In September I shared insights into marketing your business through networking. In particular we looked at if you are a net-worker or a net-beggar. I’d like to expand further on the power and importance of networking as a business tool.
Smart entrepreneurs network. They understand that networking is a key marketing strategy for business success and return on investment. They understand that networking is more about building relationship than just money in your business account. Ultimately that is where the return on investment comes from.
So what are the key marketing strategy indicators of the successful networker? Practice these simple steps and you are on your way!
1. Be prepared for every networking event.
Put in the work to understand the groups networking protocol and adequate. Every group, even online, house what I would call “rules of engagement”.
Someone should be direct and present what you need to clearly to the group. Other groups have more casual approach. Some are not OK with you handing out your brochures, or even your business cards initially. Some think alcohol beverages are fabulous while you network.
Don’t just show up and “see what happens”. Otherwise you will probably end up frustrated because you will be feeling like it was a waste of time, or wasn’t what you expected.
Smart Marketing Strategy: call the leadership of the group and ask a few questions! This way you will arrive ready to engage to get the best results.
2. Stop going to networking events “looking” for someone to buy what you do.
Yes, we all want new customers and clients! That is a core intention of getting out. Networking is all about degrees of separation, and building “know, like, and trust”. Utilize events like these to build a “power network”.
Think about who your best strategic partners are, who would make a great accountability partners for you, and other powerful relationships that would help you grow. Nurture these relationships.
Smart Marketing Strategy: ask people to help you find a certain strategic partner within the group. A simple question like: “I am looking for an accountability partner who is in a different industry yet wants to focus on achieving goals in marketing, would you know anyone”? Can help you expand and grow your business, while building know, like and trust.
3. Work to be a great listener and give more to others.
Yes I’m sure you’ve all heard that the goal is to give. And this is a difficult strategy! It’s really easy to listen to someone talk and in the back of your mind think: “wow, this person really needs what I sell”! Then as soon as they take a breath, you start talking about what you do. That will not increase your success! Listen and offer support without promoting your business!
Smart Marketing Strategy: Practice asking powerful questions like “what do you need?” Or “Who can I connect you with?” When you help others you create greater connection, and others then want to support you!
4. Make a commitment to follow up promptly!
This is the most important step to this marketing strategy. Whether in person or online, the key is to follow up. When you don’t follow up, you send a very clear message about your reputation…. and even more damaging? About how you treat your customers! You are impressive when you follow through, and you are more likely to be remembered by others.
This is how you increase referrals, and buyers. Ultimately this is what separates a wildly successful networker or from an average or as I’ve said, a net-beggar.
Smart Marketing Strategy: Make a commitment to select a minimum of three people to call and at least leave a message within 48 hours of the event. If they actually answer the phone, say where you met, and ask if you could have about 10 minutes of their time to follow up. Then email other people you connected with. Share something that would be helpful based on what you learned about them.
Sometimes entrepreneurs think that these strategies are different in person versus online. Guess what? They aren’t. Your ability to be helpful, connect, build relationships and be engaging still matter while on line.
Regular engagement online is a way to ensure others will support your needs when you ask. Do you take the time to respond to things that they share? To be empathetic? To laugh when they’re laughing? That’s engagement. I share a powerful story about following these simple strategies online and how it grew my business here. Besides, online connecting becomes a smart way to follow up with people you’ve met in person as well.
Smart marketing strategy when networking isn’t difficult, and there can be many great rewards! Next, time I am going to share another smart marketing strategy with amazing ROI!
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