The #1 reason businesses “network” is to increase leads to the business and make more money. When you ask a small to mid-size business owner where “networking’ ranks in importance in their marketing plans most will always say it’s in the top 3-5 strategies.

So, if the #1 reason businesses join the chamber is for networking (to grow their business) and networking is one of the top marketing strategies…then it begs the question: What are leaders doing, reading, seminars attending to increase their knowledge and skills in networking?

Here are some tips to make your networking a home run marketing strategy…

Three Phases of Effective Networking:

1. Pre-Networking

  • Be clear on ideal customers
  • Be clear on USP – you’re unfair advantage or point of difference
  • Identify the best networking functions to attend (ask chamber staff based on your ideal customer)
  • Set goals for how many new prospects you’d like to meet at the event
  • Arrive early- greet arrivals and find ways to add value

2. During Networking

  • Top 4 things that must exist if someone is going to buy from you: They must like you, believe you, have confidence in you, and trust you (if all four exist, they may buy from you. If any one of the four is missing, they will never buy from you.)
  • Of these four things (like, believe, confidence, and trust), like is the most important. It is the “ticket in the door”. A prospect must like you before they will ever believe you, have confidence or trust you. No one ever says, “I trust that person but I don’t like them…”
  • The way to establish likability is by focusing on the other person. Find ways to connect emotionally. Use questions like “where did you grow up?” rather than “Where are you from?” Remember “no puking” and “no wee-wees”. Script some questions like: “what is the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?” Drill down with questions like: “Who could I introduce you to that might help you accomplish that?” Remember networking is “net-working”, not net-socializing, net-drinking, or net-hanging out with people you already know!
  • Be clear and focused on meeting potential ideal clients (those you described in your plan) and people that might know and could introduce you to your ideal client.
  • Develop strategies for moving into and out of conversations. Develop a script- be up front with people: such as- “It’s been great meeting you. I’m going to move around the room to meet some more people. If I meet someone you’re looking to meet I’ll track you down for an introduction… Will you do the same? Great”.
  • The “close” in networking is to get an ideal target to agree to a one-on-one follow-up meeting. Get a very specific commitment if possible.

3. Post-Networking

  • Prompt follow-up (Have a system for same day if possible.)
  • Send a personal note by mail! (The average worker in the U.S. gets 52 emails a day and over 50% are deleted without opening. 6 billion individual pieces of mail are delivered each year in the U.S. – 75% are thrown in the trash without opening. But, over 90% of handwritten, hand addressed notes are opened and viewed – which statistic do you choose?)
  • Schedule follow up meeting when you said you would
  • Networking effectively is an acquired skill- so practice, practice, practice. You will not feel completely comfortable at first -push past it!
  • Word of mouth advertising (most often through “networking”) has long been recognized as the most cost effective form of marketing a business can use. But, in order for it to be effective you must be just as engaged , thoughtful, strategic and systematic as you are with any other form of marketing.

For more free tips and strategies on how to grow your business with more effective marketing, click here to request a complimentary marketing session with a member of our coaching team.