Let’s not beat about the bush: we all go networking because we want to sell our business and services, and in doing so, gain new customers/clients. That is the main reason we do it.
That said, in doing so, we make connections with fellow business people, make friends, learn from other people, gain the trust of each other, and ultimately give others the confidence to do business with you, and/or refer you to others.
It’s quite simple really. But, of course, there is much more to networking than that, including consistency in attendance, a good 60 seconds pitch for your business, and the following-up of new connections, possible leads, and hot referrals.
Following-up is definitely what makes a successful networker.
First of all, if you get a referral, be quick to chase it. If it’s a warm referral, ask the person who passed it on to you how they can help you turn it into a hot one. But follow it up sooner rather than later, because by delaying the contact, you might lose the potential business.
But more than that, following up involves building the rapport and trust among fellow members of your networking group. At BforB, for instance, we encourage our members to connect on Linked In, and to arrange 1-to-1 meet ups after, or away from, fortnightly meetings.
Sure, you see regular faces at the BforB meetings, and strike up goodwill and banter with many of them. You listen to their pitches, their Spotlight presentations, and take note of their testimonials. Which is great.
But as a regular at a networking group, you really firm up the rapport by meeting up with fellow members away from the meeting room environment. For a start, you might find you have plenty more in common than you thought, such as a shared passion for a sport, a band, or an interest.
By meeting in a 1-to-1 format, you have the opportunity to really get to know the person, and their business; what motivates them, what kind of referrals they are looking for, what can you learn from each other’s experiences. In some cases, there may well be professional synergy, and with it the opportunity to team up and work together, supporting each other’s talent and services.
At one BforB group, there’s a financial adviser, a mortgage adviser, and an estate agent, who have teamed up, and now working brilliantly together, and sharing business opportunities. Indeed, since joining BforB the mortgage adviser has quadrupled his business in a year, which is awesome.
So there are many merits of doing more than turn up to a networking meeting, but to follow-up opportunities that arise, including referrals, but in particular, getting to know fellow members, knowing what opportunities each other is looking for, and building up relationships for the greater good.
Ultimately, we are all looking to win more business. It’s why we network!