get business ybkbs magazine for small business
By Staff Writer, (Based on ‘The Fresh Perspective’, by Marc W Ford MBA)

Let’s look at one of the cheapest ways to boost your business status and marketing with networking.

Networking meetings and groups can be good…it can be also be bad, but I want you to take it by the horns and wrestle it to the floor like a Greek God all oiled up and wrestling in the Olympics.

Networking is not a dirty word. Networking is one of those ‘buzz word’, (and I do hate ‘buzz words’), we all hear all of the time.

“I’m going networking…”; “I’ve just been networking with, blah, blah…”

Unfortunately for many business owners, it evokes powerful images of standing around a room with a lot of people you don’t know, feeling awkward and unsure. Networking is really just an excellent way to build a business. It can be cheap, it’s instant and it doesn’t require a lot of exceptional skills.

Networking is about communication.

Feeling awkward when meeting new people can be challenging but there are many simple techniques to make it easier. I learned a lot of my communication skills from a book I read at least once a year, ’How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie. Another great book to read will be ‘Top Dog: Impress and Influence Everyone You Meet’ by Andy Bounds and Richard Ruttle. The titles sound a bit manipulative but they really aren’t.

They are books about communicating and the lessons learnt from those pages can be used time and time again, every day of the week. The end result will be that you will become a better communicator and you will find networking much easier.

The next part of the process is to go to a networking function with a clear goal. Be specific. Your aim here is to meet people who might be potential customers or who might be able to refer business to you.

Consider a few things ahead of time.

Think about how you will introduce yourself and what you sell.

If you meet someone who could become a customer or business associate how will you arrange to follow up?

How will you end the conversation so that you can move on and meet other people without offending the person you are talking to?

I know some entrepreneurial types who sit down and write a networking plan before they go to these functions, and they get excellent results. It is a business opportunity, not a social event, and they treat it as such.

Networking, even in the ‘golden’ technology age we are in…is here to stay. The better you are at it the more business you can attract.  Go into any networking situation with an open mind and with a plan of attack.

So….What can you do today?

There are two things: the first is to buy copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People and Top Dog: Impress and Influence Everyone You Meet. They will give you some excellent ideas on dealing with people and if you apply them your networking will become much easier.

The next thing you can do right now is to plan your next networking opportunity. Think about how you will introduce yourself, what questions you will ask the people you meet, and how you will excuse yourself when it is time to move on and meet someone else. By simply being prepared you will find that networking can change from a chore to an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

So, let’s talk about the 90 Days of Networking – Let’s Fast Track Your Results. Networking with other business owners will forever be your most cost-effective option for attracting new leads.

There is little outlay and the return can be significant.

Every move in making a connection with a prospect has one purpose – to compel them to take the next step. Whether that step is to supply your organisation with ongoing referrals, add them to a newsletter database or purchase a product is not important – the individual must act.

To truly fast-track your results book yourself into attending as many networking events as you possibly can for a 90 day period.

This achieves several results;

  • Consistently puts you in front of potential prospects
  • Builds your database (remember to offer them your ‘SAMPLE’)
  • Creates much-needed exposure and credibility
  • Builds critical mass for your business to launch itself from

Inconsistent marketing campaigns fail to generate much-needed results as the business is seen as an ‘inconsistent distraction’ in your marketplace.

By continually getting out in front of your ideal customers and clients by networking at key events that you know they will attend, you not only force your way to the front of their mind but you also plant the seed for them to purchase from you in the future.

It’s a longer-term strategy, but you may be surprised at a number of quick wins you attract by just turning up and networking properly.

What can you do today to get the business you deserve?

I want you to schedule in at least 10 events for you to attend within the next 90 days. Once listed, add this to your overall marketing schedule that should be part of your KPI’s that we did at the very beginning.

Now….before to going on ‘90 DAYS OF NETWORKING’ follow the steps below to ensure you have all of your bases covered first and the potential for results are maximised.

Fundamental No.1: Purpose

You must identify your purpose for networking, with the ultimate goal of going from connections to monetisation. (i.e. someone actually buying from you).

The biggest challenge businesses face is that networking isn’t taken as seriously as marketing. Networking is marketing, too, and must be outlined to keep individuals on task and focused.

When attending events, offer your ‘SAMPLE’ as a way to put people into your lead stream.

Be sure to add those of whom have consented to be in your database, onto it the very next day. Strike while the irons hot or it will burn you later.

Fundamental No.2: Message

You must clearly define the message you are taking to market to ensure it aligns with your customers’ values and, most importantly, that your team’s messages match and represent the larger organisation.

Miscommunication can destroy even the most earnest effort to make an influential first impression. If the message wavers and is unclear, potential customers and clients will be unaware of your team’s role in the bigger picture.

Revisit the podcast or video on crafting your message.

This is the message you will repeat consistently.

Practice, practice AND…..then…practice some more.

Fundamental No. 3: Presence

Your team must be memorable, and the only way to achieve this is through presence, which builds credibility, trust and connection with prospects and existing clients.

The identity of “self” is a basic facet of effective networking.

A team that lacks self-confidence and presence will feel the pain in sales results time after time.

By discovering their identity, when staff or you approach a networking situation they will have an innate confidence that connects and produces larger-scale positive outcomes.

Now go out and network, network, network!

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