Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Networking is essential for any business. Yet, it can often be met with dread or a shrug of the shoulders. Some people avoid it because it feels too much like sales. Some people avoid it because they believe it takes too much time. Some people love networking, but never seem to be able to grow their business from it. However you feel about networking, I hope these tips can help make more fruitful connections for you and your business.
Before we get into the how of networking, let’s define it. It is important to define networking as this will shape your approach. I would like to submit this definition:
Networking is expanding the reach and awareness of my business
for the purpose of exploring potential partnership opportunities.
Networking is putting yourself out there. You, your skills, your business. But, just putting yourself out there is not enough. You need a strategy and a plan to explore those potential partnerships. One way to do this is to think about the people you meet in categories.
For each category, you pivot your pitch, your ask and your follow up steps to make the most of each connection. The three largest categories I think about when networking are: 1) Potential Clients
This might seem obvious, but don’t fall into the, “anyone can buy from me” trap. Have a specific person that you are seeking. For me, it is NOT, a 'small business owner'. It IS, a small business owner who has expressed frustration or discontent with an issue or problem I can solve. The more specific you are, the easier you can identify and interact with your potential client.
To know if they are truly your potential client, don’t forget to ask good questions and really listen. There is so much to say on listening that I wrote another blog about it, which you can find here!
2) Potential Referral Source
With networking, I am seeking to be connected with other businesses that serve similar clients. This means I am always looking to connect with bookkeepers, digital marketers, web developers, etc. If the person I'm speaking with has a service that one of my clients may need, I dig deep into what services they provide, how they work, their general fees, etc. I do this for two reasons.
First, I am seeking to make connections for them. If I can pass great connections, I am more likely to stay top of mind when they run across someone who needs my services. Second, I am able to build a great, varied resource list for my clients. The better I can serve my clients, the better it is for my business.
3) Good People To Know
This one is broad, but is essentially this: What is this person's sphere of influence? Are they connected to people I should know? How can I gain some of their wisdom and hopefully share some of my own? Is there an experience they have had that I would like to learn more about? Would they be willing to mentor me? Do they work for a company I am interested in learning more about? Are they in the same season of business and have a perspective I appreciate?
The possibilities are endless here.
We need to stop looking at networking as a chore, or a sales meeting and start looking at it as potential mutually beneficial connections for now and in the future.
You got this!
Amy Lynne Coaching is located in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN and works with solopreneurs and small business owners to help them reach their goals.
If you are interested in learning more about coaching with Amy Lynne Coaching, you can schedule a phone call here!