How many small business networking events do you attend each month?
I’m a huge fan of online networking through Social Media, but in my opinion nothing beats getting out and meeting people belly to belly.
Recently I’ve moved to a new state knowing absolutely nobody (except online) and in the last 3 months I’ve met 100’s of other business owners, built tons of relationships and I’m generating business all from getting out to small business networking events.
Just 2 weeks ago I was considering skipping a networking event after working 12 hours that day, but went anyway. The next morning $2,500 was in my account from someone I met that night and needed a website created.
Obviously this doesn’t happen all the time and I’m a big proponent of taking time to build relationships, but networking does pay off fast.
It’s a fact, people do business (or refer business) to people they know, like and trust.
The other day I had a new coaching client share with me that their business had come to a complete stop and had no business coming in for December.
In October this business owner (who started only in August) generated $13,299 in new client work all from networking events.
This made this business owner so busy because they didn’t have systems in place yet to handle this amount of work.
Instead of outsourcing some of the work or partnering with other business owners to get the work done, this owner decided to not take the time to network and instead get the work done themselves.
Here’s the thing though, $13,299 in 1 month for a new business owner with little overhead is great. But now because they stopped networking they went to $0. Thus that $13,299 is all they’ve generated for October, November and now December. That’s only $4,433 a month compared to $13,299.
Networking is a continuous process that can’t be stopped.
Your business also needs to have processes in place to assure when you have max influxes of new business that you can handle the business with the best customer support and that it doesn’t prevent you from keeping your pipeline full.
The second you pull back from networking you ruin the time you’ve spent and any momentum you’ve gained. People need to see you repeatedly at events and opportunities might not happen for months, if not longer. Many times opportunities might not happen at all with the people you meet at these events, however when they see you consistently they’ll be more likely to refer you to someone they know. Word of mouth marketing is highly effective in growing your business and next to your existing customers, those you meet at networking events are just as powerful when they get to know you.
To make networking work effectively you need to do be able to clearly answer the question “what do you do”. You’ve got to have your elevator pitch down precisely without hesitation and without industry jargon.
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Also, always remember that you’re there to build relationships, not stab people in the face with your business card.
The real success in networking comes not only from attending events but what you do before and after the events.
Utilize social media to connect with people before events and to help continue the relationships after the event.
I also highly recommend utilizing some type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Nimble to help organize staying in front of your network. Whats great about Nimble is it performs social listening to alert you when you should reach out to a contact in your network. POWERFUL!
Here’s a quick infographic highlighting how to kick-butt at networking.
Share in the comments below how your business has benefited from attending networking events or if this has motivated you to start?