Advance Your Business Through Connections

Advance your business through connections. It’s a very basic marketing concept. Any form of marketing or business development always will include several action steps. Some initiatives businesses may utilize to interact with potential customers include the following:
– Initiate a contact.
– Start a dialogue.
– Complete a sale.

How does this happen? Businesses utilize various strategies, such as personal networking, telemarketing, online marketing, email campaigns, and direct mail to gather these connections. As with anything related to marketing, knowledge and skill are needed for a business to successfully flourish.

Business owners, nonprofit executives, managers, and salespersons can meet new contacts through a variety of methods. Individual networking, along with formal networking events, are two avenues. These contacts, after a period of time, could develop into prospects, customers, suppliers, professionals, or other colleagues. Lay the groundwork for future sales and referrals. That’s what personal networking and networking events are all about. You will be very disappointed if you believe these activities should immediately generate product or service sales. Developing a base of connections is a valuable benefit for any business.

Nevertheless, here are five ways to succeed in the world of networking so you can advance your business through connections.:

Recognize Your Networking Goal

Success in networking hinges on knowing your target audience. That means retaining key individual demographic information, such as position, industry, location, etc., you’re trying to meet. Tops on the list include attending those networking events which produce positive outcomes. The “ideal connection” may not attend every networking event. However, potential referrals could result from the connections you establish at these networking events.

Prioritizing Networking

A strong business network doesn’t occur overnight. As with anything worthwhile in life, building a network takes time and effort. A brief conversation at a local chamber of commerce networking event is only a small part of the entire networking picture. Success comes from advance planning along with attending business events where you know your specific target audience will be present. Networking is as important as employee, stakeholder, and customer meetings.

Put Selling on the Backburner  

A networking event is not the place for a sales pitch. In fact, it’s a time to listen. Well-known writer/humorist Mark Twain once said, “If God intended us to talk more than listen, he would have given us two mouths and one ear.” Stop selling and start listening has proven to be a successful networking event communication strategy. Your first step should focus on meeting, creating a bond, and developing a relationship with each connection. When it comes to building a lasting relationship, with possible business work or referrals, trust is the number one priority. Building trust with networking success comes after that first handshake (or fist bump).

Circle Back

Failing to follow up with a connection after a one-on-one meeting or networking event happens all too often. Some method of communication should occur after that initial meeting. That could be an email, a short-handwritten note, or a brief phone call. No follow-up translates to  a vanished potential contact as well as a possible referral. Networking follow-up is not restricted to only new contacts. The same strategy also needs to be used for prior contacts.

Make Use of Technology 

Old-school communication skills may be the bedrock for business networking. However, there are several technology tools today which can support your communication tactics. These methods might include scanning business cards to compiling digital notes. CRM (customer relationship management) systems are valuable tracking tools. CRM systems store pertinent business and personal information as well provide follow-up reminders. Technology should not be ignored, but embraced because technology can boost the effectiveness and success of networking.

There are pros and cons to using various social media platforms. Social media offers an up-to-date technique of developing online relationships versus actual person-to-person networking events. LinkedIn, along with other social media platforms are excellent avenues to connect and pursue leads. Social media is a very cost-effective way to network via the world-wide web. A foundation of networking contacts can increase rapidly with a coordinated plan of true networking events, personal meetings, and technology tools.

Business Networking = Business Achievements

Technology has made business communication in today’s world more impersonal in some ways. However, the “old-fashioned” communication techniques from yesteryear are still relevant and key in building strong business relationships in the 21st century. Every business owner/manager and nonprofit organization leader relies on business networking as a significant activity.

Building an extensive and strong business network requires time, meetings, and follow-up. Not every connection equals a sale. Nevertheless, the more connections formed, the chances increase for a connection to become a customer or a referral to a potential customer. Let your business become the “go-to business” when someone needs a particular product or service. Timing is everything. However, through a strong network of connections, you can advance your business through connections and unlock a whole new world of business opportunities.

Denis Sweeney