Networking with a Purpose

As a business owner, you understand the importance of networking.  A question worth asking yourself, are you making the most of your networking?   Let’s discuss 3 ways to improve your networking results.

Network with a purpose:  It goes without saying that you are networking to gain new clients; but realistically, you are not going to ‘sign’ a client at a networking event.  Therefore, it is important to define a specific objective for each networking event.  Is your objective to set a phone appointment, a face-to-face meeting, or to gain referrals?  Perhaps you simply want to receive permission to keep prospects updated by adding them to your newsletter.  You should be able to clearly state to an employee, partner or friend what your objective is for each event.

Go for quality conversations:  Setting a reasonable expectation as to how many conversations you would like to have will encourage you to focus on the quality of the connections, rather than quantity.  This will free you to focus on conversations that are most likely to lead to successful business relationships.  Another reason to focus on quality over quantity is that you need to follow-up to benefit from the networking.  This takes time and is one of the top challenges for small business owners in turning leads into clients.  The lead is cold after 10 days.  Learn more about trade show follow-ups.

Attend events where your next ideal client is:  The third and final aspect of successful networking is to be where your next ideal client is.  Clearly defining your ideal client is a powerful tool.  It gives you the ability to create your own decisive voice in the marketplace, the ability to connect with and truly engage prospects, and the ability to better serve your clients.  Best yet, your clients are likely to be passionate about your services and promote your business on your behalf.

The all too common error of trying to serve too wide a market is likely to result in watered down services, taking on clients who are not a good fit, and the inability to truly meet the needs of the wide base.  For assistance in defining your ideal client, reference Peter Lauterjung’s 5 Steps to Identify Your Ideal Customers.

After identifying your ideal client, focus on attending networking events where they will be.  Is your ideal client a home based business?  A woman in her 30’s?  A small manufacturing company?  A high tech company?  Do the research and find out where your ideal clients tend to network.  Ask your current clients what kinds of events they attend.  This is where you need to be.  If your ideal client is in a specific industry, you may be able to join that industry specific trade association as an affiliate.  A local example is the Pittsburgh Technology Company.  Businesses that support high-tech and/or advanced manufacturing companies can join as a Technology User Member.

Incorporate these three simple concepts into your next networking event.  Chances are you will relate on a deeper level with at least one prospect. Share your successes and additional tips with us on Facebook.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group ~ The Edmiston Group provides senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis.  Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

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