Networking is a well established method of meeting people in business. It is essentially marketing and should be viewed in this way. When you meet people you are your product or a diplomat for your organisation. The objective with business networking is to give and receive referrals.
This is the best value marketing.
Think of it on a purely personal basis. You probably ask family, friends and neighbours to recommend different trades and services. Word of mouth recommendation or referral is highly effective. Formal business forums for networking include: IoD, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, BRE, Missing Link. After a networking event follow up with the people you have a connection with to develop the relationship further. Online international networking forums also have their place such as Ecademy and Linked In. Create your own networking group or attend a group based on your interests. Here are some ideas:
- community groups
- politics/action groups
- sports clubs (e.g. golf)
- charity group
- gourmet group (dining club)
To kickstart the networking and referral process contact the people in your acquaintances, allies, & advocates categories as mentioned in my last post, but instead think of using the ‘cold’, ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ labels. Ask for introductions and follow up leads. Try out lots of different events and then be selective.
Have an objective if you are investing money in membership. After a while review success and be focused. When at events don’t waste time with people with whom you have no connection, politely move on. To minimise this, plan ahead using delegate lists and then target your best fits.
Next time, tips on networking for trading knowledge.
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