Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
Now is the time to network...
The current economic climate has made this a critical time to strengthen both your sales and networking skills and processes, to see results in your business. A systematic approach to networking will be a strong contributor to distinguishing the people that will thrive in this environment from those that will struggle.
Networking can be used as a sales tool and when used in a systematic method can create new, repeat and referral business for you.
During times that are tight the customer is generally driven by emotion, family and security. To fully strengthen your abilities to secure, maintain and generate referral business you need to be ready with a savvy skill set in assuring the customer that all three of those drives will be met.
Networking should be a planned activity and not an ad hoc must-do because business is slow. A strong traditional networking skill set must contain the ability to follow-up with EVERYONE you meet and a focus on the benefits to a potential customer, not the features of a particular product or service. Develop a high need to be as diligent and consistent in your approach to networking as possible.
In many industries, when times are tight there is a tendency to let go of both training and networking expenses. In fact these are the two areas in which you should continue to invest, as they will keep you ahead and a leader in your field.
Customers want to see confidence and consistency; they want to be certain of both the people and the companies they are dealing with.
A well-structured networking budget is an essential tool, particularly in our current economic climate. Take the time to develop a six-month networking plan and budget.
Follow a simple formula for planning your networking activities by identifying your goals; identifying the most appropriate places to network for you and your business; identifying the activities to do; assigning and delegating time to each activity; and finally creating your budget.
Start by looking at your diary and determining how much time and money you are willing to invest in networking for the next six months.
Secondly, set yourself a definite budget and include as many costs as you can - here are some that are easily overlooked:
- Travel (to and from events, don't forget to include parking costs)
- The cost of follow-up (in particular: time, make sure that you schedule time in your diary)
- Postage (for sending out "nice to meet you" cards)
- Phone calls (for those important "let's meet up" calls)
- Food and beverage costs (for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks meetings)
- Cards, stationery and marketing collateral for use in following up your networking activities.
Finally, take action. Look for the best return on your investment where time and money is concerned. Research, plan, budget and take action each day - a day that passes without action is a day wasted and potentially the loss of your biggest opportunity!
You might be interested in this upcoming event...
Upcoming Event: Reflect Your Success!
Building a Strong Personal Brand and a Powerful Network
How can building your personal brand help you achieve your goals? A strong personal brand allows you to network more easily and to connect with more people (and have them connect with you).
Join us on 29 May when Marny Lifshen, author of Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women presents a new webinar: Reflect Your Success.