owners sit down and share information about each other".

When I started in networking, I found this answer to be so vague that I really did not have an answer and with my personality it just did not work. Because I could not find an answer there were many times that I would sit down to a one-on-one and ask the person sitting across from me, "what do you expect the results of this one-on-one to be". The great thing with this question is it laid the groundwork of our meeting up front and each of us had a chance to voice our expectation.

Over time I have come up with what I think is a good definition. I do encourage my readers to please provide your opinion since this topic does seem to be very individualized.

When I have a one-on-one with a person there are a few things that I keep in mind.

#1) I want to get to know this person and determine if I feel they are a person if integrity and character. This is a primary concern when having a one-on-one. If you feel the person you are facing is not a person of integrity then I suggest that you just have a nice conversation and then go your separate ways.
If a mutal feeling of trust appears to be plausible then your goal is to develop the relationship to a point where you would feel comfortable referring your mother to the person you are having your one-on-one with.

#2) The conversation must consist of each party sharing their product or service. It is absolutely vital that they understand your business and that you understand their business. In fact, it is my opinion that if an individual does not share their business then they are either, a) treating their business as a hobby or b) they do not feel you are of value to their business development. And just to be fair that are alot of people out there that do not have self worth to share their business, which is another way of saying they do not believe enough in their business that it will work for them. If this sharing of business does not occur then each party should agree to have another informal one-on-one in order to provide quality referrals.

#3) You want to know the approximate 250 people they know that you do not know. If you have conducted yourself properly through #1 and #2 then #3 has greater chances of occuring. Getting referrals is your goal. We have all heard about the guy that noticed the number of people that attended weddings and funerals and the number is around 200 to 250 people. Most of those people consist of family and close friends when attending weddings and funerals. Creating the relationship of trust and providing the necessary information for the other person to be able to convey your business is important since this creates your sales ambassadors.

The three points above are your focus during a one-on-one. Our next "How to" post will cover how to maximize this strategy and create business growth.
Tammy M
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Tammy M

When you search for network groups in the Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex, you will find there are many different flavors of groups with different rules. However, all of the network groups have a common reason for existing and that is to grow businesses and make money by offering products and services that people need.

The organizer of a business network group will be a business owner and people that attend the group also be business owners. The bottom line for every person attending is to develop their business is by giving out referrals and building the relationships to grow a stable and profitable business. The relationships developed in network groups will ultimately become the foundation for growth.

Building a solid foundation is primary and the methods to develop a foundation come from Zig Ziglar who said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you just help other people get what they want." By being the person that people can depend on, and trust.
Finding a group that you feel comfortable in, will usually require more than one visit. The only reason you may not return after one visit, is if you found the group is business exclusive and there is already a member of the group that represents your type of  business.

Before I go any further I probably need to explain "business exclusive".

Business exclusive in network groups means that, only one business may be a member in a given trade. This can best be explained by example.
Take for example, a network group is exclusive.  The group has a real estate agent as a member. In this case the position of "Real Estate Agent" is taken and therefore other real estate agents are not allowed to attend the meeting. The trade/position is occupied by a member of the network group who has earned or paid for the exclusive spot.

When you find a network group and you are interested in joining, you want to ask the usual questions; who, what, where, when, and cost, but these are secondary questions, the first question will be "is the group exclusive"? You want to know if a group is exclusive so that you can evaluate if you have a chance to attend the group and establish membership. Be courteous, conduct yourself professionally and try not step on other peoples toes.
There are different types of exclusivity. Some network groups allow for two businesses per category. In one of my groups, we allow two businesses per category but they have to be from different companies.
Some business network groups have no exclusivity, and then some groups allow the first member that represents that type of business to choose if they want exclusivity, and then some you pay your way to get exclusivity.
Knowing how the group is organized will make it easier to find meetings where you can develop your niche.
If the person you are talking to, cannot provide enough information about the network group, then ask if there is a web site or a person that can be contacted for additional information.

There you have a little bit about business network group.
As always feel free to add your voice.

Tammy M
Today I attended a meeting in Roanoke, Texas, called Heartlink Network.

Andrea Pender of Andrea Pender Photography host this women only network meeting.
All Heartlink Network meetings allow for each attendee to do a 3 minute commercial.
Meeting cost is $20 and includes lunch.
Meeting time is 11:30am till 1pm and occurs once a month on the 2nd Thursday each month.

Heartlink meetings are business exclusive on a first pay, first reserve basis and it is up to the host to keep a list of attendees and reserve exclusivity.

Contact Andrea at 817-691-5770 to reserve your spot.

Andrea runs a great meeting and her house is an open floor plan making it comfortable and able to accommodate a pretty large group. She has an area in her office where you can display your products if you choose to do so. I do encourage you to ask about product display at the time you setup your reservation.

Andrea takes the time to go the extra step and ask local area businesses to contribute a door prize to be given away to some lucky winner attending the meeting. She also takes the time to make sure everyone attending feels welcome and has a well organized folder containing a list of attendees with their contact information.

The really nice thing about this meeting is it is once a month and you have a 3 minute commercial time to share your business, which can lead to questions, which can lead to leads.

I asked Andrea to send me a little blurb that shares some of the fun and interesting things about her meeting and when I get that I'll post it.

At each meeting I attend I try to see if there is someone that stands out above the crowd and at this meeting I have to say it was Karla Hess with Mary Kay and she did not talk about her business but instead talked about her mission to recognize with a Christmas gift the wives of deployed soldiers out of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. She will be sending me information on that and I'll post it when I get it.
Tammy M
Attending your first network meeting can be intimidating and possibly embarrassing if you are not prepared. This post is to help you understand the process of a network meeting.

Most network meeting have a common agenda and in this post I have outlined an agenda flow.

When you arrive ensure to have business cards with you and set your cell phone to tazer, vibrate, or off to avoid possible embarrassment and as a courtesy. When you enter the meeting room I usually scan the room to see who I do or do not know and then locate where you plan to sit. If you are expecting an important phone call be sure to sit near an exit so if your phone should vibrate you can step out and handle your call without disturbing everyone else. If time allows visit around the room and greet other people.

To start the meeting someone will make an annoucement that the meeting is ready to begin and you need to politely conclude with whoever you are speaking and take your seat.

There is usually a master of ceremonies (mc) whose job it is to move the meeting along and explain about network group such as its purpose and how it may have started. This is where you want to pay attention to learn about membership requirements since it will vary from group to group.

Most network meetings have a dedicated time of usually 30 seconds for every attendee to deliver their commercial. Each person in the room will take a turn and deliver a commercial about their products and/or services. The MC will state how much time each person will have which can range anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. As a business owner you need to make sure you have a prepared 30 second commercial.

Next, most meetings will have a spotlight speaker. This spotlight speaker can be another business owners in the networking group that have attained membership status or it may be a special outside speaker that has been asked to come to the meeting and share their knowledge with the group. This spotlight can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how the meeting has been organized.

Then comes the thank you segment. This is a time where every attendee has a chance to acknowledge the efforts of other business owners for things such as referrals, business completed, or one on one meetings. This part may or may not be combined with any announcements that the attendees would like to share with the group. If announcements are not combined and you want to make an announcement it is best to ask permission prior since announcments can become lengthy.

And finally, the meeting is adjourned.

The description provided is only a common agenda and can vary from group to group. Some groups do not do any thank you segment. I know one group that has no commercial or thank you and the group I am thinking about is more focused on education which is why.

The time frame for a networking meeting may range anywhere from 1 hour to as much as 2 hours. I have never seen a meeting that lasted less than 1 hour unless it was a small group and they completed the agenda in less than 1 hour.
Tammy M
Wow, I can hardly believe that I obtained such a great name "Networking Ink". This is all about business networking by working together with each other and building all of our businesses.

Just a little about me and why I am doing this....I originally started in the corporate world with my career which I think most people started the same way. I was very successful and gave my loyalty without question to many but not all.

The first company who got my loyalty won it because of my boss and teacher. This person changed my life and took me from the office worker to a programming professional. 4 years into working for this company the parent company moved in and took over. They let go of the CEO, CIO (my boss), and all the Vice-Presidents. I was ok for about 10 months and then I was layed off. I felt the sting of this for quite a few years.

Down the career road, I had other jobs, other bosses, other layoffs.

Then I found this other company and this one was a giant but it felt like a small family company. I didn't sell my loyalty right away but it only took about 8 months and I knew this was the place I wanted to be. I worked there for 10 years and sold my soul. Then one day we started hearing the words budget...and reorganized...and RIF. The company found they could save "alot" of money if they outsourced to another country.

I went through something called, forced attrition, and it was then that I realized the pain had to stop. I experienced the entire emotional process and finally ended up vowing "I will never be dependent solely on a job again" and I realized that I would never be able to give my loyalty like I had in the past.

So, after being layed off, turned off, outsourced, railroaded, fired, restructured, reorganized, and a victim of forced attrition. I realized that the only way to stop the pain was to have my own business.

Much to my surprise, I found that while I was serving the corporate master there were people building businesses by means of network groups or also called a leads group.

I have to tell you, there are business network groups all over the place. In fact, this is so huge that entire companies have spawned catering to business networking. Sites such as meetup.com and konnect.com have become the "place" to find business meetings to attend.

I want to make sure you understand, when I refer to a network group, I am talking about mom and pop businesses, meeting with other businesses, and giving referrals, doing business with, teaming together, and helping each other to grow.

Business networking has morphed into a part of todays method of building a business and my goal to start is to help you to understand how it works.

The way I started was I joined my local chamber of commerce. I attended a networking group sponsored by the chamber and I was promptly invited to another group that was not associated with the chamber and it has grown from there. Network groups become fantastic connections for learning and growing your business.

Now before you go off half cocked and start blowing everyone away that gets within 3 feet. You need to know that these days growing your business is not done but means of something I call "advertising entrapment". You cannot grow you business by telling every warm blooded creature that can fog a mirror what you offer, it doesn't work that way anymore.

You grow your business by expanding your area of influence and building relationships. Businesses grow by growing with the people around you and getting involved, being a friend, and stop living in the cocoon that we create.

There are really great people out there that can can help you and you can help them and even though this mindset seems difficult for you to grasp today. As you get to know and grow with the people you meet you will begin to want other peoples successes as much as your own.

If you don't believe me and you are growing a business then I suggest you stick around. This is a journey and you are invited to come along for the ride as we build our businesses.

The next time we meet I'll share with you what a typical network meeting is like and what to expect from those around you and what is expected from you!

I'll also provide my first feature network group in the DFW area.