After writing about when people need to STOP networking some people asked: What if I need to build my business network and get more referrals – i.e. I still need to meet more people?
People run out to all kinds of networking events, collect a lot of cards and meet some great people along the way – if you want to build your business and get results you’ll need to get more focused than that.
A lot of people spend a lot of time networking in the wrong places. WHERE do you network? More importantly: HOW do you choose those networking events or organizations? You need to know who you want to meet before you pick where you go to network.
This means you need to start the networking process BEFORE you walk out the door to an event.
You’ll need a clear description of these people:
- CLIENTS: Who do you serve best? Who can you help the most? What problems do you solve for them? If you want to get more clients you need to create a client profile; Don’t be this guy: “Who is a good client for me? Anyone with money to pay me!” UGH.
- REFERRAL SOURCES: Who can refer you business? These people might not be your clients, but they can help connect you to your clients. In short: Who knows the people that you need to meet?
- MENTORS & ADVISORS: This is a greatly overlooked category. Could you use advice about growing your business? Could you use some help getting to the next level in your career? Find the people that can help you – know what expertise you’re looking for and recognize these people when you meet them. Find the people who’ve “been-there-and-done-that”. Then ask them for advice without trying to sell them anything.
ONCE YOU HAVE THOSE PROFILES AND YOU CAN CLEARLY EXPLAIN THEM TO PEOPLE – START NETWORKING!
You will get more results online and offline while spending less time networking.
Instead of running out to 3, 4 or even 5 generic events every week – know WHO you need to know and WHERE those people are. If you’re looking for clients and you solve problems for tech companies – go to tech events. Cut back on the rest. If you work best through referral sources from marketing professionals – attend marketing events and so on.
This sounds pretty simple; and it is. But when’s the last time you actively created an “ideal client profile” and then only went to events where you might find those people?
This ALSO means you need to start the networking process BEFORE you log into Facebook or LinkedIn.
Where do you spend your time online? What results do you get? One of the biggest complaints about social media is that it’s a “time suck” (or it can be). If that’s happening to you you need to start with those 3 profiles again; then go online, join discussions and connect to the people that you can help – and that can help you. Then STOP. Don’t worry about posting in 46 different groups.
Where will YOU go this week (offline) to meet new clients, referrals sources and mentors/advisors?
Where will YOU spend your time online?