I think a high number of people still don’t get what networking is about or how it works. I attend networking events in my own time, representing my business and for my own personal reasons. It’s always funny when I’m asked the next day if there was ‘anything of interest’.
Like most people, I’m ideally looking for a client or two, maybe a new partner or supplier. Realistically, these relationships come only in time and when permission has been granted and trust has been built.
Sounds cheesy but view your networking as ‘paying it forward’. At a time when finding new customers is one of the hardest tasks facing a business, it is even more important to get first impressions right. And research consistently suggests it takes five times the effort to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one.
Whether you go to meetings, seminars, use online platforms like Linkedin or Ecademy, do it regularly. Offer advice, access to your contacts and referrals.
If you do have to find new customers, in time by helping others, you’ll create a managable network who will be encouraged to advocate on your behalf. Word of mouth referrals and recommends remain the primary route for supplier selection in most sectors.
Networking is about giving of your own, and accessing other people’s networks.
After all, when did you ever buy a business service from someone you just met?