If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, networking is a great way to promote your products or services, increase your contacts and raise your profile in the local community leading to increased exposure and recognition, more referrals, and more customers or clients.
I know that networking can be scary for many people and the thought of walking into a room full of people you don’t know can make you feel like running a mile! The key to gaining confidence and getting results is to approach networking in the RIGHT way, and that’s what I’m going to share with you here.
How to network the RIGHT way to attract your ideal clients
1. The Right Event
You can only find the RIGHT networking events if you know who your ideal client is? Have you created a client profile and value proposition for the products or services you offer? If you have, you’ll know who you want to meet and which networking meetings are likely to be attended by your ideal client. If you haven’t, you can waste a lot of time going to meetings that just aren’t a fit for you.
However selective you are, you won’t find networking meetings where everyone fits your ideal client profile, but go for the ones that will have a good percentage that fit the bill.
To find networking events, go to Meetup.com and search for meetups in your area. Ask your local contacts if they know of networking events in your area. Then qualify them by looking at the members to see whether they fit your criteria.
If you haven’t created your client profile and value proposition, contact me at www.thesuccessalchemist.net and I’ll send you a couple of templates to make it easy for you.
2. The Right People
Once you’re at the networking event, make sure you speak to the RIGHT people. If have access to a list of attendees, look at their profiles beforehand and decide who are the top people you want to meet because they fit your profile. If you don’t have a list of attendees, make sure you have a brief description of the people you serve e.g. “I work with women entrepreneurs who want to build their holistic health and wellness business.”
If you work primarily with women, go to a women’s networking meeting. Even if you go to a mixed gender meeting, such as the local Chamber of Commerce, head for the women at the meeting so you’re focused on the most likely fit for your business. The RIGHT connection will naturally lead to more engagement and potentially to acquiring a new client.
As well as working logically as I’ve just described, follow your intuition. I used to be very left-brained and logical until my mid-fifties when I was prompted to switch on my intuition and give it the power to help me discern who to target. The more you practice this, the easier it gets. You become expert at reading energy and gravitate towards people who you resonate with – who are literally on the same wavelength or frequency.
3. The Right Intentions
Before the event, set clear intentions for the outcomes you want to achieve. For example, “I want to connect with 5 people who fit my ideal client profile and are interested in my services, and for those who don’t fit my profile I will create potential referral partners.”
The more people you get to know who are aware of the products or services you offer, the more likely you are to get referred when people are looking for what your business provides.
Please don’t go with the intention of making a sale. Networking is about making connections and building relationships. Trying to sell at a networking event is THE biggest turnoff and will destroy any relationship building potential you might otherwise have had.
4. The Right Branding
Develop a brand that gets attention and encapsulates your offering in a few words, whether it’s your business name, a title for yourself or the name of your product or service.
I recently came up with the name The Success Alchemist for myself which I am now confident incorporates the concept of what I provide as a success coach/mentor and trainer. It is a magical mix of the right mindset, manifestation mastery and the right methods. Since I changed my branding to use this title I have experienced a huge difference in the response from people who immediately want to know more abaout what I do.
Once you have developed a brand that feels right, I can guarantee you’ll see a major increase in the number and quality of the connectuions you make.
5. The Right Message
Yes, you guessed it! This is about perfecting your ‘elevator pitch’ – a short precise description of what you do and for whom. Work on this before the event so saying it comes naturally to you. Use a format that includes your name, your business name and the outcome your ideal clients achieve as a result of your products or services. People are interested in results, not processes and in benefits not features. Remember that people buy with their emotions and back up their decision with logic, not the other way round. So if you can grab their attention with some juicy results and engage their emotions with the the thought of what it would mean to them to achieve those results, you’ve got a winning combination.
6. The Right Business Card
Just as you want to develop a brand that gets attention, you also want a business card that stands out from the crowd. At networking events people collect lots of business cards and it is easy for them to forget who the business relates to. I know, because I’ve often looked through my business cards and wondered who they are and when and where I met them. With a card that stands out it is much more likely that you and your business will be remembered and that person will follow up with you to find out more.
One way is to include your photo on the card – a clear headshot so they’ll recognize you immediately. Another way is to have a design that looks different and grabs their attention.
My latest cards are from Moo.com and I chose a very simple, clean design with a meme on the back which has a quote that represents elements of what I do in my business. It not only stands out from a design point of view but also enables me to communicate my service and values in a fun way.
7. The Right Conversation
Many people go to networking events thinking they have to sieze the opportunity to talk about themselves and everything they do, which can be a commplete turn-off for the poor listener that they’ve backed into a corner!
The best way to engage with someone at a networking event is to ask questions. Ask them what they do, about their business, what their challenges, their ideal client… so you can tailor your conversation to respond to what they need, or, if it’s not something you can provide you may be able to connect them with people who can help them.
Using questioning is the best way to build relationships because it builds rapport, it shows you’re interested in them and you also gain valuable information about the person you’ve just connected with.
8. The Right Follow Up
So you’ve come away with a bunch of business cards. If you don’t follow up with those connections you’ve wasted your time at the networking event. You can’t rely on other people to follow up with you, you have to be proactive in maintaining contact with them, even if they don’t appear to be an immediate prospect.
I don’t recommend that you add them to your email list unless you’ve asked permission. It is much better to email them with an offer such as a free report or product sample – whatever is appropriate for your business – which will then add them to your list when they respond.
Depending on the conversation you had at the networking event, you can choose whether to follow up by phone or email. If you’ve discussed getting together for a one-to-one, it’s better to make a phone call and set a date. If the conversation wasn’t so conclusive, it may be better to follow up with an email, saying you appreciated making the connection. Ask how you can help them with their business and say that you would appreciate a referral if they know or meet anyone who needs what your business provides.
9. The Right Offer
In point 8, I mentioned making an offer in your follow-up process to get them on your mailing list, or to move them to the next step in your client acquisition process. In my case, that is offering a copy of my free eBook – Dream Achievers Success Kit and/or a free Success Strategy Session. The other option is to offer to meet in person to find out more about each other. I reserve this option for people I feel are good prospects because it is much more time consuming that a quick call or email. Be selective about how much time you invest based on how good a fit they are and how much interest they’ve expressed in what you do.
10. The Right Outcome
Ideally, by approaching your networking in this way, you achieve your perfect outcome of signing up more customers or clients. However, not everyone is going to fit your client profile, or if they do it may not be the right time for them to work with you.
For those who don’t fit your client profile, the outcome might be that you thank them for their connection and offer to refer people to their business. You can continue to build a relationship as referral partners even if you’re unlikely to do business with them.
For those people who do fit your ideal client profile, continue with your client acquisition process to sign them up and for those who decide not to go ahead immediately, ask them if you can keep in touch with them. “No” often means “not now” rather than “not ever”!
Follow this process and you will become a successful networker who builds great relationships, gets more clients and becomes a valued member of the local community with raving fans who send lots of referrals your way. And you’ll have fun!
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