Business networking can be very simple and profitable activity for you to do to get more work for your business, it can also be very frustrating and a waste of your time depending on how you do it
What is business networking?
Business networking is a simple marketing strategy by which business opportunities are created through networking / association with like minded business people.
Types of business groups:
o Your own circle of friends and associates
o Business associations – most industry types have their own association that you can go to
o Purposely structured business referral groups – there are many professional organizations – check your local area and see who is operating
o Start your own?
o Low cost dependent upon activity – if you join a structure referral group membership fees and costs can be quite reasonable.
o Mix with other like minded business owners.
o Learn new ideas and hear about what other business owners are doing.
o Support network
o Develop new friendships.
o Generate business leads from word of mouth advertising – if you are in a referral group and say there is 20 members; it's like having 20 salespeople work for you for free
o Sole advertising – some groups only allow 1 industry type to be represented within the group (example: 1 carpet cleaning company), once you join you in effect lock out your competition from joining – meaning you have access to all leads for your industry.
Things to look for when considering groups to join:
o Check to see if your competitors are already there
o Most groups allow you to visit a couple of times before you have to commit – during this time take note of amount of business being passed through the group and the quality.
o Take note if the group looks to be more of a social group than a business referral group (unless you are looking for a social group?)
o Grab some members business cards and contact a few after the meeting to get their honest feedback and how profitable it has been for them.
Word of warning: if you are looking for a group to get more referrals from, and the results from the above tips gives you a negative feeling – find another group …
How to maximize your return from networking:
o Do not be pushy – spend time building rapport and finding out about other peoples businesses; it pays off in the long run ..
o Collect business cards from others you speak with – always follow up with a phone call or send them a thank-you card thanking them for their time – follow up with a phone call to arrange a time to drop out for a chat to find out more about their business.
o Provide leads to others – do not wait for leads to come to you, if you can provide leads to others straight away do so – it will come back to you …
Follow some of these simple tips and your future business networking will be more successful, enjoyable and profitable …