Many business owners know they ‘should’ be out networking, attending networking and business functions but simply don’t make the time. Why is this?
Many business owners either don’t understand how to network effectively, they are nervous about attending a networking event or they don’t believe they are going to get results. Networking can be an effective strategy to grow your business in more ways than one.
The first thing to remember is that when you attend a networking event it is an opportunity to meet people and make connections. It is not an opportunity to sell. This would be the number one mistake of people attending networking events – they think they are there to sell or to ‘get’ a client. Networking may eventually lead to these things, but this is not what is done at the event. At the event you are there to meet people who know people.
The average Australian knows around 200 – 250 people. You could go to a networking event and sell to the person in front of you, but you will be selling yourself short. Why? Because in that way you only make one sale, but if you took the time to get to know that person, then they may be able to refer you to five other people leading to five sales, not just one. To be honest, if they are a potential client to your business, they will tell you when you are talking to them.
The key with networking is to be interested, not interesting. Get to know people, get to know their business. Why are they all at the networking event? To find people to do business with. Use this fact to your advantage. Get to know them, be interested in them and their business. This will generate you more leads than running around shoving your business card in people’s hands. People don’t do business with a business card, they do business with someone they know, like and trust. Networking gives you this exact opportunity to allow people to get to know and like you. Trust comes after this. So at a networking event, be likeable!
Many business owners ignore the added benefits of networking for their business. You may not just find people who want to become a customer of your business or to refer their family or friends, you may find a strategic alliance. A business owner that has a business that has the same ideal client as you, but they are in a non-competing business. Think like a hairdresser and a beauty therapist or a personal trainer and a physiotherapist. Forming strategic alliances can be a great addition to your business that provides a steady flow of clients for years – or as long as you maintain the strategic alliance relationship.
The other added benefit is that you can find trustworthy people to refer your clients to at networking events.
Finally, you will increase your confidence. This is a hidden benefit that many business owners simply ignore, but it can have many effects in your business and they are all positive.
So is it time you went to a networking event? Head over to Google and see what events are coming up in your area. Just remember, you need to go more than once to make it work! Good luck!