Networking in business helps you reach more clients and more importantly, share your lessons and successes with other business owners. This ultimately improves your confidence and reminds you to push harder regardless of the obstacles you face in business. Of course they're various other ways you can benefit from networking.
Here's how entrepreneurs and business owners leverage networking in their businesses.
#1- Build relationships
We leverage networking extensively in the firm. We try to have each attorney do at least 2 lunches per month with current and potential referral partners. We have a spreadsheet of the top 50-75 jobs that send us business and I have each attorney at the firm go down the list and see what slots they are missing so we can target new people to meet. We then ask everyone who else can I connect you with that will help your business? We then have 3-4 networking events per year to get our referral sources to meet each other to continue to build those relationships. Our view is that high seas raise all boats, and so by helping our referral partners to meet the other referral partners they are looking for we can all do more business and build more referrals for each other. Easily 90% of our business is referral based, so I could go on and on about this.
Thanks to Jordan Ostroff, Jordan Law Fl!
#2- Grow our customer base
Growing our customer base through our network's referral basis has worked greatly for us. Most of our sales come from warm leads through word of mouth. People feel a connection and engage based on trust more than anything else. Through various networking events, I try to leave a deep impression on people of myself and my business such that whenever they require handyman services, they think of us right away.
Thanks to Charlotte Ang, Fixwerks!
#3- Using social media groups for larger networks
There are countless groups in every social media platform that belong to industry-specific communities. These groups or forums are best for establishing and spreading your business existence to infinite number of people without any cost. Sharing your promotional contents, information, business news etc. in these social groups will ensure the largest exposure of your business through the widest network of social media. You can exchange business information to the people in your industry or related to your trade and create newer business relationships with other entities. Keeping close contacts and engaging your audience is easily possible through social media networks. Hence, I leverage networking for my business mostly through social media networks.
Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!
#4- A number of ways
Events are great for networking. You can meet prospective clients/customers, employers, employees, thought leaders, etc. Start by looking to see if they have a ‘who's coming/see who's registered' link on the website so you can look up who is attending and conduct due diligence on them through Google, LinkedIn, etc. Scan list & look for people with common interests/geographies/overlapping industries, etc. Drop an e-mail if you have contact info prior to event to introduce yourself & note overlaps, say you hope to meet them there. If you know people at the event or organizers ask them to point out people of interest/on your radar then you can meet them directly. Follow up after with note to stay in touch, connect on LinkedIn. My rule is that you should network in person during the business day and do it online after hours. People do business with people they know, like and trust so you have to get out there to build your reputation online and off. Prospective customers and jobs can come from anyone anywhere anytime so you should always be on your best behavior & make a great lasting impression. Be nice to everyone & make friends before you need them, you never know who is in or will be in a position to help! Cast a wide, net the more people you know the more referrals you can get down the road.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#5- Grow our brand and lead generation
There are many FMO agencies in the Medicare space being that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 daily. Rather than seeing these agencies as competitors, I see them as opportunities to grow our brand and lead generation. Most agents are licensed in specific states or with specific insurance carriers. Many times I will offer leads that I have received from organic traffic to these agencies if my team is not licensed to sell in a particular state or they will do the same for us. Sometimes a beneficiary may want a plan with a specific carrier but the agent they are speaking to is not licensed to sell for that carrier. In those cases we can recommend each other. These are great opportunities to establish strong relationships with others in the industry and help each other serve our demographic.
Thanks to Jeff Pitta, MedicarePlanFinder!
#6- Establishing and developing relationships
For me, networking is about establishing and then hopefully developing relationships, and it’s a never-ending endeavor. Sure, its cliché, but every relationship starts with hello and you never know where it's going to go. Too often, people approach networking as a business development activity, which just sets yourself up for outsized expectations and failure. It’s rare that the person you meet is the one who’s going to hand you some money. But it’s quite common that someone you meet will share an insight you can learn from, an introduction to someone who can be helpful in some way, or ask you your thoughts on a business challenge they’re facing. When you engage networking regularly as a human to human experience, not just business to business transaction, you’ll get more about of it. And, for what its worth, in my corporate public relations practice, my accountant, my insurance broker, my previous landlord and 99 percent of my clients came from these types of relationships, so it seems to be working out.
Thanks to Sam Butler, 35thAvenuePartners!
#7- Three ways
When I started my digital marketing agency, I had 1 client – my other business! I joined a BNI group as an invitation from one of my friends, which turned out to be a great opportunity. I was able to build relationships, gain authority and educate people. I network with people from a variety of industries, and teach them the value SEO and content marketing campaigns can bring to their business. This has allowed our fast-moving agency to identify what types of client are a great fit for us, and to focus our services on the businesses that we can help the most.
Thanks to David Sanchez, Mammoth Web Solutions!
#8- As a different sales pitch
One of our most decisive and highly converting channels is referrals/partner network. I saw an impressive stat for a software company I used to work for that 64% of their leads generated were through referrals. This was a $100m++ business. Ultimately, referrals and partners will look at you for the value that you present to them as either an individual or a company. It's a completely different sales pitch to the one you'd give to a prospective customer. Value to a partner could be monetary, or it could be more emotive, such as their credentials of knowing about the industry, or their existing relationships. You need to understand, as you would with a prospect, what their triggers are and what constitutes value to them. It's not always about money. Craft your referral/partner network well and it'll be your highest performing lead channel.
Thanks to Ben Mercer, Personify XP!
#9- Ask for testimonials
When I do work for someone in my network, I always ask for a testimonial that I can feature on both my website and my LinkedIn profile. I also insert these testimonials at the end of every blog post, and those I post on LinkedIn and Medium. I write up case studies for all assignments, then ask clients to tweet same to their followers. I cultivate other contacts by quoting them in my marketing posts, then asking them to share these with their networks. All my posts contain one or more illustrations, so when my contacts share the same, they give my work wider distribution.
Thanks to Mark Armstrong, Mark Armstrong Illustration!
#10- Create strong partners
In our business field, influencer marketing, human-factor is crucial. Be introduced from referrals and other professionals in our network is fundamental: In fact, a referred lead usually converts 10X more than a prospect that clicked cold display ads. This is why I personally look every month for new connections within the influencer marketing industry that can become strong partners that can help our business grow in the right direction.
Thanks to Alessandro Bogliari, The Influencer Marketing!