Networking is About Relationships, Not Making the Sale
Posted 8 years ago on · Permalink
Karen Fischer – RK Fischer & Associates
When someone starts a business or begins to grow their business, networking can be a key ingredient to their success; as people buy from people they know and trust. Unfortunately many business owners use their networking time to sell and miss the point that networking is more about meeting and getting to know people while growing your network, not selling your product or your service. If you are only selling at a networking event, you are missing the mark. If you are there only to sell, you “might” make that one sale, but you have missed out on the potential of many ongoing sales from referrals from the people you did not take the time to meet and spend the time to get to know.
Networking does not provide instant gratification, it takes time to build relationships and trust. If I refer a client or contact to someone else’s business, this is putting my stamp of approval on that business and reflects not only on myself, but my own business. If the relationship or business transaction goes badly, this could affect what the client or contact thinks about me. This is why I will only refer clients and contacts to those businesses where I have a trusted relationship. When an individual or business makes a referral, you should see this as the highest form of praise. This means they trust you, so they are willing to take a leap of faith in you and your business.
What you do and the quality of your products and service are important, but most significant is that you spend the time with the individuals with whom you are networking, so they get to know you first. As they get to know you, they will learn more and more about your business and the products and the services you provide. If you are aggressive and are shoving a business card in their face on the first meeting trying to sell your product or service, there is a good chance you not only wasted that opportunity, but could lose out on other potential opportunities. Business owners and ongoing networkers talk among themselves and that image will be the one that resonates and will be the one top of mind.
I very often read and hear business owners say, “Networking does not work, and is a waste of time”. If performed correctly, it most certainly can be the greatest source of your best leads for your business. Referrals are the number one source of leads for our business, with second being online marketing.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- You have to be approachable. Watch your body language. Have a smile on your face, your head held high and make sure your arms are not closed.
- Do not be overly aggressive, this will turn most people off. You will most likely find they will stop listening to you and are looking for the first available time to exit.
- If you are shy, possibly go with another person who is not. You cannot always wait for those to approach you, you have to take some level of initiative.
- Take your business cards with you and make sure they contain the necessary contact information. Also make sure that the card lets the reader know what your business does, as they may forget after they leave the event. Only provide business cards when they are asked for or when there is a mutual discussion for an exchange.
- When you talk about your business, make sure you portray the benefits to the business or consumer in your target market. Make sure the other person is aware who is included in your target market.
There are many other tips that can apply to networking, but hopefully this gives you a few basic tips. If you would like to learn how to be a better “Networker”, contact the APBOT and sign up for the Networking Primer workshop which is available on a monthly basis.
Karen Fischer is a Business Consultant, Coach and Advisor with RK Fischer & Associates, a small business advisory, consulting, and coaching firm. Our focus is on helping small business owners grow which means increasing revenues, improving cash flow, reducing expenses, and helping you make your business more efficient.