Mastering Business to Business Networking: Three Pronged Plan for Success
by Chad Bronstein
Broadening your client base is the lifeblood of growth, and it begins with knowing how to network and attract new business. The odd truth for achieving this? To get business, first you have to give.
For any networking event‚ÄĒwhether it be an international conference, a local trade show, or online‚ÄĒthe most impressionable and memorable people are those who facilitate relationships and put others in touch with the people fit to solve their problems; and they are also the biggest beneficiaries and receive the most favorable returns as a result of their altruism.
With an estimated 88 million attending some sort of convention, conference, or trade show on an annual basis, along with the 364 million accounts on LinkedIn, business networking opportunities in are seemingly boundless. Any good marketer or growth leader should capitalize on these opportunities as often as possible, but there are certain ways to go about it. With that in mind here‚Äôs a three-pronged plan for success:
DON’T ALWAYS GO IT ALONE
The point of a conference or trade show is to get noticed and to interact with as many potential clients as possible. Thus in order to cast a wider net, team with a strategic non-competitive partner that is targeting a similar demographic. Whether sharing a booth or neighboring booths, a cooperative approach smooths introductions and betters your chances to receive referral business.
Also, should the referrals you send be well-received, you‚Äôve successfully made a positive and memorable impression on that referral and increased the likelihood of reaping some benefits from them in the future. A third benefit of teaming with a partner? Sharing a booth cuts expenses for the often pricey real estate of the convention room floor.
EQUIP YOURSELF WITH A DIVERSE PORTFOLIO OF CONTACTS
The only problem with being at an event with so many people is that your presence can be diluted in the sheer magnitude of the event. It‚Äôs not enough to introduce yourself and your business, or even to have engaging conversation‚ÄĒyou have to make a splash to be remembered after all the charm and booze has worn off. To do that you must provide real value to other people, as most everyone is looking out for their company first and foremost. If you can build relationships with other leaders and become known as a trustworthy resource who provides real solutions, then odds are they‚Äôll reciprocate the favor when given the chance.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION WITH REAL AND RELEVANT IDEAS
Whether in person or posting to an online forum, the essence of effective B2B networking remains: convey you are a credible and reliable source of knowledge, information, and contacts. Online forums‚ÄĒpreferably those with trustworthy users, such as LinkedIn‚ÄĒare excellent mediums to meet and interact with industry leaders who may have otherwise been outside of your market. Use it as a chance to introduce new people to your contacts in your tight networking circle and to make connections a.k.a. generate leads.
The fastest way to lose credibility online, however, is by overtly acting as a shill for yourself or for somebody else. Don‚Äôt give the impression that you‚Äôre conversing in order to score a quick buck‚ÄĒthe ideas you spring should come from of the place of a friendly neighbor who‚Äôs willing to loan his tools for the betterment of the neighborhood. After enough time and exposure, people will view you as an informative expert, of sorts, and see your face and your business and be conditioned with positive correlations. It‚Äôs just another way of giving back, through your time and your information, and at the same time expanding your own network.
Simply put, you should seek to find as many instances as possible to use the phrase, ‚ÄúOh I see you‚Äôre looking for some advice on x, allow me to connect you with (business) who knows some bit about that to point you in the right direction.‚ÄĚ
The world is always in-demand for problem solvers and the payouts can be priceless for those who do it right.