Networking Tips For Business
Meet Ali, Another Guest Author
Many of my readers know that I originally developed my interest in online marketing from the desire to market a complementary therapy service online. That particular project took a nose-dive when the supplier stopped me trading world-wide, but that's another story!
However, I still retained an interest in complementary therapy, and that was how I came across Ali from Ali's Therapy Academy, and her article below, which is republished here with permission.
With my current interest in local business network groups, this made a helpful addition to my knowledge, and no matter what your market-place, I think you'll find tips that will help you with your business networking – online OR offline.
About The Author, Alison Brown
Ali says: I have been passionate about holistic therapies since 2000 and have trained in massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and many other therapies since. I have also attended many seminars, workshops and conferences to help run my business, Ali’s Holistic Healing Hands.
Ali’s Therapy Academy was launched to share my experience and enthusiasm. The aim of the Therapy Academy is to provide therapists with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to set up, research, plan, maintain and market a business in the therapy industry. Therapists also learn to communicate effectively with clients and colleagues. The mission of The Academy is –
‘To advise therapists how to run a business and to create the foundation to continuously move it forward, so that they take their business seriously and create the one they want’
Over to you Ali…..
How To Get The Best Out Of Business Network Meetings
As a complementary therapist, I find in the therapy industry that when the word “marketing” is being discussed, and then networking is mentioned, most therapists find it an evil word. Something that they would not do, avoid, and definitely out of their comfort zone!
To this day this is the best form of marketing that I have done and to me if I did not do this I would not still be in business – creating leads for my database, finding new clients and referrals.
But there is a definite art to networking – I used to set off armed with lots of business cards, which I duly exchanged with the people I met. I shook hands and ate a lot of average buffets.
After a few months, I started wondering why I hadn’t got much business from networking. Either networking wasn’t all it was cracked up to be or I wasn’t doing it right.
When I look back to those early events and how I approached them, I have to laugh at how naive I was to expect business to flood in just because I gave out a few cards.
I had missed the “bigger picture”, and the wider benefits of networking, that I have learned now.
Benefits of Networking
- Networking is an opportunity to increase your contacts. If you are trying to build a list of people to market to, the contacts you make are pure gold. Not everyone is a prospective client but you don’t know who THEY know.
- You can compare notes. Running your own business, especially if you work alone, can be a bit isolating. It’s quite comforting to find out you are not the only one facing challenges, and people are usually very happy to share their experiences.
- You can keep up to date. What’s happening in your local area? What’s new in your industry? Who’s moving where? What new opportunities are out there for you?
- It’s a great way to learn things about other groups and events, new skills knowledge, new suppliers, what your competitors are doing, new products and so on.
- You can develop relationships for your business. Although we all go to networking events hoping to find prospective clients for our services and products, there are other valuable relationships to develop. Business alliances, (a business that is complementary to yours – beautician, hairdresser, fitness trainer etc) and businesses to help with yours (bookkeeper, accountant, printer, mentor, VA).
When you set up in business, clients will not ‘find’ you; you do have to let people know that you exist – one of the main reasons for networking. Unfortunately, going to visit a group once and expecting them to remember you isn’t enough so you need to keep reminding them you are still around by attending regularly and sending those you make contact with, your newsletter.
Top Ten Tips To Business Networking
- Make a plan before you arrive. Know why you are attending and be prepared. You will need your networking tool kit – business cards, marketing material (flyers, newsletters, and brochures), your name badge and your message.
- Define your target market, who is your ideal client?
- Arrive with a positive attitude.
- Do not come to sell, but to build relationships
- Define your Emotional Selling Point – what makes you stand out from your competition….what makes you different, why do they need you?
- Develop a short 10 second teaser to engage your audience.
- Create a powerful and different 30 to 60 second elevator pitch.
- Use the event to build a referral network.
- Be interesting and interested. Actively listen and ask questions.
- Deliver incredible value – offer to help, offer people referrals.
After The Meeting
Remember to follow up – send a thank you card to each person that you had direct contact with, include something from your discussion with them, a referral for them if you have one. Finally remember to add them to your database and marketing list.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day, however what you get out of those 24 hours depends entirely on how you spend them. Highly successful people use their time highly successfully. Now you may not be aiming for ‘highly successful’ but, you probably want to be more efficient and productive with your time.
‘There simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done’ I hear you cry.
There is enough time – but most people’s problem is that they try to do too much in the time available, or they didn’t organize and plan effectively, so they constantly waste time – does that sound like you?
As therapists most of us are generous with time with our clients (and we give them the time!) but if therapists are not business minded then this is where things can go wrong and they find there is no time!
It is important to have your goal/mission/vision and how to work towards it and how do you know what you are going to do today, this week, this month? Remember the saying ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. This is where time management comes in, when you organize yourself with systems to help with your business.
Getting The Best Out Of Technology
- Do you have a database that can work for you?
- Do you have a marketing planner that includes your social media and blog?
- Do you have a filing system for all your receipts and invoices to help with bookkeeping and end of year accounts? A simple Excel (or Open Office) spreadsheet can help you cut your accountant's costs
- Do you have a diary that syncs up to your computer and phone? e.g. Google calendar
- Remember to use Apps like Evernote to stores notes, ideas, photos, voice recordings etc on your phone and links to your computer.
- If you are a mobile therapist use the App Dropbox to store clients' notes.
- Link up with meeting attendees on social media and interact with them.
Time Spent At Business Network Meetings
Do you worry that time spent at networking meetings may not be the best use of your time?
If you use the tips above to plan wisely, and follow-up afterwards, the few hours spent at networking meetings can turn into the most valuable hours of the working week.
Please Add Your Tips And Experiences
My thanks to Ali for sharing her networking tips for business. You can read more about Ali, and how her site Ali's Therapy Academy helps complementary therapists build their businesses, above.
I know, from a previous post, that some of my readers “do” networking groups, and some “do not”.
Has this article changed the way you will think about business networking in the future?
If you are already an enthusiastic networker, please share your favorite business networking tips and resources in the comments below.