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Networking can be an essential part of marketing for small business and can help find new customers enabling the business to grow. It’s about taking time out of your business to connect with other local business owners and build relationships that will turn into referrals.
Not everyone gets networking for their business and some can come across as being a networking butterfly. The key thing to remember is that not everyone you meet will need your products or services, but they may know someone that does. Likewise, everyone you meet might not offer what you need but you may know someone that does.
We have all met a networking butterfly in our time!
Networking butterflies are easy to spot. They are members of every free group both on and offline and have tried every networking option possible at least once. They often don’t commit to membership networking claiming they don’t have the time as their diary is so busy or that they have tried it and it didn’t work for them.
They often “hot seat” for free or look for free options as their first preference. They know everyone by name but never take the time to know the individual personally.
They normally sell sell sell with little interaction or referral of those they have met on the networking scene. Every had someone come up to you at a networking event and say sorry we didn’t get time to chat but here’s my card.
You could even be reading this thinking am I one of those?
If you are there is still time to change. Networking is a slow burner for local business owners. No one refers to people without taking the time to understand who they are and what they do. Some networking I have done for years before the right type of business has been referred and it’s been worth the wait.
You wouldn’t walk in a public venue such as a bar or restaurant and start spraying business cards around and expect people to buy your products or services. Or maybe you do?
How can you network your business successfully?
Build trust and a reputation as someone that knows their industry. Only by showing in person and online that you know your stuff will gain you referrals and new business.
Pick a group that suits your personality there are so many networking groups out there and note everyone suits every business. Try a few, research online what you think you might like then give them a go. If you hate early mornings then avoid breakfast meetings as you will eventually grow tired of the early starts. You can network your business at all times of the day so think which time suits you and then find a group that matches.
Don’t treat your networking membership like a gym one! Don’t sign up for a year and visit a few times then declare “it didn’t work for me” you have to make the time and commit and ensure you take time to get to know everyone in the group. You need to make the effort to turn up every meeting. When you sign up, put the dates in your diary for the year and keep them there only to be moved for mega business transactions.
Consider pre or post meetings with one of the members for a more in-depth 1-2-1. Doing this helps you to build relationships with others in the group.
Offer to present at your group, organisers are always looking for speakers and it is a great way to promote you and your business.
Lastly, continue your networking online, take time to share fellow networkers social media posts, comment and like. In return, good networkers will do the same for you.
If you would like to know more about networking come visit the 10-12 Business Club or sign up to our newsletter.