Networking as a Marketing Strategy
Networking is a concept that is often misunderstood and minimized by many businesses, even though it is one of the most efficient ways to gain exposure and develop key relationships and business partnerships. Networking is not just meeting, socializing or schmoozing with people, it is forging relationships and alliances with key individuals in your business community.
What is Business Networking? Business Networking is a marketing strategy that can be employed to expand your brand and reach within your community. Like all marketing strategies, it is important to ensure that you are tracking and measuring your Networking activities, and more importantly their effectiveness. When you are capturing metrics on your activities, you can ensure that you are getting positive results and not wasting your two most precious commodities – your time and your money.
What Marketing Strategies can you employ around Networking? Well, there are many, but here are a few that work well.
The most common strategy, though often misused, is targeting clients within their networking circles. Most people that utilize Networking are in a Sales role to some degree, so they are always hyper aware of potential clients. This strategy, although effective, needs to be used with caution, as it is easy to come across as needy or desperate for business and it can easily tarnish your brand and image.
The next most popular strategy that successful networkers employ targets power partners. This strategy concentrates on finding other businesses that are looking for the same type of clients as you. This allows you to form a partnership to help each other get into new businesses and have more access to new clients.
The least commonly used strategy, although very effective, targets resource partners. Resource partners are businesses that are not looking for your client specifically, but have products and/or services that your clients need or want. These are wonderful partnerships that can make you a valuable Networking resource and can bring great dividends to you from both your partners and your clients.
Becoming a resource for your Network is the key to maximizing you success. Remember time is money. The more time you spend on Networking, the more business you should be receiving (even if it is in the future). If you are truly committed to being a resource, your clients, power partners and resources will all be referring potential clients to you, once you have earned their trust. This is not something that will happen in a month or two, but a long term strategy that will enable your business to have a consistent flow of quality clients from business associates you know and trust. I call these people Your Champions!