Business Networking – How To Improve Your ROI
Date: 28 March 2017
The Businsess Network Column from Platinum Business Magazine
By Emma Pearce – Marketing Consultant – marketing planning, outsourced marketing and social media training
Emma Pearce provides a checklist for increasing ROI from your business networking efforts in 2017.
Business networking is often an important element to SME marketing plans. But it’s easy to forget to do it properly.
Many businesses confess to not following up on all the quotes they send. Do you do all the things you should before and after each networking event?
After the Event
- Use the business cards and/or the attendee list to connect with people on each social media platform you use. Look for that person and their business on LinkedIn for example. Send a tailored connection request message saying where you met them and that it would be great to stay in touch in case you can refer clients to them. Keep it free from sales messages – unless you want to give them a link to a free resource you mentioned at the networking event perhaps (as long as it is relevant to them).
- Send a personalised email with the specific information you promised to individual people.
- You can choose to send an email to everyone you met reminding them of your call to action, but you can’t just add everyone to your email marketing database. They have not given you consent. However, ICO advise that you can email them to ask if they would like to sign up to your newsletter. So you could email saying that it was great to meet them at a particular event, with a very brief summary of what you do (and provide a link to a useful guide or similar on your website) and ask if they would like to sign up to your newsletter for more useful news and tips about x.
- Make sure you note where all your business leads come from so that you can judge which groups are the most productive for you.
Before and During the Event
You need to get it right pre- and during the event too.
- Carefully select which groups to attend – are your prospects likely to be there? Will customers be there who will help introduce you positively? Will business people who could be good referral sources for you typically attend?
- Attend regularly to truly get to know everyone and vice versa. Organise to meet someone from the networking group before or after the networking session for a 1-2-1 meeting.
- Try to gain speaker slots at networking events. Get to know the organiser and offer to provide a workshop for network attendees. This all raises your profile more quickly and helps establish you as an expert in your field.
- People buy from people. Are you representing your business well? Personal branding is all about you presenting a consistent visual impression to accurately reflect your personality and professional message. A good handshake helps too!
- When you are at the networking meeting, if there is a 1-minute slot for you to speak, make sure you use it wisely. Firstly, be memorable (ask a question, try an unusual start or unique description of what you do). Secondly, focus your message, don’t try to cover too much and be benefit-led. Vary aspects of your message at each meeting and why not use props, real examples and great statistics? Thirdly, include a call to action (CTA) that may be asking for introductions to certain companies or to call you about an offer or download your free guide, for example.
- Don’t always sit with the same people for a chat – networking should be fun, but make it productive too. Even if sometimes it is more about you finding new suppliers and partners, rather than customers. That could bring in returns too.
Have a look at our huge list of networking groups in Sussex
Why not read our other networking blogs… including:
Find out more about our marketing consultancy and outsourced marketing services.