People often make the mistake of going to a business networking event for the first time and expecting to come away with lots of new business immediately. And while that can, and does, happen, it doesn’t always work like that.
Just as with any new relationships, business relationships have to be created and nurtured over time. People prefer to work with someone they know and trust and this can take several months to achieve.
However, if you put in the hard work and effort, you can easily become part of a successful business community, made up of people who not only use your services, but also feel comfortable referring you to their customers.
Taking the time to do this is often the difference between picking up a few leads here and there, and securing a big chunk of your business through your new extended sales team and its huge reach across a region.
At FaB Networking, our one-seat policy, combined with our proactive approach to identifying how businesses can help each other grow, provides the perfect environment for enabling those business relationships – and even friendships – to flourish. The rest is down to you.
Top tips for networking
With that in mind, here are some of our top tips on how to build a business community through business networking.
Attend regularly – Attending one or two meetings every six months and then wondering why you’re not getting any leads is not making the most of your membership. You can only build relationships if you attend meetings on a regular basis and make the effort to stay for further networking, or take up the opportunity to go for dinner or drinks afterwards. You’re much more likely to win business if people get to know and like you as a person.
Maximise your 60 seconds – Use your 60 seconds to give a brief overview of your services, but also offer a bit of practical help and advice to the other businesses in the room. Perhaps finish your introduction with an interesting case study or share a top tip that can help them, either from experiences in your field or something useful you’ve discovered as a small business.
Focus on helping others first – Going in to your first networking meeting focused only on ‘what’s in it for me?’ is unlikely to win you much business. People may be reluctant to use your services straight away and will want to find out a bit more first. A great technique is to offer your help, services or advice where you see the opportunity. Providing value for someone will make them want to return the favour and establish you as a useful contact.
Deliver – If you’ve promised to review someone’s website for them, or provide a quote for a service etc, make sure you follow through on it. If you don’t follow up on promises the first time, you’ll be put down as someone who doesn’t deliver.
Follow through on referrals quickly – Equally if someone gives you a referral or a contact, make sure you respond, even if you may not be able to help. It takes a lot of trust for someone to refer you to one of their contacts, so it pays to deal with it quickly and efficiently.
FaB Networking has a great community of businesses who all work together to mutual benefit. Potential new members are invited to come along to one of our business networking events in the Midlands to join us for a coffee and what we’re all about.