Jeri, I have attended several of your networking events and we sem to meet at a number of other networking events. You make the point that networking is all about building relationships not selling your products. You are a great example to others on how to use these events to build the relationship. PS I also use your service because of the trust you have built.
Networking: What Works for Me
One business owner's journey through the art of networking and marketing.
I enjoy networking.
I have had my auto repair shop for over 15 years now, and I still find it interesting where my new customers come from. How did they hear about us? Who refered them? Was it a add we had paid for or a free search result from the internet? Or did they meet me?
The last one is my favorite although maybe not the most important one, (that would be referals). Finding new way's to meet people without seeming to have a agenda can be chalenging but also a lot of fun if done in the right order.
I have a great staff so I m able to set up various appointments and attend networking events and workshops without concern for quality of our service suffering.
Step one for me was to learn to use my computer better. This allows me to set up a monthly calendar of events that I would like to attend or feel I should for other reasons, educational etc.. Some of the events I go to are from friendships or intersting people Ive met on businessnetworking sites, Biznik being my favorite. Others are groups listed on my profile and I try to keep a presents with them as well. Most of these are just plane fun and I meet some very intersting business owners and get to learn there back stories much quicker in person than on the sites. Your personality shows in person more than it ever can on threads or blogs.
Hosting events has been a blast. Turning our shop into a social clup for a few hours every couple of months allows me to show the place off a little. We are proud of how clean and fun it is inside, lots of colorful antique/Auto stuff. Also everyone who comes knows how to get there if they need us.
Well going to events that are fun is obvious. And you always hope that you have scored some personality points and perhaps be considered when your proffesion is needed. I m not shy about introducing my self and my business, but after that we are just visiting. Closing on a new a account or setting up a apointment isnt what this meeting is about for me " unless they request it of course". And I believe that will come in time. It is also what the last part of this article is about.
I hate unsolicated follow up. I dont need to have someone I have met only once call and try to sell me there product or services. If I am intersted and get to know them, they will get my business in the end. This doesn't meen I dont want to learn more about their business as we chat at events, just dont treat networking socials as a pool of cold call prospects. These people are future friends and powerful referal partners. Looking at networking as paying this months rent can be short sighted, its more long term than that and will take time and consistant attendace on the sites and events to gain credibility, but once done the rest follows.
Another great aspect of Networking on sites or at events is it breeds accountability. If someone is attending regularly and has been sharing thoughts and ideas and people who have use them speak well one can assume they are good at what they do. If they arent good at what they do, word gets around quickly and the whole point of networking is ruinded. Poor service or workmansiph doesn't last in these groups. "Reputation is everything"
The newest type of networking for me is my website. I just had it udated and completly redisigned. Also working on this SEO stuff and having great success with it. Google -clutch replacement in Kirkland- and guess who comes up top first page. And this is happening in as many way's as I can find to help people get to my business. So I m always interested. "How did you hear about us"?
Thanks for reading,
Learn more about the author, Jeri Lucas.