When you opened the doors to your business were you hoping the field of dreams concept was true, build it and they will come? Just hanging out a shingle, however, does not mean you will quickly have a full schedule with new clients. Unless you already have a strong following, you will need to figure out a way to drive clients to your business.
What will get your practice to grow is having a marketing plan which strategically connects you with more people in a consistent manner. Marketing, however, is not the reason most people have a business. The dream is to offer a service, or product, which will help your clients. Successful entrepreneurs realize the importance of being a marketer first so you can practice your profession.
Marketing creates a bad taste in most people’s mouths. What is the first thought which comes to mind for you when you think about marketing?
I don’t know what to do?
It is expensive.
I don’t like having to sell myself?
I didn’t open my business so I could market. I just want to work with clients.
Using old school tactics and pushing people into your business is not very client attractive. No one wants to feel pressured to buy a service or product. This is a hit and run approach, creating a poor first impression.
Networking is an effective way to build your business. You will gain raving clients when done right. Often networking is not high on entrepreneurs list as a marketing tool so it is avoided. But what if you were able to find an approach which felt comfortable and genuine fitting your personality? You don’t have to be the life of the party to be an excellent networker. The good news is you can learn what to do in order to get results.
Let’s get started with these 5 networking tips.
1. Be aware of your focus. If you don’t enjoy having someone be pushy, salesy or too chatty, then don’t act that way either. Instead focus on relationship building. This is the first time you might be meeting someone. They are not looking to be sold your product. They might, however, be willing to talk about themselves. Take the time to find out more about them. While they are talking look for the common areas of focus. Weave that into the conversation. Show interest in what they have to say. Share some things about yourself as well.
Have two or three open ended questions to get a conversation started. Ask them what they do, how they got started and what they enjoy most about their product or service. This is a great ice-breaker for getting acquainted.
2. Know what you do. Are you able to effectively talk about how you help your clients? At networking events, don’t talk about what you do or how you do it, unless that person truly wants to know. Instead discuss who your client is and what you do for them. As you talk about this, they will naturally begin thinking of the people they know who might fit your description.
3. Check your attitude. Have an attitude check before walking into an event. No one wants to deal with a grumpy person. Leave your worries outside the door. Be upbeat, cheerful and open. My strategy is to be the hostess of the event, even if it is not my event. As a host, you want to make other’s feel comfortable and welcomed. With this approach you are sure to meet people who will want to get to know you better. Allow your sense of genuine interest to shine through.
4. Be of service. This goes hand in hand with the hostess attitude. Instead of it being all about you and what someone can do for you, think about what you can do for them. People are not used to being asked how you may help them. This one thing will set you apart from most others in the room. Just a word of caution, don’t agree to anything you are not willing to follow through on. Above all maintain integrity.
5. Follow through. The most important aspect of networking happens after the event. This is the one part where the majority of entrepreneurs fail. You met some wonderful people, had great conversations and talked about getting together. The next day is the ideal time to contact them and follow through with that intention while you are still fresh in their mind. Send an email or call them. By scheduling the next time to get together, you are building a relationship with a possible new referral source, joint venture partner or new client.
Consider this interesting fact about meeting someone for the first time at a networking event: 7% is the message you deliver. 55% is body language. 38% is voice and how it comes across. With this in mind the perfect words are not as important as the delivery. First impressions are powerful.
When done right, marketing can actually be fun, genuine and have clients coming to you. At first it sounds too good to be true. Don’t discount this too quickly. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Remember, it is not about you. Focus on the person right in front of you, creating a connection. You don’t have to talk for long. Don’t plan to speak with everyone in the room. Decide how many people you would like to meet at the event. Whether it is 3, 6 or 10 is not important. What is important is the impression you make. Presentation is priceless. Successful networkers follow up with their new connections the next day with a short email, voice mail or phone call.
Activity: Decide to attend a local networking event. It could be a chamber of commerce event, leads group or workshop. How many people would you like to meet at the event? Create your leads questions for getting a conversation going. When you walk into the event, become the hostess. Talk to people with genuine interest. Set the intention for meeting the right people. Compare this experience to previous ones.