Network Your Way to Success
Many business owners – from graphics designers, mortgage brokers, and chiropractors to realtors, clothing boutiques, and more – find that networking is a successful way to build their businesses. If you’re not already doing so, consider adding networking to your marketing mix.
Here are some keys to networking success:
Determine Who You Want to Meet – Start by identifying your target market. Are you hoping to meet potential clients, or are you looking for the people who typically influence their buying decisions, potential strategic partners, and other possible referral sources?
Visit a Variety of Groups Before Joining – Most areas have numerous business networking groups. Visit as many as possible that spark your interest, to determine which are best for you. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Are people friendly and supportive? Is the leadership competent?
Be Prepared – Bring plenty of business cards, as well as your company’s flier or brochure. Many organizations have each attendee stand up and give a brief “advertisement” for their company. Be sure to practice yours in advance so that you’ll come across professionally when it’s your turn to speak.
Be a Giver – Bring value to the group and its members. Offer free advice or services, look for opportunities to make introductions, make a strong effort to refer business to the group members, and do whatever you can to help your networking partners succeed.
Follow Up Promptly – Follow up on all leads, introductions, promises to send information, and so forth within 24 hours. Be sure to send thank you notes to those who refer business to you.
Build Relationships – Networking is all about relationships. Once you’ve found the right networking groups you should attend regularly, learn people’s names, have one-on-one meetings outside of the group, volunteer for leadership positions within the organization and maintain contact with the people you’ve met.