There is great potential to grow revenues of your business through an enhanced and well-planned business network. Equally, many people who approach business networking without clear objectives and a solid plan end up disappointed.
Business networking is incredibly vital for businesses with limited marketing budgets. Research has shown that over 80% of customers of typical online business networking originate from referrals, recommendations made by word of mouth and directly from business networks. Leveraging on already existing clients is resourceful and ideal for sales strategies with small marketing budgets.
1st Step: Be clear why you need business networking
A good way to establish the objective for networking is to ask yourself the following eight questions and then rank all motives from the most important to the least important one.
Why are you networking?
• To earn customers or contacts and introducers to new customers?
• To strengthen and deepen relationships with existing clients?
• To earn support from an external institution in the form of a trade union, financial sponsor or mentor?
• To open opportunities for career growth in a given company?
• To improve public relations?
• To build an effective sales team?
• To provide a path to gather market intelligence in your industry to predict purchasing patterns of potential customers?
• Fortify relations with coworkers & inspire your team?
2nd Step: Establish Key Performance Indicators
The important assumption for successful business networking is having it in mind that all persons you meet can add value to your business. More importantly, contacts for interesting leads should be safely stored for future use. The estimated number of contact networks required is determined by the scope of work for the networking assignment of your business. Get to know potential clients – To better understand their purchasing behaviour, one can follow the nature of the content they post or business merchants they follow online. One can also attend events potential clients also plan to attend.
Systematically increase the number of introducers by exploiting contacts and connections online or otherwise. Establish rapport and build strong relations with the sales staff within the business organisation – the goal 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 better predict purchasing patterns of potential customers, your monthly action plan would look more like this:
-Seek service and product feedback and review from 10 clients who purchase your merchandise regularly
-Seek open suggestions from 10 clients who purchase your merchandise regularly on how to improve the quality of the product or service delivery
-Contact at least 5 of your existing suppliers
-Study the new products in the market from 5 potential suppliers to understand demand and the product’s competitive edge
–Research on your competitors and understand how they price their products, if they give any discounts, how they market their products and where they source their customers from
Step Three: Ascertain Your Contacts
Come up with a list of existing clients to be a source of customer referral
Come up with a list of introducers to potential employees, accountants, supplier and even non-executive directors
Create a list of potential organisations that you could join to come up with a list of product/service feedback and review data one would require to receive from members in the networking organisations.
Create a list of the companies and people you seek to develop a networking relationship with. Also, find out the type of events they attend. You can also recommend other events you think they will of value to them and you.
There you have it! A basic networking strategy to achieve your business goals!