I recently attended a B2B Connect networking open house event, where the speaker gave a perfect definition of the word “networking.” He said networking is the sharing of ideas, information and resources. It’s not about selling, which many people attempt to do when attending these types of events.
Really networking goes far beyond belonging to a networking group. While these are valuable places to connect and get “leads,” your networking should involve much more.
Have you ever analyzed just where your business comes from? In my business, I have three main sources. One of the biggest sources for us is referrals. Referrals come from networking. Networking with clients, vendors and friends.
My trusted attorney and client, Dennis Mille, sent me information he received from a professional organization he belongs to. It was a from a Harris poll done on behalf of the American Bar Association on how people go about finding a lawyer.
The results were:
8% Yellow Pages
7% Online Search
46% Referral from Trusted Source
The article went on to discuss the merits of networking by not only belonging to groups and associations but getting together one-on-one with your clients, vendors and other centers of influence for you. An inexpensive marketing expense but one that provides a return like no other.
When you meet with people in an intimate setting, you build your relationship with them. You become more trusted. They get to know you better. You get to know them better.
Over the last couple of months, I have been focusing on connecting more with my clients, going out to lunch, having coffee or meeting after work. My intention is not to sell my services to them but to get to know them better and see how I might be able to help them. In over 75% of these meetings, I end up getting more business from them. Unsolicited. Sometimes right then and there, sometimes a few days later. Best of all, I have a much better connection with them. They are my friends and I look out for their best interests.
In summary, here are some takeaways that I have learned:
Connecting with others is hands-down the best marketing strategy of all.
It’s not about you, it’s about them. See how you can help them with ideas and resources and your connections. Then watch what ends up coming back to you. It is amazing and so simple.
Make sure however you offered to help, that you follow up and do what you say. This is huge and a place where many people drop the ball. Not following up on a promise is worse than not promising something at all.