Networking and Its Benefits
by Glen Chapman
After a recent regional forum and discussions with a number of people, it seemed that there were a number of business people that were not taking advantage of the huge potential networking can offer a business.
Since moving from Brisbane to our regional city of Armidale, I have utilised networking as one of our top marketing tools. We don't have a huge marketing budget so we need to look at very cost effective methods of marketing within the local region.
So, when I first arrived I looked for just about any meeting which would have business owners, operators or managers at it. I had already arranged for business cards to be printed and went armed.
"Yeah, I do that" you say. Well what was your aim at the meeting?
A book I utilise regularly on this topic is "Endless Referrals" by Bob Burg. This book opened me up to an interesting change in thinking about people we meet. When I went to these meetings there were generally about 10 - 30 businesses and organisations represented. Now that on its own is a not a bad group. From four meetings that is potentially about 80 businesses or organisations (less double ups).
But maybe only 10% of these are currently looking, or have a use for your services.That brings it back to 8 businesses.
What Bob discusses is that when you meet these people you are not aiming to directly do business with them. People will only deal with you if they know, like and trust you, and that is what you are trying to build. But again not so you can sell them something.
Lets take the eight potential. Each of these businesses have been in the town/region for a considerable time and each know in the order of 250 people. If they know, like and trust you then as soon as any of these 250 need what you have, then that person is likely to refer them to you. So out of eight people we have a potential (based again on ten percent wanting your service) 200 customers that will come to you as a personal referral.
So that is the aim, now how do we do it? Firstly you need to think as generously as possible. What can you do for that business that will help them to achieve and succeed? What business can you refer them? What tool or tip do you have that will really make a difference to their business?
Here are a few things that we do to foster these relationships:
Find out the name of every contact you meet. The purpose of your business card is get their card.
Follow up each contact immediately after your meeting. Bob Burg sends a small postcard to each contact via the post. He sends them that night or day before he goes home. The US post does its deliveries at 12pm so each contact would get a personal note from you the very next day when they got to work. What we do now is utilise technology. When I get back from a meeting or conference I write a short personal email to each contact.
Subject: Bill, great to meet and discuss XXXX with you
Our conversation last night on XXXXX was really challenging. You had a real insight into it. As discussed here is that [link/document/idea] I mentioned. I found it when....
If there is any way that I can help with your business or you would like to discuss XXXX further, please give me a call.
Each of these emails are personal but don't have to be very long, But they remind them first thing about you and the conversation you had.
When you find something that might be of interest to a contact send it to them. I read a wide range of internet and print articles and if I come across a topic, program or idea that might interest them I past it on.
These are a few ideas to get you started. There are any number of other things you can do to foster business in your local region. We also utilise the internet by contributing to discussion forums and chat sessions and we give any number of pieces of free advice. We also put a link to our web page with everyone of these. Eventually people begin to see that you are genuine and start to visit your site.
(© 1995 – 2007 Glen Chapman)