The Entrepreneurship series – The power of networking

“I am not good at selling. I don’t like selling.” These are common sayings even among people who are in business. You cannot build a successful business if you can’t sell. You have to sell your vision to yourself first then to others; business partners, investors and customers.

Is your business struggling?

You will come to learn that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This means that you need to identify the 20% of activities to focus on. Customer acquisition is one of those activities that are critical in business. A business without customers is dead on arrival so you had better know how to attract customers and convince them to buy or your business just might join the statistics of failed businesses. To turn your struggling business around, you need to begin by taking time to identify who your ideal customer is. How do you know who your ideal customer is?

1. They have a need for your product or service (it solves a problem for them; either takes away pain or gives pleasure).

2. They have the ability to buy what you are offering. You have no business marketing to people who have no capacity to buy, even though they might have the need.

3. They have the authority to buy (they make the buying decision). If the buying decision is made by someone else, then you are targeting the wrong person.

Successful marketing is 80% research and 20% execution. (the 80/20 rule). You need to come up with the right content that speaks directly to the hearts of your ideal clients. They need to be convinced that you are offering value and they need it like yesterday!

Networking events

So, will attending networking events help to turn your business around? I know that this might shock you but the answer is no. Who are networking events meant for? What sort of people do they attract? The people who are most likely to attend are looking for the same thing you are looking for; their businesses are struggling and they are hoping to get some customers from those events.

To grow your business, you need to grow your network and attending networking events is one way to do that. However, be realistic about the results you expect to get from networking events. Growing your networks is about building relationships and if you attend networking events looking for customers, you are likely not to benefit from those events. If you attend such events as a speaker, you have higher chances of getting customers because you are able to sell yourself. People will look up to you and some will want to do business with you. This might not give immediate results but you will need to nurture the relationships.

If you attend as a participant and not as a speaker, do not have unrealistic expectations about the results you will get. Be deliberate about your participation. Focus on building a relationship with a very limited number of people, maybe two or three at most. Get to have meaningful conversations with those very selected people and learn as much as you can about each other.

One of those people might open very important doors in future, because you leave in them a lasting impression. Continue to nurture those few relationships and do not expect any quick returns. Remember that everyone knows someone and as you nurture the relationships, it is likely to open doors for you to get into that person’s networks. That takes time but could give some amazing returns in the long run.

There is no shortcut to success

There is no shortcut to success so don’t attend networking events with the aim of dishing out your business card to as many people as possible hoping to convert them quickly into clients. Most of them are at the networking event for the very same thing so you are all basically there for the wrong reasons. The successful entrepreneurs that you would wish to pitch your sales message to are unlikely to be at the event unless they are the speakers. They are likely to attract the attention of everyone at the event so getting them to buy from you is not easy at all. It is much easier for you to bring in a client using other methods than trying to convert a speaker at such an event.

It is good to attend networking events but have realistic expectations about the results you are likely to get from them. You can create very good publicity by using your participation at such events in your marketing materials. If however you have to struggle to afford to attend, then you might want to consider channeling the time and money you spend on those events to more productive marketing efforts.