The Hidden Power Of Networking

The Hidden Power Of Networking



We all make use of​ traditional forms of​ getting new business in​ – advertising, direct mail, brochures etc but networking is​ one form of​ marketing which, has been under-utilised. Until now that is. Small business owners are finally beginning to​ under stand the​ power of​ networking and​ what it​ can do for​ their sales figures.

But what is​ networking?

In its most basic form, it’s word-of-mouth advertising but originated by you, not your customers. it​ involves taking every opportunity to​ raise awareness of​ your product or​ service amongst the​ people you meet. at​ a​ more sophisticated level, networking can be achieved by taking advantage of​ the​ formal networking groups or​ events that have been arranged purely with the​ idea of​ putting potential partners together.

But how can you, as​ a​ small business owner, become a​ more effective networker and​ take full advantage of​ the​ opportunities presented? We are going to​ give you some key tips and​ ideas on how to​ be a​ better networker.

What are the​ key advantages of​ networking?

Networking has some very good advantages over the​ traditional type of​ marketing:

• It’s free! Talking to​ someone costs nothing except your time

• It’s targeted marketing in​ that it’s likely the​ person you are talking to​ has a​ direct interest in​ your product or​ service. Consider newspaper advertising, which will mostly be read by people who have no interest in​ what you have to​ offer

• It’s face-to-face marketing unlike direct mail, adverts and​ telephone calls. You have the​ immediate opportunity to​ establish rapport and​ get an​ understanding of​ the​ person’s problems

• You have the​ chance to​ mix with business owners in​ other industries, which may open the​ door to​ new opportunities you had not previously considered

• It’s not only a​ way of​ creating business but also a​ great way to​ solve problems and​ seek advice. Why sweat over a​ solution when someone has probably already experienced and​ solved the​ same problem? Ask and​ find out who can help you

Where to​ find a​ network

Finding a​ place to​ network, where like minded business owners are present, is​ not that difficult. Whilst you should be networking all the​ time – taking the​ opportunity to​ promote yourself where ever you can – it’s more effective if​ you can meet people who are there to​ do the​ same thing; you can get onto the​ same wavelength that much quicker.

Here are some possible networking opportunities to​ think about:

• Your local Chamber of​ Commerce, BNI group or​ business club - as​ well as​ hosting their normal meetings (which are great networking opportunities anyway) they may hold regular networking sessions which are dedicated to​ putting business people together

• Government advice agencies – most countries have government bodies which have the​ remit of​ helping local small businesses, some of​ them may already hold network meetings where they bring together a​ batch of​ ‘new recruits’. Check out you country’s small business advice agency web sites to​ see what support they can offer

• Trade Associations – your industry may have an​ association which holds regular meetings. Although you are interacting with businesses in​ the​ same line you will still be able to​ find solutions to​ problems and​ pick up new ideas. Who knows, if​ you establish good rapport with another business, they may be happy to​ refer surplus work to​ you or​ tap into a​ unique specialisation you may have?

• Seminars – keep a​ look out for​ seminars being run for​ small business owners. as​ well as​ being informative, they are a​ great networking opportunity, especially over coffee and​ lunch when you have the​ chance to​ start a​ conversation going along the​ lines of, “How do you think you’re going to​ apply that point we learnt this morning in​ your line of​ business?”

In just this one question you will have found out what business they are in​ and​ one of​ the​ problems they are currently facing. if​ you’re lucky, you may be able to​ offer help as​ well – one extra sale!

• Anywhere and​ everywhere – remember to​ network all the​ time! Never miss an​ opportunity to​ tell people what you do. You may only get a​ successful hit in​ one out of​ a​ hundred contacts, but one sale may be enough to​ make it​ all worthwhile!

Where and​ when are meetings likely to​ be held?

Formal networking events can be held over breakfast, lunch and​ dinner. Breakfast sessions are popular because it​ allows business owners to​ start the​ day on a​ positive note, leaving the​ remainder of​ the​ day free for​ ‘business as​ usual’. But how good are you at​ holding a​ sensible conversation at​ 7 o’clock in​ the​ morning? if​ you don’t look or​ sound your best in​ the​ early morning, then you had better find an​ alternative!

The best networking events are where you are free to​ ‘work the​ room’ and​ not be tied to​ a​ table with food being served.

What to​ prepare

As with any marketing promotion, networking should be thoroughly prepared for. Badly presented sales pitches lead to​ lost sales; the​ same goes for​ networking. So what should you do before attending a​ networking session?

Step 1: Know your products and​ services inside out. if​ you are only just starting out, make sure you are fully briefed on all the​ inn’s and​ out’s of​ your product.

Step 2: Write and​ rehearse an​ opening statement to​ the​ question “What do you do?” This may sound an​ easy question but try thinking an​ answer on the​ spot and​ at​ the​ same time making it​ some good! Not so easy. Write a​ clear and​ concise statement, which encapsulates everything about your business. Remember, this is​ your chance to​ impress! Having decided on your opening line, rehearse, rehearse and​ rehearse. it​ has to​ be word perfect and​ confident sounding.

Step 3: Make sure you have enough business cards. You don’t want to​ scribble your number on the​ back of​ a​ napkin! Not very professional.

Step 4: Double check the​ venue and​ time. You don’t want to​ turn up late and​ miss any opportunities or​ appear to​ be lacking in​ time management skills.

Step 5: Dress to​ impress. Make sure you are neat and​ tidy – everything a​ successful small business owner should be.

Step 6: Leave your house/office in​ plenty of​ time to​ make sure you don’t arrive totally stressed out

You’re off!

You have arrived at​ the​ venue and​ if​ this is​ your first time, what are you likely to​ do? Find the​ nearest corner and​ pray that someone doesn’t approach you! Networking, especially the​ first time, can be nerve-wracking. it​ does take a​ degree of​ confidence but over time this gets better.




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