Business networking is one of those forgotten marketing strategies. The simple truth is that networking works for every business and every franchisee. It doesn’t matter what your business is, meeting other business owners with a network of contacts will help you in your business.
You may meet a potential customer or a potential supplier. You might meet someone that could be a strategic alliance for you (same ideal customer, but in a non-competing business). You might meet someone that could refer anyone of these above things. You could meet someone that has a skill or knowledge that could help you in your business. If nothing else, you will get motivated from talking with other business owners that will in turn help you in your business.
The reason most business owners don’t network is because of fear. Fear of networking. If you are fearful or it is out of your comfort zone, then great, you definitely need to go do it!
I do have one big tip for you so that you maximise this strategy rather than completely waste it and that is ‘Don’t get married at the pub!’.
What do I mean by this?
Most people when they go to a networking event they are in ‘sales mode’ and are trying to make a sale right there on the spot. This doesn’t work. It takes a bit of time and you will find that the networking event is where you meet people, but you will do the business after the event. I always suggest organising what I term a ‘coffee catch up’ with people to go from that initial first meeting to building a potential business dealing.
Think, you don’t go to the pub (or bar) on a Friday night to get married. You don’t rock up to the pub, meet some guy (or girl) and go ‘Hey you’re OK. Want to get married?’ The other person would think of you as insane (or extremely desperate) person and run a mile. Same thing if you try and do a sale right at the networking event. Too much, too soon.
If you met someone at the pub that you kind of thought you liked, then you’d ask them to catch up for a coffee or a drink right? Then at that coffee or drink date, you’d decide if you really did like each other and then perhaps you’d organise a proper date. From the date then you’d decide if you wanted a relationship and then from there you’d get married.
When you are networking, don’t try and get married at the pub! Networking is all about meeting people and seeing who you have a connection with or who has similar business interests and then building an ongoing relationship with, business of course.
Networking is not about who you can sell to in the room. Networking is about who is in the room that I can build a relationship with that has lots of people that they could refer to me. Most business owners miss the opportunity by looking for immediate response rather than long term results. I could make a sale to that one person in front of me (probably not, but ….) or I could meet 5 people who each have 100 people they could refer me to.
Networking is invaluable to your business. Yes, it will take time and effort, but you need to do it. Google business networking events in your area. Find one that looks of interest to you (or the most of interest to you) and then book in and go. Be nice, meet people, don’t sell, organise coffee catch ups to find out more about them and their business and vice versa and remember – don’t try to get married at the pub!
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