Networking – don’t miss out this key marketing tactic
Networking at events is an activity that businesses should take seriously. Never more so in the current time when relationships, authenticity and genuine engagement are of such concern. Done well, networking will help increase your contacts in the right circles and keep you front of mind amongst these. Networking is also interesting because it involves the fusion of marketing, branding and sales. What then determines networking success?
Whilst a room full of people has its advantages, not everyone there will be a customer for all of us. We need to find ways of engaging with the right people. But that means not making assumptions about what the right contacts look like. Engage and see where things go.
When was the last time you were pushed or manipulated into a purchase? Perhaps never. Perhaps on a rare occasion that won’t be repeated. So trying to outsmart your audience is not where it’s at. Maybe there is no need to push. It’s about getting the balance between awareness raising and opportunity development. Think about whether you are playing a numbers game or building a brand.
Know how to recognise collaboration
Not all businesses can collaborate with all others. Regardless of how trendy an idea collaboration is, you have to be selective. You can’t collaborate with someone who does the same as you. At best this would result in never knowing who is responsible for what. Neither should you collaborate with any brand that reflects badly on yours. The Stop Funding Hate campaign has illuminated this recently. Perceived expertise, values and ways of working come into play here also.
The thing you can do is work with people who have complementary services for a similar market. So openness about what you do (and what you don’t do) is vital.
One thing I’ve noticed in my networking experience is a lot of insincere offers to ‘collaborate’ or to ‘refer’. In many cases this comes across as nothing more than an excuse to drain the other person’s knowledge or an excuse to sales pitch.
Take your time
Most of us don’t need 100 partners or customers from any event. So don’t do the ‘smash and grab’ approach. Meeting lots of people but not making a good impression on them is futile. Instead, invest time in speaking to people chosen as best you can, and be courteous regardless of the outcome.
There are numerous examples of conversations in which at least one party felt it wasn’t going anywhere but which later turned in to opportunities. I have known people for years when they have suddenly said ‘Actually, do you do …’
Respect people’s time
It’s great to get into an in depth discussion with someone unexpectedly. But make sure it’s a two-way thing.
If your only objective is to learn from the experience of others, fine. But be open about your motives. And don’t monopolise anyone’s time at the expense of them meeting others.
You need to be mindful of the purpose of the event here as well. Investing the necessary time is one thing, but cutting people off from an audience they are paying to access is another thing.
Everyone should remember also that it’s not all about you. Humans love talking about themselves. But it needs to be made relevant to the context and the audience. What do you know about them and their needs?
With this in mind, I have to say that networking has been key to the growth of my business and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.Share: