In this episode, we discuss various ways to find networking opportunities and how to work those opportunities to grow your business.
Are you are local, regional, or national business? This will help determine the type of networking you want to do. Even if you are a national business, it is important to do local networking. This will allow you to built trust, practice your messaging, and generate testimonials.
Is your ideal customer a consumer or a business? Knowing if you are business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) type company will help you generate a networking plan that works best for your business. If you haven't listened to our episode on identifying your ideal customer, you can find it here.
This is how I built my business. Chambers are great for B2B because most of the people there are business owners. Other members are executives at larger businesses. You are not limited to just joining the chamber where you live or work. Most chambers will allow out of town members, especially if you service that area. Chambers are all about building relationships so be prepared to set aside time to go to events. Just being a member will not create business. You must build relationships. Some chambers also have great opportunities for B2C networking. Look for speaking engagements and other opportunities to show how knowledgeable you are.
Conferences are great networking opportunities. There are opportunities to speak, be a vendor, or just attend and network. Find conferences that your avatar will also be attending. The first time you attend a conference, you may want to just attend to get a feel for the conference. If you are a speaker, offer to send your notes to anyone who signs up for your email list. Set up a specific page on your website for the conference attendees and send notes or slides to subscribers from the conference.
Look for local events at your local library, farmers markets, parks, and other local places. These are great if your avatar is a consumer. If your avatar is a mom, figure out where moms hang out. Are there local play groups in the community where you can network with other moms? Think outside the box!
Trade and consumer shows give you the opportunity to exhibit to the attendees or to meet the exhibitors. If you are not exhibiting, talk to the vendors and get to know them. Do not try to sell to them. Get their business cards and follow up after the show. If you are an exhibitor, then sell! When participating in a show, know your role.
These are not direct sale opportunities. These are opportunities to build relationships and let people get to know you. Some of these take major time commitments so learn as much as you can about the organization. These groups allow you to build credibility in your community and it makes them want to do business with you. This allows you to make new friends and help your community as well, which is awesome.
When you network on Facebook, you are using your personal profile to interact with others. Make sure that your business is listed as your current workplace and that it links to your Facebook page. For more on this, check out out episode on Facebook profiles, pages, and groups. Make sure that your workplace is visible to people who are not friends with you (check your security settings).
You can guest blog or be a guest on someone's podcast. You can be on someone's Blab channel. Look for local media opportunities to write or be an expert. When approaching someone, get to know their brand and offer to help them share something they are working on. When you help people, people will be able to help you.
Find groups on Facebook where your avatar hangs out. Participate in those groups, but make sure you know the rules of the group. Many groups will not allow you to promote yourself or only allow you to promote yourself on a particular day. Be helpful and build relationships. It's also a good way to find other people to interact with.
(The 1st question has saved us hundreds of hours of wasted time)
We all have wasted time trying to sell to people before they are ready. So we came up with this simple system to guide our leads to sales and have included 21 questions you need to answer to make sure they are ready to make the sale.