I can’t believe the months come around so quickly!

Here is the next monthly marketing tip.. and sorry, it also includes one of my bugbears!

This month I thought I would talk about the classic faux par that I am coming across a lot recently. This error can wreck the very best marketing strategy and brand in no time at all so what is it?

Just recently I attended one of the networks where email addresses are given out so that people can contact each other on a one-to-one basis to arrange meetings, keep in contact and to build relationships – a great idea!

Or, at least it would be if everyone knew the rules.

Networking isn’t just for lead generation using the people who are in the network; it is about letting people feel comfortable with you so that they will refer on to you when appropriate, confident that you will cherish their customer or friend as much as they do. It is rarely about the people in the room buying directly.

The cardinal, often unspoken rule, is that you build relationships and you make it clear during that time who your potential clients might be; what types of business/people you are looking for. In effect you ask the people in the room to bear you in mind should that person/business come across their horizon.  Think of just how many people each of those attendees must know and it won’t be long before referrals begin IF they feel comfortable with you and your company.

Networking is an incredibly popular form of face-to-face marketing and is often firmly embedded in the company’s strategy. And so it should be – it is fast replacing many more conventional forms of marketing in its reach, but get it wrong and it is just another costly marketing exercise that has returned a pittance.

So how do you translate networking into sales?

There are a number of things that good networkers do naturally.

  1. They offer free help/advice to the people in the room
  2. They work out quickly who they are likely to find some synergy with and build the relationships, work on the trust
  3. They take time to learn about the other’s skills and qualities
  4. They refer work to trusted people within the network, which then gets relayed to others
  5. They attend regularly and support the group to grow.

You will notice that none of the above is about ‘me’ – it is all about ‘them’.

If you want to sell directly to people I would suggest cold calling or door knocking and you will soon find out how hard it is to push against a closed door! Taking the time to build trust and respect will open doors you didn’t even know were there in the first place.

Finally (and then I promise I will get off my soap box), remember – selling to your networking colleagues is a good way of having doors slam all around you; allow them the courtesy of ‘buying’ from you and you will have a good customer who recommends you to everyone.

Finally, yes really this time (!) I know none of you would ever commit this sin, but maybe you can gently pass this article on to anyone that you know who is doing this – you will be doing them a great favour and miraculously, networking may actually start to work for them!

Talking about cardinal sins – I co-wrote a blog the other day looking at how and why social media turned nasty for Abercrombie and Fitch – it is a sobering reality just how easy it is to get it wrong!

Happy Friday everyone!

The White Knight

The White Knight