What is your highest performing lead source? That is, which lead sources are the easiest for you to close or have the highest closing ratio?
Did “referrals” come to mind?
Yes, referrals tend to be the highest performing lead source because the vetting has already been done for you—usually by a previous client or vendor.
Today we are going to focus on networking because networking feeds your business referrals.
Primarily, networking creates opportunities for you to connect and build relationships.
It also keeps you active and engaged with the frontline of the business, giving you perspective and allowing you to practice the sales side of your business.
Similarly, as you listen to other business owners and sales people at networking events, you learn from them. You are actually doing a little market research about what people need and expect in regard to your industry. Networking makes you wiser and sparks ideas for your business.
Are you tired and out of fuel? When you talk about your business and your offers and services at a networking event, it stirs up passion for your business. Networking creates energy, especially if you engage in good conversation.
When you go to a networking event, you learn about more opportunities like other networking events, groups, and speaking engagements.
As a result of all these benefits, networking brings in referrals. Let’s dive deeper into how to make the most of networking events.
This is a great question! You are really looking for 4 kinds of people . . .
#1 Strategic partners who also service your ideal client and can produce high-quality referrals. Lots of power in finding and getting to know these people. Get to know them and learn about their business. Then, it’s like you have a very powerful sales team out in the world working for you.
#2 Like-minded individuals with whom you can build community. Networking can lead to friendship! (We are wired for connection—science proves this!)
#3 The professional networker who knows all the people, all the opportunities, and all your strategic alliances. Identify them, lean in, and ask them questions!
#4 Competitors. Wait, what? YES! Once you acknowledge there is plenty of business for everyone (because there is), your competitors become allies. What are they saying? Who are they going after? How do we differentiate ourselves from them and what they are offering?
And, who are we NOT looking for at a networking event?
Of course you want clients but that is NOT the point of a networking event. You are there for connecting, not selling. When you connect, the business will come.
There are a few things you can do to ensure a great return on the time you invest in networking.
First, be sure to show up consistently to networking events. People will remember you if they see you each time. Consider branding yourself in order to be more memorable. Maybe it’s a certain color, a shirt with your business logo, fun earrings, or funky nail polish.
Then, when you are going around the room introducing yourself, give a simple and memorable introduction that tells who you are and what you do. This takes practice! Be sure to include:
Hi! My name is Kiara Sanders and I am a wedding photographer that helps shy brides with wedding gown portraits. I am here today specifically looking for a connection to a hair/make-up artist to help my brides feel comfortable and “like themselves” for their wedding portrait.
Next, listen to everyone’s introduction and identify who you want to connect with. Seek them out during the event and get their contact info.
When speaking to others utilize keywords and phrases your ideal client might say, not technical terms or industry jargon. This is so your networking friends will remember you when they hear people say your keywords and phrases. If they hear someone say she is “shy” about having her picture taken professionally or that she wants to feel “comfortable” and “like herself.” Then, this strategic partner will think of you.
Don’t hesitate to ask for specific connections!
Follow up. This can be a zoom meeting, an email, a phone call, or a quick meet-up over coffee. Again, this is not about sales. This is about building a relationship and a connection. Be the first to add value by sending a freebie for their clients or an interesting article. DO NOT PICK THEIR BRAIN. If you want this kind of interaction, you need to do a discovery call or hire them for this service.
And, finally, follow up again.
Do all of these and you will get returns!
SOWBO is a great community for networking. Our Facebook page, feature blog posts, and, especially, our retreats are safe, inviting places to meet like-minded women in business as well as strategic partners. Business can feel lonely and isolated, but it doesn’t have to! Become a SOWBO member today!