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Developing a Networking Contact Sphere

Forming symbiotic relationships with other entrepreneurs may help you boost business.
August 19, 2002
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/54718

Q: My question is about so-called "contact spheres." How do I decide which businesses are in my contact sphere?

A: First, let me describe how I defined the concept when I introduced it in The World's Best Known Marketing Secret: Building Your Business With Word-of-Mouth Marketing .

A contact sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relationship. They are in compatible, noncompetitive professions, such as a lawyer, a CPA, a financial planner and a banker. If you put those four people in a room for an hour, they're going to do business together. Each one is working with clients that have similar needs but require different services. Hence, they're working that symbiotic relationship.

My favorite example of a contact sphere is the caterer, the florist, the photographer and the travel agent. I call this the "wedding mafia"! If one gets a referral to a wedding, then they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions, more than most, have truly learned how to work their contact sphere.

Here are some other examples of contact spheres:

Let's take a computer sales and service company as an example. That contact sphere may include sales reps for telecommunications hardware firms and photocopier companies. Also, contractors who specialize in installing wiring may fit within this contact sphere to assist in wiring installations. Also, don't forget the computer trainers, who work with people and their computers on a daily basis, as well as business coaches and accountants, who may have clients that need to improve their company's technology.

To get the most out of your contact sphere:

Although developing a solid contact sphere will greatly increase your business, you must remember that it alone is not enough. Because contact spheres consist of small groups, you're not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individuals. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time you are developing your contact sphere.

Good luck. Contact spheres are a great way to start building your professional network.