Business networking is all about building business relationships. Over time you build a trustworthy network of business associates who might become clients, suppliers, mentors, collaborators, associates and friends.
No matter how often your networking group meets, the brief time you get to introduce yourself around the table is not sufficient to build these relationships. I have attended various business networking events now for almost 20 years and most of my clients at Red Kite Services have come directly or indirectly from networking events. I have learned that it is a very rare event to turn up at a networking meeting, present your 1-minute pitch, and get business there and then from someone in the room. It has happened to me maybe twice in those 20 years!
Gaining business from networking is a long-term commitment and you may not see real gains until your second year, depending on your business. But one way to speed this up is by having 1 to 1 meetings outside the regular events.
My first experience of business networking was in BNI. At BNI they put so much emphasis on 1 to 1 meetings that when I was a member they were part of the core weekly actions, along with giving referrals, bringing a guest and giving a testimonial. Other networking groups are not quite as pressurised, but most recommend 1 to 1 meetings as the way to make the most of your membership of a group.
Why would I want to meet with you?
The reason you would want to meet with anyone in a networking group is because you want to build your business. Even if you know you would never have a need for a certain business (for example your partner might be in that profession so does the work) it is worth having that meeting. You might not be able to see how you could work with another business or they may even be a competitor. Book the meeting a find out.
Remember, you are not selling your business to the thirty people in the room – you are selling your business to the 50 or so people that the members know – their family, friends, colleagues and clients. So, you need to let the members of the group know what you offer and why they can trust you. And for you to return the business, you need to know exactly what their service is
I have occasionally been asked “why would I want to meet with you” when I have tried to set up a meeting. I have already explained why, but would you pass any business to someone who would have so little regard for your business? Each member of a networking group has paid the same amount of money and should be treated as equals when it comes to your time.
Some Tips for 1 to 1 meetings
A Few Don’ts
It is through 1 to 1s that the strength of a network really builds. As you get to know each member better, you will have a ready sales team, you will have a team of experts you can call upon, you have colleagues available to collaborate on projects with and you end up with a group of friends too. Check out The Business Wellbeing Club networking events!
If you are still not convinced that 1 to 1s can build your business, give me a call!
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