The people you meet at networking events and networking groups are NOT your potential customers. They are your potential sales force. They are the people with whom you should be building long-term relationships. They are the ones who will grow to like and trust you enough to feel free to recommend you to their clients and new customers.
Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for some time, gaining new customers every day is essential to being successful and being able to expand your business in the future. Always remember that in networking the customer comes after the relationship with those in your network is on solid ground.
Customers: People you are looking to do business with.
Clients: People with whom you are doing business with or have already done business with.
You will find future customers by staying in close contact with your former clients. That is the very best place to begin looking. If they were satisfied with your customer service and your performance, ask “them” for referrals… NOT your new networking contacts. When networking the focus should be on building relationships not trying sell them something.
Customers are the lifeblood of any business and they are everywhere, however they are very seldom found at networking events and networking groups. All it really takes is a willingness to meet new people and providing a quality product or service. Spread the “buzz” through your friends. Close personal friends, relatives, former co-workers and other acquaintances are both potential customers and your marketing team who will promote your business through word of mouth. Most of them like to help you.
I’m not particularly in favor of paying for customer referrals. They would be your choice. Offering existing clients who are in a position to refer good customers a freebee or discount on future services works for me but I never pay for referrals to get customers. Nor do I accept money to refer others. A freebie is a great motivator in getting friends and relatives to pass around your business cards. Maybe a free $5 Starbucks gift card or a coupon worth a discount on the service of a neighboring business would be nice. Chances are that the neighboring business will reciprocate on your behalf. The key to bonuses is offering something good enough that the client will think is worth their while to find others to send your way.
Most professional networkers will tell you that the most annoying networkers are those who try to skip over the part about having a relationship before they shove a business card in your hand and begin to pitch “their” business. Be smart! Don’t be one of those people.
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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