February 2013: Building Business Relationships: Networking
If you've read my posts since New Years, you hopefully have your 2013 vision laid out and your goals are set. (If you didn't get the past newsletters just ask in a reply email.) The next step is to make connections! Building Business Relationships is one of the best ways to grow your business, and networking is the most effective marketing method for developing new opportunities and contacts. It's a way for you to make the "It's not what you know, it's who you know" work for you.
Networking usually happens in the form of the traditional face-to-face meetings and gatherings run by organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Entrepreneurial groups, or Civic organizations. You may also do some networking in social settings (though I discourage ANY selling in these settings), you never know when you might meet your next big fan, referral partner, or client.
Before you go to another networking opportunity, think about the following points:
Intention: This is your "why." What is your intention for attending each networking meeting? Do you want to meet 4 new people, have new sign-ups for your newsletter list, or arrange a few one-on-one coffee dates? How many referrals would you like to get? Go into the meeting with a goal/intention in mind and be prepared to share what you do, who you help, and how.
Quality: It is not the quantity but the quality of the connection that counts. Though you may walk into a meeting and hand out your business card to every person in the room, you may only connect with a few. That is OK, it's actually preferred. Remember you are here to build relationships not to win over every person in the room. The quality of the relationship you build will be worth much more and will build your business in the long run.
Following up: After attending meetings or gatherings, set aside time to send out an email to those you just met. Take it one step further and call or set up one-on-one meetings. This will give you a chance to speak about your business, share what you offer, find common interests and find out how you can be of service to each other! Helping others as a resource can be more valuable in building your business than anything else. When you're comfortable that you've created a rapport with this person, you can start asking for referrals or "selling" to them.
Consistency: Choose your networking activities wisely and focus on groups of people who you feel you have a connection with and can be of the most help to grow your business. Successful networking is largely based on consistency, so attend meetings regularly, remember names and keep it personal.
Clear intentions, quality connections, following up, and consistency are all keys to building business relationships.
Remember to always stretch your boundaries!
Check out this article and follow these tips to help understand why Networking is a major key to success!