Growing your business in difficult times

Have you ever asked yourself the question “How did they find that business?” or “How did he find that job?” because you didn’t hear anything about it.

The answer is probably by Networking or through ‘the grapevine.’

The old adage ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ still holds good today and in these difficult times probably even more so – this is the basis of Networking – building relationships with like-minded people, that can lead to mutually profitable business partnerships.

Networking is a critical skill for anyone who is looking to succeed in business.  All companies lose approximately 30% of their customers each year – so you continually need to replenish your sales pipeline.

What can you gain from Networking?

  • Meet new clients and grow your business
  • Create new opportunities for you and your business
  • Become known as an Expert in your Industry
  • Provides a support network where you can go for help and ideas

Business Networking may be informal such as a meeting with colleagues over a coffee, or a more formal Networking Event to which you have been invited or found out about through the Internet or a friend.

Before attending an event, whether an organised group that meets regularly for breakfast or a one off event arranged by local business associations, always have a plan and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why am I going to this event?
  • How many new people do I want to meet?
  • Am I looking for a specific category of client?
  • Am I looking for an introduction to a certain prospect?

When you have a plan and know why you are going, it’s easier to stay focused and you will be able to measure the outcome. Just showing up at an event is not the best use of your time or money.

Attending a Networking Event can be more productive if you follow a few guidelines:

  • If you are unsure, go with a friend but separate once you are there.
  • Wear your name badge.
  • Smile; smiling will make you seem friendly, approachable and confident.
  • Introduce yourself, your company and how you can help people.
  • Always use people’s names.
  • Carry plenty of Business Cards and make sure they are clean and have all your details on them.
  • When talking with people, listen for the hidden message and the unspoken opportunities.
  • Never try to sell at a Networking Event.
  • Remember to follow up with any contacts you have made.

Be sceptical of people telling you that Networking is a waste of time. It is a process, not an end in itself and networking consistently will always bring results.

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