I know, I know… it’s easy to get sucked into the numbers game. But, truthfully, networking is ALL about quality, not quantity. The biggest stack of business cards means nothing if you can’t turn those contacts into partners.
How? It’s simple, really! Consider these tips before your next networking event:
- Determine where your business is lacking.
Whether through a formal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis or a simple brainstorming session, make a list! Identify what services you provide (which you will then be able to easily describe to potential partners) and what services you don’t, but are complementary to your own. Knowing where your services are lacking is a good way to attack networking; you’ll have a clear picture of what your networking goals are. BONUS: when a customer asks for a particular service, you will be able to provide them with a solution.
With everyone. Seriously. Whether you came away with 2 or 20 business cards, follow-up with them. They may not be the best fit for you now, but you may need to call on their services in the future. Or better yet, they may call on you in the future! This is the start of your referral partner pipeline.
- Set aside time each week for networking.
Now that you have potential partners, develop them! Set aside 1-2 hours per week for networking, that way you will actually do it. This could be phone calls, emails, or in-person coffee or lunch meetings. Use this time to flesh out how you and a potential partner can work together. Remember, not every contact has to turn into a business deal, but you need to start somewhere!
I’m sure you’ve heard it before – you have to give to get. With one of your newly developed referral partners, send a little business their way. Not only will this strengthen your relationship, but your customer will be happy having been provided with a solution to their problem. You don’t always have to have the answer, but you need to know where to find it!
Not sure where to start? Join us at Nashville Locals, a group for meeting people in your neighborhood, not just your industry.