You’ve made your choice. You’ve decided to use business networking as a way of “getting” more clients, more referrals and more sales.
What are you “getting” yourself into?
You’re getting yourself into a process where relationship building comes first and business building follows.
Networking is the most effective face-to-face business building tool in existence.
Business networking is all about establishing and maintaining relationships that foster trust, friendship and referrals.
A referral is the act of introducing someone you trust to someone you care about.
People BUY from people that they like and trust. People give referrals to people they like and they trust.
Those who are ready, willing, and able to give referral leads want to know that you can be counted upon, and that you can be trusted to “deliver as promised.”
Now you know everything about networking there is to know.
You’re ready to jump in. You’re ready to make the most of every BUSINESS and social networking OPPORTUNITY.
You load yourself up with your business cards. You create flyers and brochures to serve as handouts. You practice your introductory “elevator” speech.
You get in your CAR You drive to the meeting location. You enter the gathering. You begin to follow your predetermined networking plan.
What is your business networking plan? What goals are included in your plan?
Whether you network to PROMOTE your business, get referrals or build a database, you must have goals. You must have a plan.
What is your networking plan? Is it written out?
You may ask, “Why do I need a written plan?”
After all—you may want to go to the event and just “schmooze.” (Schmooze is a technical term for friendly communication in a group setting).
The “all I want to do is schmooze a little” mindset is the companion piece to the selling strategy entitled, “I’ll just go into the appointment and see what happens.”
Effective BUSINESS networking, and effective selling, can certainly include some “schmoozing.” However, any expectation of consistent networking or sales results without a well-defined strategy falls into the category of wishful thinking.
Your networking goals should be clearly defined within your overall MARKETING strategy.
If you’re like most business people, you don’t have a marketing strategy. Most business people “wing it.”
Your networking strategy is clarified in your marketing plan. A written business plan includes a marketing plan component.
A well written business plan contains the goals and fully researched projections for your business. It is against these goals and projections that you measure your business successes and shortcomings.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
I believe that every business should have a written business plan. If you’ve not yet gotten around to the task of developing a full business plan, you can still develop a simple, stand-alone marketing plan, one that places the spotlight on business networking, on a SINGLE sheet of paper in an hour or less.
Decide on your networking strategy. Make the strategy simple, e.g. collecting names for your newsletter database.
Decide on your networking goals. An example of a networking goal might be, “Out of the people I talk to at the networking event, I will find three who have an INTEREST in receiving my newsletter.”
Please keep in mind that a well conceived marketing strategy does not equate to a business “quick fix.” As with any marketing or advertising plan you must have patience. Effective marketing is a process, not an outcome.
If you don’t have a networking plan, you’re not alone. 9 out of 10 of my clients ask for some assistance in formulating both a “do-able” networking strategy and an effective introductory “elevator” speech. http://goo.gl/767KQ8
If you are interested in receiving a set of questions that will make it easier to complete your simple marketing plan project,
Networking Success Tip from Ike – Write out your networking plan. Make your goals accomplishable. Commit to your plan and follow it.