How to Network to Create Profit for Your B2B Business
Most of my business comes through networks that I’ve actively built during the past years. They say that your network is your net worth and that, my friend, is very true. For a business in the B2B market, networking is a powerful tool in creating revenue and it is being used a lot. Unfortunately, many do it in an unprofitable way.
Fix these common mistakes and you’ll start seeing results. Not immediately but in time (as with all good things).
Create relationships instead of selling
A typical mistake that I see is people who come to a networking event thinking “finally the decision makers are just an arm’s reach away.” This results in 2 minutes of chitchat and then going for the sale. After this, they go for the next one. In any field, this is usually not an effective way to generate business.
Have a good time and be human to others, not a sales machine. Close later.
So what should you do? Get to know people. People are often not in a buy-mindset when networking and that’s why you need to actually create a relationship to be able to continue towards a potential customer relationship later. Have a good time and be human to others, not a sales machine. Close later.
Go for quality instead of quantity
So you have 20 to 100 people that you could potentially meet. You go through everyone, handing them your card and giving them your pitch. Unfortunately, giving a business card to someone without engaging with them in a meaningful way is the equivalent of giving them a piece of trash and it will go where trash belongs.
Make people feel special and not just a part of your CRM or monthly quota.
Again, engage with people, have a few conversations and make sure you make a lasting impression that you can follow up on later. Make people feel special and not just a part of your CRM or monthly quota.
Stop chasing the big fish and find a flank
There’s the big speaker, investor, or business leader that everyone is trying to meet in the event. You will be one in a million if you try to go to them directly.
Assistants, spouses, and business partners can open you doors…
Instead of going for them, engage with the people that are just behind the spotlight and are the gatekeepers of this person’s time. Assistants, spouses, and business partners can open you doors and are often more willing to engage with you than the person in the spotlight.
Remember that everyone has a network that can benefit you
As mentioned above, people often go directly to the person that are the decision makers and try to engage with them. The problem is that you’re not alone with this idea.
Remember that you’re networking and so is everyone else. Everyone also has a network. Realize that the HR assistant might personally know the CEO of your target company and actually have a way of affecting their decisions.
You will never know what lies behind the first point of contact, so don’t be bummed out if you didn’t get to talk to the potential client. There’s a possibility your sales process has already started through a different route.
Be deliberate with your time
As in any form of marketing, you need to reach your audience where they are willing to receive your message and you need to do this with the minimal necessary resources. In networking the limiting resource is very often time, the most precious resource one has.
Pick and choose the events where you will find people that are of the same mindset as you because it will be easier to hit it off with them. Embrace testing and attend different kinds of events. If you see no benefit from them for business or for personal amusement, simply skip them in the future. Just remember to see the options before saying “no”.
Networking is a powerful tool for creating new business in B2B and for making longer term relations. Just remember that it’s often not the place to make a sale but to build a relationship. You probably won’t propose to a girl or a guy on your first date right? You get to know them and see if there’s any logic (or other incentives) for creating a relationship. Same rules apply to networking. They’re relationships between humans.
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