Do not underestimate the power of networking

One of the most commonly named reasons by my prospective clients for not having a marketing strategy in place is budget. However in the age of social media, networking and word of mouth have become very powerful tools and they offer small and medium size enterprises a cost effective way of developing their sales opportunities.

Face to face networking opportunities abound around England through networking events with your local chamber of commerce, Business Link and professional institutes but also industry events, trade shows to name but a few. The rule of the game is simple. The more you attend those events and you are seen, the more familiarity and trust you will gain.

Over time you will build a network of contacts that may become your customers.  The more people you meet, the more business opportunities you will come across. You will also meet other players in your industry and as these relationships grow, so will your grasp of your market.

With successful networking come a few ground rules:

Before the event

  1. Diarise events. Identify events that will bring value to what you do and sign up for e-updates so you don’t miss out. Those events could include trade shows, business networking events and workshops – best of all many are free!
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Be clear about what you want to achieve at the event and what message you want to give. Review the list of attendees if it is available and research the people you may want to talk to. Make a list to make sure you meet them. It is easy to getting sucked into the event and coming away feeling you have not meet the people you would have like to!
  3. First impression count. So make an effort on how you present yourself; this ranges from your choice of clothes down to perfume.  This applies to both men and women

During the event

  1. Relax. Arrive at the event on time with plenty of professionally produced business cards.
  2. Be interesting remember no one likes a hard sale! Use your well rehearsed 5 minutes speech to make a positive impression; this in general how much time you have to grab your fellow attendees’ attention.
  3. Listen. Networking isn’t just talking about you. To build a relationship with others it is important you truly engage with the person you are talking to.
  4. Do not make any assumptions.  Engage with all the people you come across even if on the face of it there is no connection between your organisations. They may know someone who know someone…
  5. Be spontaneous. Respond positively to information you are given and gain your new contacts trust by looking for ways to support them. It is amazing how much you can find out from people and ways in which you can assist.
  6. Make a good impression. Don’t forget to thank the people around you and the organisers for the event if it applies.

After the event

  1. Develop the link you have made with your new contacts. Send a note to thank your new contacts and forward any information you have promised them. Equally remind the person of a promise they may have made to you.
  2. Exceed your new contacts expectations! When you email them, join an interesting article, point out a helpful website or share more tips about a subject you talked about.
  3. Commit to regularly attend other events. It is truly a small world and the more people see you and hear your name, the more they will trust you and respond positively to what you offer
  4. Don’t keep all your contact to yourself. This is where the power of Linkedin, Twitter and other social networks kick in. You may be able to introduce your new contact to someone from your network or refer someone from your network to this person.

Most of all, enjoy it! Your fellow networkers are no different from you and me. Communicate and you are guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised by the return on your time commitment!

Category: Events, Marketing Tools, Social Media Marketing, Strategic Marketing Comments Off on Do not underestimate the power of networking

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