Is Business Networking Still Important?
You walk into a local restaurant and it is filled with people in company polos, suits, even some in shorts and tee shirts (that is probably me). Business cards are passed out like candy, and the cheap beer is flowing. “What is going on? Who are these crazed people dressed to impress?” You just walked into your very first business networking event and you have been warned.
Networking is still alive and well and for good reason. It works. So let’s dive into business networking in more detail and see why I believe it should be part of your marketing/sales strategy.
Inbound Says Business Networking Is Dead
Before we start, I know what the internet says. More importantly what inbound marketing says. Inbound marketing is about attracting the right visitor to your website at the right time. The use of your blog, social media, and marketing automation are staples of the inbound marketing process. So, if you believe what you hear on the internet, business networking is dead. In fact, all traditional marketing tactics are dead. Does inbound marketing work? Of course. We have built our company around it.
I believe that inbound marketing should be part of your networking strategy. To increase sales while networking introduce people to your blog and invite them to sign up for your email list. Continue to generate great content and deliver your marketing message long after your networking event is over. You need to keep the top of mind and increase the likelihood that you close that deal from your networking event.
Make Business Networking Part Of Your Holistic Marketing Plan – edit from here
It is my belief that inbound marketing and outbound marketing working together. It sounds too good to be true. I believe that this is the way building a business should be. Everything you do should be around finding new revenue sources, even if not directly. Make networking part of your holistic marketing plan to generate more leads, increase revenue, and increase your networking success rate.
3 Reasons Why I Still Network
I am a huge fan of networking for my business. I try to get out of the office at least once a week to meet new people and network. Join your local chamber of commerce or any networking group on Facebook. There are tons of opportunities for you to network even if you live in a small town. There are 3 main reasons why I still believe in networking.
Your business should look for good partners, referral sources, or other companies that can help you grow. There are great businesses out there that are doing great things and you should try to help. Through networking, I have met some great people that help push my business forward every day. From getting mentors’ advice to the latest news from fellow marketers in my industry. We all love to talk shop and get new ideas, there are tons of potential partnerships out there. Networking is not all about closing the next deal but making you and your company better. Align your partnerships with people that have similar interests, goals, and priorities. It will make you a better person and help drive your business forward.
Prospect New Leads
This is the main reason most people start to network, to generate new business. Let’s be honest we all hope that when we walk into a networking event, the leads are going to rush right over to us because we are so charismatic and others need our products or services. This is not the case. It takes time to find the right new prospect at the right time, but it does happen. In addition, you could meet that someone who knows the right person or company that needs your products or service. Not everyone is going to need your products or services, so be nice to everyone and build relationships. You never know where that next lead might come from.
Part Of My Holistic Marketing Plan
I believe that inbound marketing is needed to grow your business, but some of the traditional tactics still work (and can be fun too). I believe that this is how you generate the maximum return on your marketing investment. Networking is part of our overall growth strategy and it should become part of yours as well. I am trying to meet as many people as possible and help others grow their business through our inbound marketing services. This is why I believe in a holistic marketing approach.
How To Get More Out Of Networking for Your Business
Okay, I hope you are all about business networking and are going to join some networking groups to generate more business and increase your revenue. Here are a couple things that I do to get more out of each networking event.
Marketing Automation Saves The Day
Here is where the holistic marketing starts to take shape and produce more sales. 90% of all business cards that I receive get placed into my marketing automation. This is a short email series that is automatically sent to new contacts I meet at a networking event. First, I tell them how nice it was to meet them and then over the next 2 weeks tell them more about my company and how our services can grow their business. The best part about this is it works. I am able to close around 10% of these new contacts into new business. Marketing automation is a way to save time while increasing sales. Just make the email series personal to increase the chance they call you back.
Left Pocket, Right Pocket
I bet you are wondering about the 10% of people that don’t “qualify” for marketing automation. These business cards get placed in the left pocket. the left pocket is business cards that are getting a personal email or phone call from me. These are the people that I had an in-depth conversation with, the people I want to set up a lunch meeting or have a cup of Joe with. I try to write on the back of the card before I leave the event what my plans are for this person. This helps me organize when I get back to my office.
- Hot lead = call
- Warm lead = call/email
- Possible partner or mentor = email
This system has worked in the past. Give every contact or business card a purpose with the left pocket, right pocket method.
Make Sure To Follow-Up
Follow up is where the sales happen. 44% of sales people give up after one no. Make sure that you are not part of this statistic. 80% of prospects say no four times before saying yes. So if you do not follow up, you are not going to convert the customer. Make sure to pick up the phone or send the email and at least give it 2-3 follow-ups. With no follow up there is no sale.44% of sales people give up after the first no. How many no's do you receive before you give up? Click To Tweet
Find The Right People
I know that this sounds too easy. “Find the right people that are going to buy my products or services. Got it.” I am talking about the connectors in the group, the person that knows everyone and is always having conversations. This is your go-to person, or even better, become this person. The connector of the group going to introduce you to potential customers, people that need your product or service. They know everyone and enjoy helping. This is great for the introvert. Get to know the person that is going to introduce you to everyone, become their friend.
Make It Priority
You are a busy business owner. I get it. But networking must become a priority if you want to build your business. At the beginning of the month schedule your important meetings (clients, staff, etc.), then look at the upcoming networking events and schedule them. I know that things are going to come up, but make sure to give it your all and make an appearance at the next networking group. If you are not seen, you are not going to get the benefit.
Stop Making Excuses About Business Networking
If you are a business owner, entrepreneur, or salesperson you have to get out there and network. It is vital to your business, so make it a priority. Get out there and meet as many people as you possibly can, become the connector. Business networking is a must.