Marketing. It’s all about getting as many eyes on your business as you possibly can.
Are you covering all of your bases?
• Website … check!
• Social media … check!
• Advert in the paper … check!
How about networking?
• Errrmmmm …
Okay, so online marketing is great. And over the years, online networking platforms such Linked-In have become an invaluable business tool when used to their best advantage.
But if you’re overlooking actual face-to-face networking, let me tell you, you’re seriously missing out.
‘Marketing’ is simply making connections with humans on an emotional level. That’s why customers and clients will buy from YOU and recommend YOU before somebody else. And what better way to make that connection than face-to-face?
There’s simply no substitute for a direct personal connection with someone who trusts you and the value you bring.
The Power Of Networking
I won’t deny that face-to-face networking takes more effort than simply adding ‘Becky from Sales’ to your Facebook group. But the return on investment can be so huge, that complaining will be the last thing on your mind.
The very act of meeting people face-to-face gives you the opportunity to have more meaningful exchanges. It can deepen your business connections and boost your credibility massively. This ability to gain and maintain real trust is priceless in today’s virtual business world.
So, what can you expect to gain from face to face networking? Networking can bring you:
• New clients
• Unique ideas
• Extra opportunities
• Improved solutions
• A reputation for integrity
• Fresh talent for your team
• Grass-roots market research
• Information about competitors
• A deeper awareness of your industry
• A great social life!
In essence, it can give you a whole new ‘sales team’ of networking connections that are only too willing to recommend you! There’s little more powerful than word-of-mouth recommendation and referrals. It’s the original form of viral marketing.
How To Network Effectively
Networking doesn’t have to be a bunch of fuddy-duddies huddled around the jar of Nescafe. Nor is it limited to long golf-days with a senior team of people you just don’t like.
Networking can be done anywhere, anytime, with anyone you meet. In the canteen, the back of an uber, during a conference, over lunch or at a traditional networking meeting such as those run by the world’s largest referral marketing organisation – BNI.
Wherever it happens, the same rules apply to making your new connections meaningful.
Here are our top 10 tips.
1. It’s not all sales, sales, sales. Effective networking is about the long game.
2. Think about your first impressions and reputation. Honesty always!
3. Always give value and deliver on your promises.
4. Be proactive and generous in opportunities, sharing any introductions that you make.
5. Be interested and actually care. Listen and take notes as you chat.
6. Quality over quantity! Don’t just collect a tonne of cards in order to spam people.
7. Stay in touch. Not with just one follow up email. Networking is just the beginning of a potentially lifelong business connection, so don’t drop the ball.
8. Don’t only connect with people that are like you. Get out of your comfort zone and look for diversity. It’s the key to a whole new world of opportunity.
9. Don’t overlook people who are new to the industry. You never know where they’ve worked in the past or where their career might take them. And they’ll remember your kindness if you bring them value without expecting something in return.
10. Don’t feel nervous. You might not be the worlds greatest communicator and/or feel nervous, but go ahead and reach out. The rewards could be huge.
When nurtured properly, your networking connections will essentially become your external sales team. They’ll know you, trust you and recommend you. And that is so powerful in this age of faceless digital business.
The Bottom Line
Still undecided? Remember that networking is not only for sales-people or those at a senior level. Nor are networking groups full of people who are suited and booted. You’ll find dozens of tradespeople and sole traders at these events too. If your business is worth marketing, you should be networking.
There’s no secret formula. You just need to show up, make a connection, leave a great impression, stay in touch, give value generously and actually CARE. Because if you don’t, your competitors will.
If you’d like to know more about networking events in the Manchester area – feel free to contact us.