A Masterclass in Networking: An Interview with Brad Burton

Brad Burton is the master of Networking. What this man doesn’t know about networking just isn’t worth knowing and we are delighted he has taken time out to chat to us here at The Brand Activators.
In 2006 Brad founded membership organisation 4Networking which is now the UK’s largest joined up national business network which has thousands of members and operates over 5,000 meetings each year.
Brad’s approach to life, business & motivation is unique, and anyone who has seen him will testify that he is a humorous, thought provoking and high energy motivational speaker. Yet he’s more than a speaker he’s the author of four books and the highest rated and reviewed 5* business author on Amazon.
Lean in for a Masterclass with Brad Burton.
BB (Brad Burton), HD (Hilary Dunne)
HD:  Why did you want to start your own networking group, what is it that makes 4Networking different?
BB: When I first entered self-employment, I tried various networking groups. In political terms, you had the loony left where nothing quite happened, all vol-au-vents and Chablis; think of it like a school disco. Then you had the hardcore right of networking, “Where’s your leads, where are your referrals”. Where was the mainstream of networking that appealed to the middle ground?
I based 4Networking on New Labour, 1997, in that I wanted to make the established networks look fuddy-duddy and old fashioned by being more progressive. more approachable. more caring.
HD:  What is the fundamental difference between 4Networking and any other network in the world:
BB: Back in 2006 when I started, the tagline was 50% social, 50% business and it works. Now, this was social business networking in real life and before social networking was even a thing so we were well ahead of the curve. Each meeting, (over 5000 a year across the UK), our members have great ten min appointments. Ten minutes, long enough to establish whether you like someone or not. Let’s face it, there HAS to be an element of likeability in order for any business relationship to be formed.  Difference between 4n and any other group, you can attend as many or as few as you want. No-one else is doing that.

HD: What can a member expect to get out of joining your network?
BB: A fresh modern progressive way of networking. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit and pocket watch to be business like. Members from all walks of life find friends, a community and business from 4N. Remember it is a fully joined up network. You can join in Sheffield and be visiting a meeting in Somerset the following week!
HD: What advice would you give to somebody looking at joining a networking organisation, so that they make it work for them in terms of sales, opportunities, new relationships, how should a business owner present themselves?
BB:  It takes time. Would you pass a lead referral job or contact to someone you don’t know, like or trust yet? Of course not. Well equally, the same rules apply. The reason you pass leads on etc is they like you, they know you, they trust you. This takes time, its going to take time. Be YOU. 100% you. Whatever you are. If your spending 20% of your time trying to be something you’re not, you are only 80% effective. 4N encourages everyone to be themselves. Not put on some “business networking “persona.
HD: Can you give some examples of successes within the network?
BB: I could tell you of a printer who made 20k day one. I can also give you an example of a 20million pound contract from a fleet of vehicles for a bread company.
However, that’s not the real world of networking if I’m honest. Now, these are not real-world examples that everyone can expect. But, we’ve also had 4n marriages, business partnerships, happening every single day. If you stop thinking of it as anything other than conversation, it’s so much more effective.
HD:  What are your top 5 tips – how can people make money from joining a business network
BB: 1.  Be you. Always.2.  Make it easy for people to say yes.3.  Provide offers/ask questions that requires interaction.4.  It takes time. Every big opportunity starts with a small conversation.5.  Don’t be” THAT” person”.
HD:  What tips would you give to someone who is anxious about walking into a room full of people and speaking to strangers?
BB: We are all nervous and anxious once. Including me. Absolutely true, I shook like a leaf. Understand this, everyone was the new boy/girl once. The more you do the better you become. Push through the fear and go. Honestly, in the 12 years of networking, I’ve yet to see someone punched in the face. At all 4N meetings, team members are engaged to look out for you and help.
HD:  What is the key to successful networking?
BB: Recognise that your priority isn’t everyone else’s. How long does it take to boil and egg? Is there any way of cooking it faster? Yes, but you end up with scrambled. Is that what you wanted? It takes time

HD: What is that successful networkers do that others don’t?
BB:  Ask the right questions. See I’ve had many people, over the course of the last decade, say 4N doesn’t work. I ask them this question. What bit of you talking to other people about your business isn’t working? Your success or failure when networking will be defined by your ability to ask questions. The right questions. It’s a bit like saying Google doesn’t work. Well it doesn’t if you don’t ask the right ones. Questions, questions, questions.
HD:  What things should you not do when networking?
BB: Shoving your cards into people’s hands is a no-no. Spray cards like a tom cat pissing is a no-no. Getting into personal space with less than adequate personal hygiene is a no-no



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