If you are someone who wants to attract more clients with the least amount of effort, what I share today reinforces the benefits of smart marketing so you are at the forefront of someone’s mind when they decide they are ready to buy what you’ve got to offer.
There’s a critical step most business owners miss, or resist, in their quest to grow a successful business. One that as soon as you do it will make it much easier for you to attract more of the right type of clients.
Last week at our Heartabiz Hub Networking Event I had the pleasure of interviewing two social media experts, Liz Melville and Fin Wycherley – on How to Get SMART using Social Media.
They both shared so many brilliant tips, I thought I’d share some of these with you in a couple of blog posts.
Today I share their key pearls of wisdom for getting better results from social media and the huge benefits of paid social media advertising. And next week’s post I’ll share the key points from our discussion on the latest trends on social media including live-streaming, Periscope and Blab.
Supporting charities or social causes through your business isn’t only good for business, it can help you grow a business that’s more aligned to your heart, help you have a positive social impact and will enrich your life in so many ways. To not do this could actually be sending customers to your competition.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs are torn between their desire to make a difference and getting their financial needs met. However, as I discovered you don’t have to choose between the two, or wait until you have a successful business to support causes close to your heart.
Networking can be a brilliant way to meet people, get more clients and grow a business – to me it’s one of the best ways of getting what you offer out to more people.
But networking doesn’t always generate the results people want – often because people don’t know how to make the most of opportunities which are right in front of them.
In this article I share 10 common mistakes people make, so you can avoid them, or make changes to what you’re doing, so you can get better results:
Having false expectations – do you ever go along to networking events in the hope that people will sign up there and then, only to leave disappointed? Like many others, when I started in business 12 years ago, I initially thought networking was about turning up, sharing my passion and that people would buy from me there and then. It didn’t take long to discover how wrong I was. Partly because I wasn’t communicating ‘my offer’ clearly. But also because I didn’t understand that people buy from those they know, like and trust – and that often doesn’t happen on the ‘first date’. Yes it is possible to make sales the first time you go to a networking event however, networking is more likely to work for you when you invest in helping others and building great relationships over time, rather than expecting instant results.
Networking with the wrong people – there is no point in attending networking events you don’t enjoy, where you don’t feel you fit, and that don’t connect you to your ideal clients or partners. I used to hate networking until I realised I was going to the wrong events. Finding the ‘right’ networks for you is critical if you want networking to help you grow your business, to do otherwise is like looking for new shoes in a book shop! Thankfully there are plenty of networks for different personalities, interests and values, both on-line and locally. If you can’t find the ‘right’ one for you, you could always consider setting one up as I’ve done (see below).
Random networking – many people think the only way to get more clients is to get in front of as many people as possible and so randomly visit lots of different networking groups, once or twice, to showcase their wares. Then they wonder why they’re not getting many sales from their sporadic efforts. You’ll get best results when you attend at least a few networking groups regularly and when you nurture great relationships with key influencers within them.
Not doing enough marketing – are you getting in front of enough of your ideal clients when networking? Do you support your networking with other marketing strategies such as email marketing or social media? Even if you’re networking in the ‘right’ places and showing up there regularly, building relationships takes time. Most of people underestimate how long this takes and how many of their ideal clients or partners they need to be in front of regularly, in order to generate the sales that they’d like. If you don’t have enough sales leads yet, one of the issues is likely to be that not enough of your ideal clients know about you yet, you’re not being effective in your follow up (see below) or you’re not explaining what you offer in a way they ‘get’. Focus on putting the core marketing messages in place first then getting exposure to enough of the right audience. And support your networking efforts with other marketing strategies and processes that convert leads into sales.
Not preparing well ahead of attending events – if you don’t decide what outcomes you’d like from each networking event, how can you make sure you’ve got everything you in place to achieve this? E.g. having a well thought out elevator pitch and taking along the right supporting literature or props to support this and the type of leads you’d like to attract. Successful networkers consistently articulate well how they help their ideal clients, state what type of referrals they’d like and have all the information they need with them to help people determine whether they are a good potential fit as a supplier, client or business contact.
Mainly speaking to people they know – it’s always good to catch up with friends and especially those you haven’t seen for a while but if you’d like to grow your business from networking it’s also important to make time to connect and chat to people you don’t know. Just imagine how many more people could know about what you offer, if you were to introduce yourself to a certain number of new people at each event, and particularly those you’d like to connect with. A lovely gesture is to also introduce yourself to those standing by themselves or to invite them to join your group.
Focusing on themselves – one of the greatest gifts you can give is to listen to, and to be interested in others. And yet have you noticed that some people either thrust their business cards/marketing materials at you thinking little or no interaction is necessary. Or speak ‘at you’ rather than show any kind of interest in you? You’re far more likely to gain business from networking when you ask questions and listen. If you focus on promoting yourself first and showing no sign of curiosity or interest in others, you’ll switch people off. You’re also likely to be missing great opportunities for finding out how you could help those you meet, as a client or in another way.
Not being selective – when you know who your ideal clients are and where they go, you an be more selective about which networks to go to, who to speak to and follow up with. I know plenty people who waste a lot of time having cups of coffee with people they are never going to do business with (believing this marketing), rather than having conversations with those there is potential to collaborate with or serve. That’s fine if you are looking for new friends, but if you are networking to grow your business, prioritise meetings with potential clients, partners, suppliers or useful contacts. There is a difference between socialising and networking – both are good as long as what you’re doing is in alignment with your desired outcomes.
Don’t follow up well – it doesn’t take much time to send those you meet with a quick ‘nice to meet you’ email or message. Yet so few people I meet do any kind of follow up. I realise there will be some people I meet who don’t feel that way about our meeting which is fine. But a quick follow up message is the first step to building relationships with those who could become great contacts, partners, clients or suppliers in the future. Having a way to filter contacts into those you want to meet up with (versus simply connect on social media), and having a process to help you proactively keep in touch with them, is critical if you are to make the most of your networking. What’s the point in networking if you don’t follow with those you meet?
Wasting opportunities – any one of the above ‘mistakes’ could lead to lost opportunities but ultimately it’s the results you are getting that are an indication of how effective your networking is. Smart networking can be a great way to become more visible and grow your business. Remember even if you have a great product/service for which there is huge demand, if you don’t master basic marketing and networking skills, could be wasting a lot of time and money.
Whatever results you’re getting from your networking, hopefully this article has given you a few ideas to help you make the most of every opportunity.
It would be great to hear your thoughts including what experiences you’ve had when networking, what’s worked or not, in the comments thread below.
If you’ve found this article helpful and would like to know more, I offer a short training course to help you Get Great Results From Your Networking through my on-line business network and resource hub – The Heartabiz Hub. You can get instant access to this training today as a Platinum or Premier Member. Click HERE to find out more.
Alisoun Mackenzie is The Compassionate Business Mentor, Author, and Speaker who inspires business owners and social entrepreneurs to turn their passions into profits and make a difference in the world.
One evening during my recent holiday in Lake Garda (Italy) we were wandering around the old town, looking for a restaurant that served good food, and had an authentic friendly Italian atmosphere.
We didn’t think it would be hard, but most of the restaurants we passed were either empty or only served Pizzas (not great if you don’t eat gluten).
Eventually we turned into a cobbled square and stumbled upon a good contender – it was busy with lots of groups sitting outside eating tasty looking food. As we checked out the menu a jovial Italian waiter approached us and asked if we’d like a free glass of Prosecco–that got my attention. And then he proudly announced they didn’t serve Pizza–now I was in!
The term ‘social entrepreneur’ is being used increasingly but I sometimes wonder whether those described in this way are really putting social impact at the heart of their business.
Or whether ‘social entrepreneurship’ has become a marketing term used to attract the cluster of business owners and entrepreneurs who are driven by the desire to make a difference in the world, but who structure their business primarily to make money for themselves.