Generating new business is an on-going activity and networking is a great way to do that. Most businesses benefit from referral or word of mouth marketing but it doesn’t have to be something that happens ‘by chance’. Rather turn it into a ‘by design’, regular activity. Here are my tips on networking and developing new business.
- Don’t underestimate face-to-face contact. Get out from behind your desk and computer and talk to people. If you’re not ready for strangers; begin by making a list of people you know in all the sphere’s of your life and set up to see them to talk specifically about your business and identify any requests you would like to make in those meetings.
- Create and practise your elevator pitch Imagine you step into an elevator (lift) and have just 3 floors to tell someone what you do in a way that has them want to know more – it must intrigue the listener and get you a further conversation with them. Make sure it’s succinct, 2 to 3mins maximum, and addresses a potential ‘need’ for the listener. Eg. How are you going to save them time, or money or make life easier for them?
- Review where you business has already been coming from and see how you can incentivise further business If a number of referrals have come from similar sources, look for ways to thank and reward those people (possibly with a free session, discount on their next order or a sample of your new product). Identify centres of influence where you could interact with more ‘ideal clients’ or the type of people who would refer business to you. Ask current and past clients if they have anyone they’d recommend to you.
- Follow up after meeting people. This is the simplest of actions that the majority of people ignore – a thank you and follow up after the meeting. Don’t just become another email in their inbox, look for new and innovative ways to follow up – perhaps send a card, or an article that was relevant to the conversation you were having. Or call and thank them. Look for ways to add value to them versus just wanting something for yourself. When you schedule the time to do the networking or meet people, also schedule the time to do the follow ups so you don’t get too busy and forget.
- Close the communication loop. Don’t just automatically add people to your database but perhaps send them your next newsletter with a personal note and invite them to join if they wish. Contact them via your preferred social media channel, such as LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you there. Add their details to your address book with any relevant notes so you can find them easily in future.
- Keep in touch. Trust isn’t developed in just one meeting, so you cannot attend one networking event and expect results. Make it a regular activity and put in the energy and you will reap the rewards.
Do share with me what’s worked best for you in networking and developing new business.
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