The Different Types Of People You Need In Your Network, And How They Can Help
Some people are more valuable to businesses at certain stages of the life cycle.
First you should be looking for mentors. These are people who’ve done what you’d like to do, and can give you invaluable feedback on what direction you should be headed in. Not only will they give you feedback on business ideas, visions and strategies, they’ll also provide guidance for what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to feedback, treat every piece of advice as very important, because everyone has an experience worth learning from!
Next you’ll need to find some referrers. These are people who regularly encounter people who are interested in what you have to offer. Unlike mentors, referrers will be from industries different from yours. They’re valuable because they have their own clients who are looking for the services you provide. You’ll get an opening to introduce yourself to warm leads and a powerful source of repeat business if they’re happy with you (which they should be!).
You’ll also need a list of events to attend on a regular basis, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sell to someone the first time you meet them. Attend networking events regularly to gain visibility and repeatedly reach out to prospects in order to gain trust, as trust will get you business.
Do Your Research!
It’s very important to research the event before you go so you have a better idea of what to expect and you’re able to plan for it. Make sure you know:
- Where it’s located. Is it an area with more established businesses such as the CBD? Or a high growth area with more newer businesses such as a regional centre?
- The specifics of the event: Is it a pure networking event or will there be speeches? Will it be a sit down meal? Open networking events are best as it gives you the chance to move around and introduce yourself to a lot of people. Lunch events also have their place if you know what kind of people will be at the event, a group of your accountant’s clients for example.
Networking is a social event and is often the first touch point with your organization for prospects, so the way you present yourself is of great importance. Think of how your prospects are dressed when you meet them follow those guidelines to ensure you’re dressed appropriate for your industry. Considering this is a common rule of thumb, it’ll also pay to put a some effort into being just a little neater than everyone else in the room, but don’t take it too far as you don’t want to be the guy with a suit and tie when everyone else is dressed casually. If it’s your first networking event and you’re unsure of the dress code, while you’re researching the event it would be wise to find some pictures of past events to see what everyone else is wearing and use this as a starting point.
How To Start
Now, how do you start meeting people? This is where the conversations start. First you’ll need to introduce yourself and swap business cards. You should all have name tags so remembering names shouldn’t be an issue, but bring your own just in case. The key here is to understand more about them and spend most of the time asking questions as they reveal a lot about a prospect, including how you can help them. Keep in mind though at this point you shouldn’t be trying to sell but gain their interest and get their contact details. Find out what their issues are and let them know your credentials, and from there arrange a 1-on-1 meeting to dive deep into issues. Arranging the meeting with some prior knowledge of what they’re looking for will buy you the time you need to formalise and tailor your sales presentation to the specific needs of the prospect.
Should You Set Networking Goals?
It pays to be mindful of targets but don’t be a slave to them. If you go into an event and, for example, try to meet everybody you’re less likely to make any meaningful connections than if you spend a little more time with fewer people. Make sure you spend an adequate amount of time with each person so you know exactly what it is they do, which will form the basis for where you come in to help them.
That said, it’s important not to take too deep a dive and spend too much time with someone as you’re not there to chat, you’re there to generate business leads.
At a networking event recently I met two property managers who both had the issue of having too much work to handle. I happened to know some tradies in my own network who were interested in talking to property managers for such work and brought them together. With both parties grateful for the connection, I was able to introduce my services as a business coach. I had just helped these businesses overcome stumbling blocks and continue to grow which was the perfect segway for letting them know I help my clients grow for a living.
Want to learn more about how you can turn networking into profit? Book a chat with Paul Ostaff today.
– Blog by Paul Ostaff