As a business owner it is up to you to lead your team and set yourself apart from your competitors. One way to accomplish this is to build your circle of connections through networking. The more consistent you are in participating in various networking groups the more likely you are to connect with different business owners who will get to know you and then will learn to trust you. This is when it becomes what I call the “sweet spot” in the networking world. As you build trusting relationship and expand your network, your circle of contacts will become a walking billboard for you and this is when your business starts to grow incrementally.
Most businesses will want to do business with a local company they trust. If you do not position yourself in this opportunity then you will miss the large referral network that is prominent in B2B sales market. Networking is the initial stages of the relationship. To increase your effectiveness after your initial meeting, it will take effort and time on your part to massage the newfound relationship into a full-blown partnership. This will come as you set up one-on-one meeting to learn more about each other’s companies as well as learn more about each other as individuals. In order for most people to feel comfortable referring business to you they need to first be comfortable with you as a person. Once personal trust is established, business people need to believe in the brand/product that the your company is selling. Taking the time to build this business relationship over time on a consistent basis will allow the opportunity to educate one another, show proof of product, and then develop into business opportunities for both parties in this relationship.
Conversely, there is such a thing as networking gone wrong! If you are going to put yourself in environments to meet new people, you need to do something with the business cards that you collect. Most of us are surely guilty of having a pocketful of business cards that you set on your desk and promptly forget about them. This is becomes a missed opportunity that you will unlikely be able to recreate. It is important that within 24-48 hours that you put forth the effort to make contact in some way to these opportunities. The other business owner/decision maker will then see you as the leader in your partnership and also will know you are serious about doing business. In addition, as you become a master networker, you will begin to recognize various people at multiple networking groups and you want to be viewed as the person to connect with - not the one who never follows up.
You have the ability to create a consistent referral source for your business by a few simple steps. 1. Get out and meet new people and collect contact information. 2. Follow up with each contact that you qualify through your initial meeting within 24-48 hours of initial contact. 3. Build your relationship through consistent touches, and 4. Refer your contacts to their businesses and they will refer to you!
Have fun networking! It provides an opportunity to learn!