One sure fire way to ramp up business for SME’s is through networking. Networking provides a great opportunity to meet several prospects in one hit.
If it is not part of your marketing strategy it should be.
A good network will:
You may meet potential business partners and you might also meet a connector. They may not use your service/product but impress them and they will recommend you to others. You can also get a feel what is happening locally or get updates in your area of expertise.
Not everyone is a fan of networking but by taking yourself out of your comfort zone you can reap the rewards. If you are new to networking try and find a local group and get meeting other businesses in your area. You can learn from other networkers and in a good group the manager will introduce you to others, so you are not standing at the back on your own!
How to ace face-to-face networking:
You will have between 30 seconds and a minute to present yourself and your product or service. Use your time wisely! How can you say in a memorable way? For example, I’m an accountant versus I help small businesses manage their money or I make magic numbers!
Know your intention for attending the event – ultimately it will be to get more customers, but some events will be designed to enable you to meet potential collaborators or people that can help your own business in other ways e.g. accountant, VA etc,. What you want to achieve when you walk out the door?
Bring your pitch, diary, business cards, brochures, samples, special offers and a smile! Take notes of who is there so you can make sure to speak to key people. Have them available to give to prospective clients/ business partners but only hand out information if they have asked for it.
The idea is to get to know people and build relationships. Be curious and interested in what they have to say and help if you can. By adopting this approach you’re more likely to feel relaxed and have more engaging conversations.
See each business card as being a £50 note. You wouldn’t shove it at the bottom of your bag and forget about! Send an email or call each person who gave you their business card. Whilst they may not be your ideal client/customer they may connect you to others. You can make the follow-up easier by preparing a follow-up email in advance. Ask to connect on social media or if relevant arrange a follow-up call or meeting.
Like any other part of your marketing you need to review the effectiveness of networking. Networking is a slow burn it can take time to build up these relationships. Consistently attending, following up and supporting your network will reap you rewards.
If you haven’t already crafted a pitch take some time to create one. Then find three networking events you can attend in the next month, so you can try it out and move your goals forward.
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