8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Boost Your Business Networking Results
Networking is a proven and fun way to grow your business. There’s no doubt about that. Meeting people, building connections, and growing your sales funnel are just a few of the benefits of networking.
At SalesRadar we use networking to get the word out about our CRM. Networking allows us to meet people, chat to them about their businesses, and of course show them how SalesRadar could help them.
It wasn’t a case of joining a network and just swapping cards and making sales though and we’ve seen some very ‘interesting’ tactics over the years! We don’t profess to be networking experts but having helped business people with their networking through our CRM so we thought you’d like to hear some of the best networking strategies that we’ve heard.
Here are 8 ways to improve your networking for greater success
1. Help your network
One of the key things most businesses get wrong with networking is the mindset. Networking is seen purely as an opportunity to find leads and sales so most go to a meeting with a selling mindset.
“Who here will buy my services?”
That’s not a terrible mindset in business, but it’s not going to help you succeed in business networking long term. That’s not to say you’ll never get sales though…
The best way to approach business networking is to go for the sake of the network and be a strong and reliable person within the network. This sounds backwards at first and also like you’ll be spending a lot of time helping others, and you’re 50% right if you think that.
When you go to networking meetings and aim to help others you become someone others want to help. In our recent blog we talked about the power of reciprocity and how when you help someone, they’re more inclined to want to help you. In fact – they feel compelled to!
So with that in mind, go networking to build reciprocity, not sell. You’ll be amazed how quickly you get strong connections, leads, and sales this way.
2. Listen, don’t sell
Moving on from being useful, start caring too. When you go to networking meetings you’ll find loads of people interested in selling their services and products. They get up in the morning to do that. It’s what drives them. So listen to them.
When you take time to listen to others and then use that information to make better referrals you’re working on being a strong part of that network and thus building on your reciprocity score!
It was Dale Carnegie that famously said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Show interest… it’s a powerful networking strategy and you might even learn a thing or two.
3. Show up and be visible
One of the key parts of networking that we’ve found works over the years is simply showing up. Time after time we’ve been in the right place at the right time and that comes from being in more rooms more of the time.
So long as you have a solid strategy to your networking and you use your time wisely, this strategy can really work for you.
Don’t go for the sake of going; go to build your connections, grow your leads, and make friends… If you’re in a room with a collection of people working in small and medium businesses you’re bound to find like-minded individuals you have something else in common with.
“Make friends for the sake of making friends” is a great quote by network marketing best-selling author, Wes Linden. The idea of simply making friends in business networking for the sake of it really appeals to us and as Wes has proved by his phenomenal success – it grows your business!
Show up, build your connections, and your business will start to benefit from it.
4. Follow up
Following up is the important part. The networking meeting could be busy, frantic in some cases, and getting valuable conversations started is really all you can expect. Once over, it’s then your job to keep those conversations going.
“The biggest opportunity is that most people won’t bother!” Stefan Thomas, best-selling author in the business networking space is famed for this quote, and it’s true. Most people won’t bother to follow up and that’s your chance to make a real wedge in the network you’re in.
We’ve found that the follow up (or lack of it) in networking is a golden opportunity for those who are committed to making it work. You need a system, but when you have one – it works. (If you sign-up to SalesRadar now for FREE, you get a networking follow-up built into our CRM as part of the deal, so it couldn’t be easier!)
5. Use social media
Social media is a networking tool. Social networking is a core part of a successful business or brand and there’s no reason why you can’t add social media to your business networking. Once you’ve met someone at a networking meeting why not connect with them on their chosen social media channels, too?
Add them on LinkedIn and start a chat in the inbox.
Follow them on Twitter and like or retweet a few of their posts.
Add them on Instagram or like their page and comment on some of their content.
The aim is to show up, add value, and continue your conversation. This isn’t stalking – it’s just being interested! LinkedIn is proving very powerful in this area and helping them connect with others and adding to their content and posts is a great way to stay front of mind until you meet again.
For more tips on using social media effectively, read this guest blog by Todd from Spaghetti Agency, here.
6. Use online forums and groups
Facebook and LinkedIn groups offer a whole new level of networking and can work both before and after meeting connections. We’ve been part of 4Networking for some years and they built their business from an online forum and more recently via a huge Facebook group of nearly 30,000 people.
Using these platforms, especially if backed by the network, can offer you some great connections and the chance to strengthen the relationships you have built in those business networking environments.
Add value to the groups, just like you would in the meetings, and you’ll once again build on your good work. You’re visible to potential clients so be yourself, but a professional version of yourself.
“The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers.” – Guy Kawasaki.
If in doubt, remember the saying from Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
7. Volunteer to run a group
Being part of a network and adding to the benefit of a meeting is one thing, but running the group or meeting is another. Getting involved in a volunteer roll in a chapter, group, or network gives you more authority and helps you improve your visibility; two very important areas for success in the networking scene.
Seth Godin, US blogger and brand expert, said, “Networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals” so get into a role that helps people do it even more. Steven on our team has been on many team roles in the past and the exposure and extra level of awareness has certainly helped SalesRadar to be one of the most trusted CRMs in the networks there. Even people who haven’t used it make recommendations because they’ve heard so much positivity around it from other users within the network!
8. Use a CRM to build networking into your sales process
Of course, you need a system to keep on top of all these conversations. You only have to go to a few meetings every week to start building on tens of conversations a month and those in turn lead to connections and introductions that you’ll need to keep on top of in an organised way.
Don’t go networking and forget to follow up. What’s the point? You’ll be liked and trusted but if you forget to follow up when you get new connections, leads, and enquires then all your hard work could be in vain.
Using a CRM like SalesRadar to help you ensure you follow up on your networking really superpowers your results. Remember what Stefan Thomas said; “… most people won’t bother”. Take the advantage, add your prospects and conversations to your CRM, and build connections, leads, and sales for you and for your network and watch your sales pipeline grow.
You can get SalesRadar for FREE right here. It comes complete with our networking follow-up audience so you can get to work right away.
If you need any help getting started, just contact us now via the chat option on the right hand side.