8 Tips For Small Business Networking Groups

small business networking groupThis article is number 3 in the effective small business communication series.

At some point or another, most small business owners will go to a networking event. In fact, most already have. Some of us (like me) have gone quite a few times.

Experiences usually vary, but most marketing veterans agree that a little time and effort spent networking will do your small business a whole lot of good. I personally owe much of SmallFuel’s success to networking through our local Chamber of Commerce.

So, if you haven’t been to a networking event yet, I recommend reading these 8 tips and then finding an event to go to. If you have been networking already, I still recommend reading these 8 tips and then going again (it can be fun, after all). If you happen to be a networking addict, you probably know these 8 tips and should skip straight to the comments to add in some of your own.

  1. Have confidence in yourself

    People go to these events with the intent to meet other people—so there is no reason to be nervous when introducing yourself. Just find a group that looks like they’re having a good time and waltz right up to say hello.
  2. Actively look for potential clients

    You probably already knew this one, to some people it just makes sense to look for potential clients. I do want to emphasize the word ‘actively,’ however, as it can make a big difference. You’ll find a lot more leads by walking around and really searching for people who will benefit from your services. I don’t mean searching the food table, mind you.
  3. Actively look for referral sources

    This tip is a little less widely known, though it’s still pretty well out there. Basically, with this, you want to look for anyone who might know people who would want your services. Building a relationship with a good referral source can mean a constant flow of new leads. Here’s the real tip: give them something first—they’re likely to give back even more.
  4. Actively look for top influencers

    Every community has a select few who are known by almost everyone, and whose opinions are well respected. It’s these top influencers that you really want to keep an eye out for and build relationships with. One good word from them could mean a whole lot of business for you.
  5. Break off conversations that aren’t productive

    There’s the person who is so nervous that they just want to find one person to talk with and cling to them for the entire event. There are competitors who want to chat all of your secrets out of you. There are people who’ve just had too much to drink. Whatever the cause, do your best to politely end conversations that aren’t productive. At the end of the night, you’ll have more leads to show for it.
  6. Follow up with all leads

    About a third of the people who say they’re interested are just saying it because they think it’s what you want to hear. Another third of the time people will say they’re interested because they actually want to sell you something. Out of the remaining third (people who may actually be interested), only about 3% will ever call you and actively pursue a purchase. The best way to turn this to your advantage is by actively following up with any potential leads. Call anyone you think is a potential client, and ask them to meet, or to talk, or to do whatever step is next in your sales cycle.
  7. Follow up again, with the same leads

    Unless you have a lot more luck than I do, you’‘ll probably get a lot of answering machines on your first round of follow up. You can increase your conversion rate even more by using a second round of follow up calls or emails. I wouldn’t go past two rounds of follow up, though, because then you’ll become that annoying hard-sell guy.
  8. Your card: right pocket. Their cards: left pocket

    This is a stupidly useful little trick I learned that eliminates the need to fumble around looking for your business card. What if you don’t have pockets? Just find some way to keep the two piles separated (perhaps put your cards on top, their cards on the bottom).

I have a lot more little networking tips like these; so, if you enjoyed them, let me know and I’ll write another article with some more. Also, be sure to check out some others articles about communication in the Effective Small Business Communication series.

Reader Comments

Nov. 9. 2007 7:58 PM

Nice blog.  I like your articles and the design.

Nov. 9. 2007 9:05 PM

Hey Ron, thanks for stopping in. I’m a big fan of you guys over at Grok too, you have incredibly informative articles.

Let me know if you need anything around here, and I’ll do what I can : )

- Mason

Dec. 4. 2007 9:18 PM

The main points out here are to lo for active clients and to find referrals. I have planned to open a small business last month but have failed as i didn’t get active clients who gave me regular work. I was further ruined when I didn’t find any referrals who would work for me on a daily basis. I have realized my weak points and now i am currently all set up to start completely new.

Jun. 18. 2014 4:12 AM

Virgin Brazilian Hair It is very interesting and worth reading.

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