Next to servicing the customers you have, there is nothing more important than getting new business. But where do you find new clients? What is the best way to network? Where do you start.
What is Networking
Generate good old-fashioned word-of-mouth by participating in networking organizations and events relevant to your industry and your customers. Be sure to approach networking with the attitude, “How can I help others?” rather than “What’s in it for me?” By thinking about how you be of service, you’ll build relationships that lead to new customers.
Best way to identify your networking targets
One should adopt a quality over quantity approach towards sales networking, though this might appear contradictory. Surely, you might ask yourself, if you’re starting out wouldn’t it make more sense to connect with as many people as possible? Well, while it’s possible to argue numbers have a quality all of their own, we maintain that you’re far better off focusing on making fewer but higher quality connections.
Do detailed research and invest time in finding people you’re certain will appreciate your product. You will be far better off contacting 10 leads that, given their interests, are likely to respond positively rather than 100 maybes or possibles. This is why spending time to make sure the lead has good potential is much more better than mass-blasting emails.
You have a different number of tools you can use to identify lead targets, some of which we’ll go into greater detail on, like LinkedIn. On the subject of emails, whatever you do, do not use the same template for every message. You need to individualise each of your messages to take the lead’s interests and business into account.
Useful tools to help you with networking can be:
- Carry a dairy to note new contacts and to be able to make appointments on the spot.
- Get business cards printed and distribute them freely while making sure that you collect cards from others.
- Develop the habit of always introducing yourself at social and work gatherings.
- Join and participate in activities of professional and other organizations and support groups.
Hints to follow when developing an effective network
The following procedure can speed up the network development process:
- Identify people and organisations among existing connections that are close to potential stakeholders
- Seek criticism, advice and suggestions on your product from these people
- Ask them for advice about contacts (at least two) to approach in target organisations, getting permission to use their names when doing so.
- Ask them what preparation is necessary before speaking with the target market contacts; make sure that you make the necessary preparations.
- Tell existing connections later how helpful they have been, thus cementing useful relationships.