Have you noticed how most people who go to small business networking groups are only there to sell? But my question is - if everyone's selling, who's buying?
Its a tricky one isnt it? Have you noticed how most people who go to small business networking groups are only there to sell? But my question is - if everyones selling, whos buying?
Lets be honest here, who sets off for a networking meeting thinking "I want to make contact with a good graphic designer and a printer to help with my next mailing" or "I hope I meet a nice accountant to help sort out my books" or even "I wonder how many business owners Ill be able to help today?"?
In reality our thoughts are more likely to be "I hope I find someone interested in buying my [products/services] today."
Networking is not the right place for selling - which is one of the main reasons why so many small business networkers feel disappointed when the events they go to dont lead to quick business. I know, I was that misguided business owner, fortunately that was a long time ago and Ive learned a lot since those early days in business.
Youve probably seen the same thing happening with the online networks too, if you belong to them. You see tweet after tweet, update upon update - some people seem to just send out sales messages or tweet links to sales (or opt-in) pages, and hardly ever actually engage with others in their network. This is also known as talking to yourself and is not a good way to keep your followers and friends interested. Whats more likely to happen in the long run, if you continue this practice, is that people will stop reading your updates - and therefore miss any really important information you want them to see.
So networking is not a quick route to new sales but it is a great opportunity to grow your network of contacts. Heres my 3 Step formula to successful networking:
Step One : Networking is about meeting people and making those initial connections.
Step Two : Networking enables you to get to know your new contacts and start a few conversations. Its also a good idea to focus on how you might be able to help them and definitely follow up after meetings.
Step Three : Take the trouble to build on the relationship and arrange to meet up outside of networking events. Take online connections offline by picking up the phone.
If you forget about trying to sell, networking becomes much more enjoyable!