Most businesses at some time have dabbled with networking but how is it possible that some businesses love it and think it is the key to growing and sustaining their business. When others find it a waste of their time, a drain on their resources and worse still dipping into their profits!
If you’re not getting the results you want, here’s our guide to getting it right and why you could be getting it wrong…
First of all you need to know why you are networking. If your plan was to run in a room and run out again with 30 sales, then first of all you need a reality check. Unless you’re selling designer shoes or 5 star holidays for £5 its unlikely the sales are going to be pouring in. For networking to work it needs to factor as part of a structured focussed marketing strategy.
It is important to understand that networking enables you to;
- Get known as the thought leader in your field.
- Raises your profile above your competitors.
- Re-engages with past and current customers.
- Reminds people “Why you.”
- Ensures people know all that your company can do for them. (So often you will hear someone say “I didn’t know you did that too”.
- Remember this key phrase “You can’t not dictate when people buy however you can have a say in who they choose to buy from.”
- Build and protect your reputation and credibility. Valuable for creating a loyal client base.
- Know what outcome you want from networking. Remember the reality check? The goal is not to walk out of the door with 30 sales (although if you get your marketing and networking right, over time that is more than achievable!)
- Do you want people to sign up to your newsletter, follow you on social media, know about an event you are going to be exhibiting at, refer you to certain trades, help with solutions in your own business, know about special offers you have. Go with a clear idea of what you would ideally be speaking about if you get the right opportunity.
- Be interested in the other people in the room. We often tell shy people that you are in actual fact perfect people to network, because you are so scared to say the wrong thing you create a natural environment that enables the other party to share all about their business and why they love what they do. All networkers would love the chance to tell everyone why their business is awesome. The key is to build good relationships and by showing a genuine interest in other people you are helping that happen.
- In advance prepare some questions that you could ask people, such as; Who could the ideal person be for me to be looking to connect you with? Are you based locally? Do you trade nationally or just locally? Is it okay to connect with you on Facebook and LinkedIn? Do you have any suggestions on how I could handle X within my business? Questions that are open ended that allow the other person to feel respected and listened to. (Genuinely listened to.
- Know the answers for yourself to the above questions. Who would your ideal client be?
- Prepare a 60 seconds. Okay so not all events create the opportunity for an elevator pitch however practicing on the journey there what you could concentrate is a good idea. Aim to be less than 60 seconds, include statistics & facts and don’t try to cover too much. You can access more ideas on your 60 seconds success here.
- Don’t apologise for having no business cards, take theirs gracefully and say that you have just run out and will email them as a one off (you don’t want to look like a spammer) so that you have each others details.
- Don’t add people to your data base. Yes Business to Business you are allowed, however what does that say about your level of respect for that busy business owner?
- Do find people on social media and say “Hi.”
- Don’t find people on social media and start selling at them. Networking is about building a good reputation.
- Know in advance the follow up strategy you will have. If you don’t follow up effectively then in theory you have wasted the time you networked, the time you travelled to and from the event and the time you could have been doing something that actually would have put money in your bank account.
- And lastly if you don’t get a reply to an email, pick up that phone thing you carry around and talk to people.
After all great networking results are about communicating effectively to get connected.
And the bigger your network the more benefits you could be getting!