Countless business owners – from website designers, realtors, and hair dressers to business coaches, clothing boutiques, optometrists, and more – are active in networking groups. If you’re not already using this proven business-building technique, consider adding networking to your marketing mix.
|NETWORK YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
Networking events can be a phenomenal way to grow your business. Here are some of the keys to networking success:
Identify Your Target Market – Who do you want to meet? You may want to target potential clients and the people who typically influence their buying decisions, potential strategic partners, and other possible referral sources.
Choose Your Networking Venues – Most areas offer a wide variety of business networking opportunities, from industry groups to chambers of commerce, networking organizations, charitable groups, and more. Choose wisely, or your calendar will be filled with non-productive meetings.
Be Prepared – Bring an ample supply of business cards, as well as some copies of your company’s flier or brochure. Be aware that many organizations have each attendee stand up and give a 20- to 30-second “advertisement” for their company; practice yours in advance so your mind won’t go blank when it’s your turn to speak.
Focus On Your Benefits – Keep in mind that when you are presenting your business to others you need to focus on the benefits of what you offer. Why should someone do business with you? How will your product or service help them?
Follow Up Promptly – Within 24 hours you should follow up on all leads, introductions, promises to send information, and so forth. Don’t forget to send thank you notes to the people who refer business to you.
Build Relationships – Networking is all about relationships. Once you’ve found the right networking groups you should attend regularly, learn people’s names, have one-on-one meetings outside of the group, and maintain contact with the people you’ve met.
Bring Value – Be a giver. Help yourself by helping others. Offer free advice or services, look for opportunities to make introductions, refer business to others, and do whatever you can to help your networking partners to succeed.