Listen, you can go to all of the networking meetings under the sun and collect hundreds of business cards while you’re at it but if you’re not hanging out with people you can do business with, you might make some new friends, you won’t necessarily grow your business.
If you want to grow your business by networking it is imperative that you network with: people who are your ideal clients, people who know your ideal clients, and/or people who do business with your ideal clients. It’s that simple. When you network with people who need your products/services (or know others who do) there will be a natural interest in knowing more about your business.
Here are some things to consider.
- Effective networking can increase your visibility and strengthen your career. The more people you meet the more that know you. The most successful people in the world have vast networks. These help with jobs, leads, aid and a whole lot more.
- Do not be a wall flower make networking productive. In order to receive you have to give. Sitting in a corner and being inactive does not make you a networker. Even flour must be kneaded before it is bread you have to work at it.
- Remember to use an audio logo or value proposition. I work with many business owners and selling professionals. When I ask them what they do, they immediately rush into their title, stating, “I am the president of a bank,” “I am a consultant” or “I am a professional speaker.” If I were a client and heard this, I would immediately think, “So what?” Professionals today refrain from using their titles and occupations and instead provide an answer to the question “So what?” The method for doing this is known as a value proposition. Simply put, a value proposition is a statement that promotes the business to clients using outcome and results. This brief statement denotes the benefit(s) that a client receives from working with you. It is outcome based and focuses all attention on client.
- You are there for relationships not sales - A myth of networking is geared to the transactional end meaning that many attend expecting immediate business. Networking is about creating relationships that build trust and respect. The notion is to become a trusted advisor this does not happen overnight.
- Networking is a process and it takes at least six months of concentrated effort to build.
- As we all know networking is a powerful way of building professional relationships and generating new business opportunities. It is a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, advice, contacts and referrals. Although there is no one-size fits all way to network, it is important to remember proper business etiquette when approaching and developing new professional relationships.
Apply the right business networking techniques and you could be well on your way to growing your small business but get it wrong and you’ll be left wondering why others rave about the power of networking.
© 2012. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.