Networking is one of the biggest revenue builders for the future of my business. As a locksmith, I rely heavily on word of mouth referrals. That makes up over 60% of my business. To help me expand my networking business I looked for local groups to be a part of. Got to admit, when I went to the first one I was very nervous. I didn't know what to say, or how to approach people in the group. I had to get out of my comfort zone. So I stepped away from everyone for a moment, took a few deep breaths, prayed to God for some guidance, then went back inside and crushed it! How? I did not focus on me, I focused on them. I learned alot that first day and it has really helped me increase my comfort level in approaching others. Here is my advise for building networking confidence:
1. Look for networking groups in your area that you can relate to. Like minded businesses, causes you are passionate about, community service organizations, etc.
2. Don't feel that you have to commit to everyone and everything. Just visit the group and start talking to others. You will know pretty quickly if this is a group you can relate to and want to come back to.
3. Always carry a ton of business cards with you, and practice a 15 second elevator speach you will tell people when they ask what you do. Make it organic! It needs to sound like you like what you do, not a sales pitch. Keep it simple and brief. No one likes to hear someone going on and on about themselves.
4. Networking is about building relationships, not about poaching for business. When I meet people in a group setting, I ask about them and what they do. I listen carefully for items of interest that I think are a value base for me. I collect their business card, and ask if I could reach out to them in the near future to learn more about what they do. Then I follow up with an email after the meeting thanking them for their time and request a 1-2-1 meeting with them to learn more about what they do. (quite often at their place of business)
5. When I meet with someone for a 1-2-1, I let them know that my whole business is built on referrals, and I am meeting them to learn more about what they do and how best to refer them. Make the meeting all about them. Don't worry about not talking about you, that time will come. Once they realize you sincerely want to know them, and refer opportunities to them, they will want to know more about your business and look for ways to refer people to you.
I make it a point to meet with one new person each week for a 1-2-1 and go visit at least 1 networking group each week as well. This has resulted in me becoming a resource for other business and all of my customers. Now whenever a customer or business owner needs a service, they reach out to me first to see who I know and recommend! This has been a big game changer for me as it has kept me top of mind for both the customer and fellow business owners.
Remember, build the relationship first, help them and let them help you. Its all about paying it forward. It is how our business has been built and how it continues to grow. Our motto is based upon Proverbs 11:30 "The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life" It is on our work truck, website, and all marketing material.
I hope this was helpful to you all.
Many blessings to everyone.
At Home Keys Locksmiths
My initial heads up can come from a variety of sources, Thumbtack being one of them. Personal contect seems to work the best with personal references following closely behind. But an exploratory introduction via Thumbtack sets things up for a person to person meet up where it becomes a personal cantact. Thumbtack is great because it immediately weeds out those who strictly shop by price and I won't waste time with them. The most gratifying photo shoots have come from building long term relationships with the clients, who often becomes a friend. The advantage of building a botique relationship is they have the time to see what you can do while you get to discover who they really are. The end result is that you get a lot of repeat business and follow up sales.
I am not sure that pursuing a known or potential lead to an event is networking. You alreay have a target. Social networking for business ppurpose is to fish in that wild ocean for new leads. If you cannot miss your Starbucks coffee, stay in line but have something to say to someone in front or behind you (the click). By the way, it can be Barnes & Nobles or Walmart. 2. Find out about them. For instance, are they from outside town or they work around here. Find someting to say about their Jamaican dress style or hair style of your former that looks exactly like them at a wedding (don't start with yourself except you did something funny to creat the click), 3. Tell them what is unique (and probably) about your photography perspectives, 4. Press (the) business card into their hands anyway, with the prompt (You never can tell who they may help. People always like to help others).
Mine was at Walmart, and I am covering the event on November 16, 2019 in Dallas, Texas.
Have fun y'all!
I just started my business 3 months ago and all I have used is Thumbtack and I have been really busy. People in my community know that I am an Interior Designer and refer me as well. I have yet to try any other form of advertising. I look forward to hearing what other forms of advertising has worked for other Interior Designers out there.