Networking Savvy for Sales and Service Professionals requires much more than printing up business cards. By definition, networking means to weave a relationship fabric with local like-minded individuals for support and mutual assistance. To succeed, you must continuously be pro-active, organized and stick to a strategic plan of action.
Build in Your Backyard First. In other words, start with your immediate sphere of influence and compile a list to begin your network database. Friends, relatives, friends of relatives, spouse’s relatives and contacts, current colleagues, neighbors, business associates, doctors, lawyers, and professionals that you work with, members of social or church organizations, professional association members, local school associations, etc. All may have leads for you – but you won’t know until you ask!
Next, determine who your BEST audience is and start building a list of potential clients. Do you fit well with small business owners? Are you great with sales organizations? Do you have a knack for speaking to direct sales groups? Are medical or dental professionals your audience of choice. Once you determine THAT — begin to construct a client profile of each. Getting to know your customers and potential customers will enable you to both better you can service them and market effectively and efficiently. After you determine your BEST customer, you can branch out from there.
Don’t Try to be All Things to All People. Spreading your marketing net too wide will waste both time and money. Send prospects something tangible every 4-6 weeks. Whether through content-rich email marketing, direct response mail campaigns, or even personal notes, staying top-of-mind is crucial. Change a topic? Bio? New video? Be sure every bureau you work with has the newest, latest and greatest content.
Join In! Networking associations can be found in every community. Local chamber of commerce, civic associations, and community groups abound! Most hold monthly or regular meetings, which is a tremendous opportunity to share ideas, find mentors and build relationships. Don’t be a wallflower or passive observer however. Be genuine in your participation and willingness to help your new colleagues. Present yourself with contagious enthusiasm and good nature, and you will soon find yourself first in mind when someone asks a member of your network who they know in your field!
Spread the Word. Making a name for yourself as your industry’s resource for expertise takes both time and visibility. So start soon! Create short presentations related to your field complete with helpful hints, tips and tools you can share with consumers. Offer to present at local associations, community meetings, school events, public forums, etc. Let your local media know that you are available as well for local cable or talk radio. Put together a series of press releases, articles or both that you can send monthly to your local publications. In a competitive market, spreading the word that you are the “go-to” expert in your field will reap high dividends in the networking long run.
Fuel Your Business With Follow Up! In any field, those who follow up will lead, succeed and excel far beyond their competition. Marketing is not a hit or miss proposition. It is a systematic process for building a successful organization. Leads are worthless without follow up and you will never hear from customers who never hear from you. Make sending hand written thank you notes each week a habit. The power behind this old fashioned format is exponential. Always express your gratitude and reaffirm commitments in a timely manner. Timing is EVERYTHING in lead generation. Use every resource at your disposal. Develop a weekly plan to set aside time for email, personal notes and phone calls. Whether that be carving out an hour or two each day or devoting one or two days a week, make it automatic and you will render the best results. Be sure in every case to personalize your contact with as many specifics as possible.
Stay in the Know. It is much too easy to get caught in the timeless trap of working so hard in our business that we lose sight of working on our business. Keep your mind sharp, your sources fresh and your ability to walk the cutting edge by committing to business and personal development. Today’s ability to stay on top of the game by manipulating the internet for industry information, skill building tools, motivation and inspiration makes succeeding simpler than any other time in history! Consider on any given day, at any given hour you can download valuable tools from industry experts to motivate, train and give you the incentives you need to realize your goals, make your dreams possible and truly lead a better life. Take the time this week, this month, and every month to be the very best you can be personally and professionally. Networking then becomes that much simpler as you always have fresh ideas to share, new information to deliver and new opportunities to communicate with those around you.
Make today matter. Implement networking strategies and marketing plans that will propel your business and bring you new success