News Flash: Networking shouldn’t just be about finding people to sell your product to.
Your networking efforts will be exponentially more successful if you also consider it an opportunity to meet other service providers that compliment what you do. That way, when your client needs services you don’t offer, you can be a solution provider and connector to help them solve their problems.
When you are heading to your next networking event HAVE A SPECIFIC GOAL in mind: meeting people and learning what they do. Get your mind ready before you head out and SWITCH YOUR FOCUS. When you are networking, ask questions about what services they offer and consider how can you refer to them for the benefit of your clients.
You have to GIVE TO GET.
In my initial discovery meeting with a new client last year, a privately owned local restaurant, we discussed their short and long-term goals in an effort to develop an effective marketing strategy. The owners relayed that one of their long-term goals was to write and publish a cookbook.
Great! A fabulous goal! However, I don’t have the knowledge or experience in copy writing, publishing, and book promotion required to effectively accomplish this goal. Fortunately, at a recent networking event I met someone who did just that! Learning more about her services, I discovered she worked with individuals specifically through the process of writing, publishing, marketing, and promotions for larger scale publications.
Instead of being unable to deliver, I was able to connect my client with a more qualified colleague to meet their needs. As a result, we set up meeting, were given a proposal for a budget, and publication timeline. Twelve months later, we are planning a book launch party!
As an added bonus, I learned a lot of new skills by watching and supporting the process. Although I couldn’t directly provide these services, my client was able to see me as a solution provider and connector.
Consider these tactical approaches at your next networking event:
- Build a network of referral partners. Find people who target similar demographics and markets, but provide services outside of your scope. Be able to CLEARLY DEFINE your target demographic and services to make matching up easiest.
- Look for a growth pattern. Is there a service you have been asked for repeatedly, but don’t have the experience to provide? Or maybe you have developed a new skill, but are in need of additional resources or personnel in order to effectively deliver. Ask questions and LEARN ABOUT providers in similar, yet non-competing business arenas. Hint: “non-competing” can be someone offering similar services to you, but at a more in-depth level that doesn’t match your company offerings.
- Complimentary services. In my business, I frequently refer out to providers for website design services, graphic designers, SEO experts, etc. I ask up–front for their services and pricing, and can quickly turn around project quotes for my clients. Clients are happy to get researched, vetted options without having to do the work themselves. Consider what services COMPLIMENT YOUR BUSINESS.
PO Box 160103
Nashville, TN 37216
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PO Box 160103
Nashville, TN 37216