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INCREASING YOUR SALES THROUGH NETWORKING

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Networking Event


What Networking Is and Is Not

If you are looking for a quick fix to increasing your sales funnel, then networking is not for you. When most people think of networking, they automatically think the focus is to go and “sell” themselves and their business. If this is you, then you need to rethink.

The goal of networking is to build trusting and long-lasting relationships, which over time will definitely increase sales for your business, but not in the way you first thought. If you watch someone at their first networking event, they usually have a stack full of business cards, marketing materials, and maybe their product if they can carry it. They will also be up in your face telling you what they do and thinking if you need their product or service – surely you will call them because now you have their materials. Little do they know, those materials will find their way to the nearest trash can passed by on the way out of the event.


Referrals

In many cases, the individuals you meet at a networking event will not be your direct customer but could add more value than any acquisition of a single customer. The best people to meet at a networking event will provide referrals and leads to your business. They will do so because they have built a trusting relationship with you, so trust that you will provide quality products and services to those they refer to your business. This type of sale is worth its weight in gold because it is qualified and comes with an instant stamp of approval from the referring party.


Partnerships Opportunity

Another example of a valuable networking relationship is a partnership you forge with businesses providing complimentary products and services. This type of relationship is a win/win for both companies because, over time, leads will go back and forth between the businesses.

Why Not Focus Only on Direct Customers

It is not to say you won't obtain any direct customers from networking, but if this is the reason you joined and you are expecting a quick turnaround, then you should look for another way to generate leads. If this were the primary goal, it would not be cost-effective. Once you sell to someone, unless you have a product or service that has a recurring revenue model – this is a one-time sale most likely and then what? If you are spending a few hundred dollars a year to belong to a group, you want to cast the widest net through referral or partnership business, as both are repeat and ongoing revenue.


Tips for Networking

Join the Right Group and Get Involved

Research the networking group before you go to ensure that people that attend that group are those that include your target market or those that sell or come in contact with your target market. Example: If you sell to businesses and the group is full of real estate agents and financial planners, there may be a better group for you. Participate in different types of events and even volunteer for committees. Getting involved and participating in committees and smaller venues within a networking group will help shorten the cycle. Getting to know smaller groups of people you work with and seeing them more regularly is easier. Attending one event at a networking group will not get you to your goal. You will need to continue attending to get to know the right people.


Understanding Your Business and Target Market

Before going to an event, be able to articulate what your business does, who your ideal customer is, and what makes you unique or stand out from others in a similar industry. This exercise could be as simple as providing superb customer service. You should be able to say this in 30 seconds. Know how to define your target customer distinctly. Do not say everyone because you know that is not true. Imagine in your mind if you could describe the best customer target for your product or service. What would that perfect customer look like? If you sell to businesses: Are they a specific type of company, size of the company, or are they from a specific geographic region? If you sell to consumers: Are they in a specific age group, sex, or socioeconomic bracket?


Business Cards and Marketing Materials

Take business cards with you and ensure that your business card contains the information the prospect needs to know who you are and what your business does. Only hand out business cards to those that ask for one. Giving a business card to everyone is a waste of time and money you spent on your cards. You will go into their global spam email database. Also, do not collect cards from others that are useless to you and your business. Collecting business cards which are not of use is not the purpose of networking. When you ask someone for a business card, write on the card why the contact is essential so you remember later. If you ask for a card, follow up with an email and if it is worthwhile, schedule a meeting time to meet outside the group.


Only take and hand out marketing materials at a networking event if a table is set aside for this purpose. Remember, people are not there to buy. If someone wants to know more, then follow up and email them additional information. This is an excellent way to stay connected. Ensure you have a website and marketing materials so your network can point out or send prospects more information on your company, products, and services.


Other Opportunities

Provide discounts to those in your networking group, as this is an excellent way to help get you noticed. You may be making less, but you are getting return business and consistent customers. Make sure that you can afford the discount you are providing.


Speak at events that your networking group puts on. This is one way to get yourself and your business is known while building awareness and credibility.


Summary

Do not get discouraged. It will sometimes take up to a year to see the reward of networking, but it is one of the best ways to get quality leads and build lasting relationships. If you want to learn more about how to network correctly, you can do so using our advisory services or business coaching, and one of our coaches can help you determine how networking can help your business.

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