An enhanced and well-planned business network can help you increase the revenues of your business. To make business networking effective, have a solid plan and clear objectives. Otherwise, you could end up being disappointed. Business networking events (even online at the moment) are very important for those businesses that have a tight marketing budget.
According to research, more than 80 per cent of customers of typical online business networking originate from referrals, recommendations made by word of mouth and directly from business networks. It is a good idea for businesses on a tight marketing budget to leverage on existing clients as it is a resourceful sales strategy for such a budget.
Step 1. Establish Why You Need Business Networking
To be clear why you need business networking, ask yourself these 8 questions and then rank the motives from the most important one to the least important one.
Why are you networking?
- Is it to earn contacts or customers and introducers to new clients?
- Is it to strengthen and deepen the relationship with existing customers?
- Is it to gain support from an external institution in the form of a financial sponsor, trade union or mentor?
- Is it to create opportunities for career grown in a certain company?
- Is it to improve public relations?
- Is it to build an effective sales team?
- Is it to provide a path to gather market intelligence in your industry to predict purchasing patterns of potential customers?
- Is it to strengthen relations with colleagues and inspire your team?
Step 2: Determine Key Performance Indicators
To be a successful networker, assume that all the people you meet can add value to your business. More importantly, you need to safely store contacts for interesting leads for future use. The estimated number of contact networks needed depends on the scope of work for the networking assignment of a business.
Know potential customers. To understand the purchasing behaviour of your customers, consider following the nature of the content they post or business merchants they follow on the internet. You can also attend those events that potential customers attend.
Use the contacts and connections on the internet or otherwise to increase the number of introducers systematically. Build rapport and strong relations with the sales staff within the business organisation. The aim is to connect with a target of at least 5 personnel. If the objective of networking is to expand market intelligence in your industry to improve your ability to predict purchasing patterns of potential clients, your monthly action plan will look like this:
- Seek service and product feedback and review from 10 regular customers.
- Seek open suggestions from 10 regular customers on how to improve the quality of your product or service you deliver.
- Contact at least 5 of your existing suppliers.
- Consider studying the new products in the market from 5 potential suppliers. Doing so will help you understand demand and the competitive edge of the product.
- Research your competitors and understand how they price their products, whether or not they give discounts, how they market their products and where they find their customers.
Step 3: Ascertain Your Contacts
- Create a list of existing customers who will be a source of customer referral.
- Create a list of introducers to potential suppliers, accountants, employees and even non-executive directors.
- Come up with a list of potential organisations that you could join to create a list of product/ service feedback and review data needed to receive from members in the networking organisations.
- Come up with a list of companies and people you want to develop a networking relationship with. In addition, find out the kind of events they attend. You can also recommend other events you believe will be valuable to them and you.
There you have it! A basic networking strategy that will help you achieve your business goals!