Some business owners I meet complain that, although they attend networking events, they don’t actually get any work through them and question whether it is worth while bothering, given that there are 101 other things they could be spending their time doing.
Clearly, networking isn’t going to be an appropriate marketing tool for all businesses, but for many I believe it is. After all, if you needed a builder/ accountant/ IT specialist, wouldn’t you prefer to deal with somebody you have met and chatted to rather than somebody you didn’t know at all?
If you are going to use networking as a marketing tool for your business, as with any marketing tool you use, you first need a clear strategy in order to make it work well for you.
Below you will see my ‘top 5 tips’ to effective networking, this will to help you develop your own approach.
1. Choose the networking groups you attend wisely.
You need groups of proactive business owners, not ones that just meet to chat and feel good about themselves. Go along to the meetings with a goal in your mind for the number of cards you are going to hand out, receive, and the number of meetings that you are going to book.
2. Be clear on the type of business you are looking for.
Think about the size, type and location of companies you would like to work with. Make it easy for people to refer work to you by having a clear and concise offer.
3. Ask the people you meet about themselves and their businesses.
Don’t forget that people buy from people they like and showing interest in what others do will help build that relationship. Having a great story to tell will help make people interested in what you do, never try to just sell what you do.
4. Always follow-up on the people you have met after the event. Remember, networking is the start of the sales process, not the end. How do you follow-up after a networking event. Personally, I take all the business cards I have collected and I send invitations to have that contact connect with me via LinkedIn and Facebook.
5. Finally, make sure you measure the results of your efforts. Testing and Measuring is the key to reaching your goal for any activity that you participate in. If you aren’t willing to take the time to test and measure, then you might as well stop doing that activity.
So now you have a guide to effective networking, get out there, take action and make it work for you.
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