Business networking – the people
Business networking tips – Part 2 the people
How do you know which people are the ones you want to meet and build relationships with? Many people think that they want to meet their target customers and, for a few people this might work well. If you are selling products and services for the consumer / individual / family user (B2C) then it could be that anyone in the room is a potential customer or knows someone who is.
If you are selling to a broad range of other businesses (B2B) then you too may find that the percentage of potential customers may also be high. However, if you are operating in a niche market, as many people do, then the percentage of potential customers is likely to be much lower, possibly zero. So, what’s the point of going and networking?
Education: I’ve mentioned this elsewhere and it’s one to look out for – are there regular presentations as part of the networking group? Are they useful and valuable to you in developing your business understanding or your skills? Many educational events are built to improve your networking skills, which is only one aspect of business. In my first few months at networking events I learnt about online networking, blogging, internet and a whole host of other business issues. I have also had the opportunity to present to others, which not only raises my profile within those groups but demonstrates some of what I do as a presenter / facilitator.
Suppliers: Where do you go to find new suppliers? Other members of your networking group may well be your potential supplier or know someone who can help. Whether or not they offer preferential terms to group members is less the issue than the expectation that, as part of the same group, they will want to offer a good service so you can recommend / refer them on to others.
Advocates / referrers / collaborators: The majority of networking leads to building relationships with others with whom you might collaborate and identify opportunities to refer business to each other. And this is where you are likely to need to invest most of your time. As you hear others do their introduction, in whatever format is appropriate for that group, think about whether they might have connections which are useful to you and what you could offer them. If people are specific about the leads they are looking for – highly recommended – then providing them with a useful lead or contact will really help you to build the relationship with them. Do you think the two of you will get on? Schedule an initial meeting and get to know each other. As has been said in many different contexts, it is not just what you know but who you know.
If you want to know more about some of the skills you need to think about and how to develop those skills, talk to us about Business networking training or have a look at the Blog and feel free to contact us directly.