Networking is not just about face to face events, such as your latest greasy breakfast or glass of wine at the social drinks. It is how you create and develop your network online and offline. For example, via Events, via LinkedIn, via one to one meetings.
There are many networking opportunities. You could attend a networking meeting for most breakfasts, lunches and dinners! However, it’s not just about the next event. Effective networking for your business can perhaps be achieved without ever attending an event.
Break down the word ‘NETWORKING’ and you have some of the answers already.
- Networking – identify a network of contacts and business influencers that can truly impact your business (eg they will buy from you, they will refer others to you, they have a synergy to work with you, they sell to the same market)
- Networking – cast a net and capture your contacts with the objective to convert them from a nice to know contact to an advocate of your business
- Networking – proactively work on building the relationships and making regular contact with your purpose in mind
- Networking – if you get networking right, it can be the cost effective king of your marketing strategy
Who can create the basis of your network and therefore who is likely to be in it?
- Family connections
- Friends or their connections
- Neighbours (the family / children’s friends!)
- Old employers or work colleagues
- Business clients and associates (past & present)
- Other local business owners with synergy for the same prospect
- Accountants, bankers and other professionals.
Of course, anyone can be in your network, but who do you want in your network? A common question is “Who should I network with?”. See our thoughts in the knowledge base response to this question.
Think about your objective for the network (eg referrals, education, friendship etc) and build your contacts accordingly. For example, if it is referrals, then consider, who else is likely to be in touch or working with your ideal customer? Connect with them and invite them to your network with an invitation of value.
Networking is a powerful marketing and business tool. There are a number of secrets used by professionals to build a powerful network of relationships and sales opportunities. Here are my top 6 secrets:
- Be a farmer, not a hunter – sow the seeds, don’t sell to the room but build a network that wants to sell for you
- Generate business for those you meet – if you help generate some business for someone, they will want to return the favour
- Be very clear what you want – how will you measure the success? Your activity and words will then replicate this
- Follow the etiquette of the room – usually based on common sense, but observe and respect appearances, behaviour, structure and format
- Listen – actively show real interest in the people you speak to
- Follow up – it doesn’t end after the event has finished. Make relevant follow ups, avoid immediate sales pitches, seek permission to add them to your mailing list.
You can hear more thoughts in my Video ‘Snippet’ on my YouTube channel via https://entrepreneursmentor.co.uk/2020/04/06/what-is-networking/