Some notes based upon our experience of networking and generating leads for our web design business.
- Most of our leads have come through good business relationships. This is not necessarily the same as “networking” but networking clearly helps to build relationships.
- Do not expect to “sell” directly to your networking group. The long term benefits are more about getting referrals. Your fellow networkers will refer you to their clients if they trust you.
- Your work must be good, I wouldn’t want to refer an opportunity to a fellow networker if I felt that someone down the road offered a better quality product or service. That would reflect poorly on me and my business.
- Look for “power groups” or synergies with your fellow networkers. There will be some relationships that work together naturally (such as a marketing company and a web design company). On the other hand some relationships might be competitive or partially competitive. Check out this link (BNI power groups): www.bni.eu/uk/powerteamdrive/
- Some networking groups require exclusivity of professions (avoiding duplication of products and services), some do not. Work out which is best for you by trying a few different groups.
- It is my experience that B2C companies will probably do better at networking events than B2B companies.
- It helps if you are “liked” and are seen to offer real value to your group by passing back plenty of referrals. We all like to do business with people that we like, are trustworthy and are helpful.
- What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander! Different people seem to get different levels of success with different groups, try out many and focus on those that meet your objectives and are productive.
For the record, we attend the following networking groups:
Business Connexions (Gerrards Cross)
Thames Valley Business Womens Group