Networking is an effective way of prospecting customers and seeking out people who can help your business grow. It should be an integral part of every small and home-based owner’s marketing plans.
However, networking goes beyond the simple act of exchanging small talks and business cards. It is a way for entrepreneurs to connect with each other, and subsequently, leverage that connection for the benefit of each other’s businesses (“each other” being the key, not just yourself). You can attend all the networking activities you want, from your chamber’s meeting to a get-together of folks in your industry, but it needs to be mutually beneficial for it to work.
In the Forbes’ article The Four Questions at the Heart of Effective Powerful Networking, adept networkers such as most self-made millionaires approach networking by asking these four key questions:
- What are you seeking to accomplish?
- Who can help you achieve your goals?
- Why do they care?
- How are you going to get them to care about you achieving your goals?
The most successful networkers are able to translate these relationships in such a way that they end up wanting to help you accomplish your goals. One of these goals may be to help you increase your sales.
If you wish to use networking to help you sell, Julie Chance suggests several steps to approach networking in a way that is most effective to building relationships in her article Focus on Building Connections, Not Closing Sales:
- Understand that developing a network is a process, and it is about building relationships.
- Become a problem-solver and a resource
- Practice the fine art of questioning (and listening)
- Be curious
- Follow up and stay in touch
- Arrive early, stay late, and get involved
- Focus on giving, not getting.
- Don’t keep score.
For more information on how to network effectively for your business, check out our Networking and Word-of-Mouth Marketing section.