NETWORKING TO GENERATE NEW BUSINESS LEADS (Part I)
Where to Start?
(Excerpt from my article ‘How to Effectively Network to Create New Business Leads’)
Here is a simple, easy guide I use to help generate new business. It is a process called ‘extended networking’ and it can be applied to your daily activities.
1 – Start by writing down the names of everyone you can think of, everyone you know from school, church, organizations and associations, friends, neighbors, relatives and so on. You should have approximately 500-600 names on this list.
2 – After compiling this list, exercise judgment in dividing this list into three categories. This list will include:
- Potential Customers
- Leads to Potential Customers,
- and Both.
Take each Potential Customer list and divide into three categories, being High Potential, Modest Potential, and Low Potential. You will now have 9 cells of categories:
a) Those that are on the High Potential list, send a personalized letter and a nice brochure, then call to follow up within 5 days after sending. If you have more Potential Customers on your list than you can conveniently call within 5 days, then send in waves and allocate the time to call.
b) Those that are on your Modest Potential list, send a letter and brochure. After waiting 2 to 3 weeks, send another letter (only) as a reminder. In another 2 to 3 weeks, send another letter. Follow up with a phone call ONLY after working your High Potential list.
c) Those that are on your Low Potential list – don’t bother.
DON’T LET YOUR EFFORTS GO TO WASTE — FOLLOW UP!
Once you have generated interest, be sure to follow these simple steps to close the sale:
1) Pursue the appointment. You still have to get your foot in the door and make your presentation.
2) Be prepared. Find out as much as you can about your potential customer – company background, competitors, etc.
3) When doing your presentation, sell the benefits of your product or service, not the features. The customer wants to know how your product is going to benefit him, save him money, or increase productivity. How it works is of little consequence or importance.
4) Be persistent. After making your first presentation, follow up to answer any questions or objections, then,
5) Ask for the order! It never ceases to amaze me how many people go through all the trouble of making a contact, doing a presentation, answering objections or concerns, but never asking for the order. Once you leave, your chances of making the sale will decrease tremendously.
MORE NETWORKING TECHNIQUES!
You must be an active participant in networking meetings.
I haven’t joined any networking groups – If you haven’t joined local networking groups – join today! Make this your #1 priority today. PERIOD! You can easily find networking groups by searching the Internet (Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Clubs are probably the most common and have the most members.) Also try Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter and other social media avenues. Ask business associates or friends what networking groups they have joined. If you feel uncomfortable going by yourself, ask if you can go with him/her or at least catch up with him/her at the next meet. I’ve never found anyone who wasn’t more than happy to oblige.
I have joined local networking groups – If you currently are a member of local networking groups and aren’t attending, don’t expect the benefits. An associate who belonged to a local networking group told me that every time she attends a networking function, she tries to meet five new people, get their business card, and discuss with them their specific business needs. After doing this for six to seven months, she reported to me that several contacts resulted in new business, several were appreciative of her assistance (good public relations), and several may become clients in the future. Several have also sent her referrals.
When someone asks you for assistance, to whom do you refer them to? Simply, people you know. That’s why it’s important for everyone to know what your business is, so you will be referred to. An example of this is a gentleman who called me from out-of-state, requesting information on an organization. I answered his questions, but also asked him about his business, and what specific information he was interested in if wouldn’t mind sharing with me. I provided him with several resources that could possibly help him. In return, he told several of his friends and within one week I received two more phone calls requesting assistance.
So far I have given you some specific examples of networking techniques. You might be saying to yourself right now, “Well, I tried that, but it just didn’t work for me.” Then try again! Maybe you were just talking to the wrong people, or not asking the right questions of the right people. The point is…keep practicing. You will attend meetings where you will walk away with 5-10 great new leads, and other meetings with nothing. That’s to be expected. Chart your results for at least a dozen meetings. You will be surprised as to how effect your networking really is! Use the matrix as outlined previously to categorize your leads.
This is a great start to generating leads. Remember that networking requires effort, and with most businesses, you need to get out of your ‘comfort zone’ and meet people. I’ve always seen multiple returns on my membership dues, but only when I attend meetings on a regular basis, and then apply the techniques outlined above.
Check back for a follow-up to this article when I offer tips on how to become a Networking Guru! Oh yes, it even gets better!!
You may publish or reprint this article as long as you include the following: Written by Bruce Kullberg, owner of Kullberg Designs. Since 1991, he has offered creative web and graphic designs, mobile, web hosting and related services. For an overview of his services, please visit www.unicomsvcs.com or kullbergdesigns.com © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
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