Networking is a crucial skill every entrepreneur should develop that can help you grow your business. But, many small business owners avoid networking thinking it requires schmoozing and slick selling. Successful networking is actually the opposite.
Here is what I have found to be the top three business networking mistakes. And, don’t feel bad if you’ve made any of these mistakes. Many of us have once made these same mistakes too. Let’s just focus on which one might be hurting your business and get to work on fixing them to start seeing positive results from your business networking.
Mistake #1. Using your 30 second commercial to recite a long list of all your services.
How do you answer the question, what do you do?
I’ve watched people’s eyes glaze over many times as they try to process the long list of services the business owner is rattling off. Here are a couple examples:
BEFORE Example 1:
“I am the owner of ABC Natural Healing Center. We offer: acupuncture, chiropractic care, Myofascial release, NAET, Neuro Emotional Technique, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, Reiki and yoga classes. Come in for an appointment at our offices in Anytown.”
Yikes! Most people probably don’t even know what half those things are!
How about this example:
BEFORE Example 2:
“I am a business coach. I offer personal one on one phone coaching, group coaching, training courses, mastermind programs, marketing consulting and speaking engagements. I also have a free newsletter and I offer free webinars and business coaching discovery consultations.”
Why this does not work effectively.
People tune out on the PROCESS you use. But, people tune in on the PROBLEMS you solve. Click To Tweet
Solution: Tell people who you help and what specific problems you solve.
AFTER Example 1:
“I am the owner of ABC Natural Healing Center. We help kids and adults recover quickly from sports injuries, back pain, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and many other chronic symptoms without using pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.”
My Own AFTER Example 2:
“I am a business growth expert. I help solo entrepreneurs and small business owners recover quickly from sales slumps, scattered focus and overwhelm. I can help you create and hit the right business goals in 90 days or less.”
Mistake #2. Focusing on converting customers at networking events.
If you evaluate whether a particular networking event was a good or bad use of your time based on whether you made a sale or picked up an immediate referral you are probably focused on the wrong goal. Objectives for networking events are different than for trade shows.
First, understand It’s not your fault.
- It’s only natural as a business owner to want to see immediate results from your networking efforts. After all, much of your success was due to your unbridled commitment to being results focused.
- You invested several hours to attend the networking event, so of course you feel as if you should get something from your time.
Why is this a mistake? … Because that’s not how people buy.
Solution: Focus on making new friends not just new clients.
Since you are networking to grow your business, it might feel contrarian to NOT focus on getting new clients out of it. But, if you’re trying too hard it shows. People can feel when someone is looking at them as just their next sale.
In order for networking to be successful, you do need to connect with people. Be genuine and sincere in making new friends. That’s not to say you should be passive and avoid talking about your business at all. But, first, focus on just being yourself, and not just you the “company” or you the “sales person”.
Years ago I attended an evening networking event for coaches. I was taken aback by a woman who sharply interrupted a conversation I was having with another attendee. Without any announcement or waiting for a pause for permission she shoved a flyer in our hands and told us to sign up for her certification training today because the $2,000 price expires tomorrow.
Here are key reasons why this tactic doesn’t work:
- Her sale offer was to spend $2,000 today, but $2,000 is not an impulse buy price point.
- The problem wasn’t so much that she handed me a flyer. The problem was how clear she made it she was on a mission to leave with lots of sales.
There were about 80 people at the event. Instead of leaving with 1 or 2 sales, she could have easily left with 50 to 70 new subscribers, especially because this was such a targeted group of people. Over time, she could convert 25 to 45 new customers which is far more valuable to her business than the immediate 1 or 2 sales.
This is a much easier networking strategy, but it does require having a list building system.
Mistake #3. Not having a list building system.
What is a list?
- This is an email list of people who are potential customers and clients who are subscribed to be on your email list.
- You can not simply take the email addresses off of business cards or directories of people you met and put them on your list. That is actually against the CANSPAM laws.
Why have an email list?
You may have heard the expression, the “fortune is in the follow up.”
The problem is it’s really hard to keep up with the follow up when you’re taking the manual approach of sending one email at a time. A list building system makes follow up a cinch.
What is a list building system?
- It starts with having an irresistible, free lead magnet.
- A lead magnet is a free offer people receive instantly when they opt in with their email address.
- You let subscribers know they will also receive more tips from you through email.
- You stay top of mind and convert more clients over time when you follow up with valuable tips you deliver through your email system.
Remember, 10 new subscribers is worth far more to your business than 1 new sale.
SOLUTION: Shift your focus from getting more sales to getting a more subscribers.
It takes time to build trust and confidence. When you have a subscriber list you can scale building a relationship with your group of prospects.
If you really want to drive 10 times more referrals be sure to download my free Networking Cheat Sheet template here.
QUESTION: Share your comments. What is getting in your way of creating a list building system for your business and networking?
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