ONE – Make your mind up!
If I had £1 for every time someone at a networking meeting described their ideal contact as “Anybody who wants what I do”, I would be very, very rich! I wouldn’t recognise an ‘Anybody’ if they bumped into me, to be able to match people to my network’s ideal clients I need much more detail.
Is your ideal contact male, female, young, mature, an entrepreneur, HR manager, sales director?
What industry are they in?
What type of business are they in – micro business, SME, corporate, large SME, not-for-profit?
What words would make me recognise them instantly?
If you network, online OR offline or both, this kind of detail will get you much better (and many more) good referrals, recommendations and connections. It’s a numbers game – lots of referrals are no good if they aren’t a good match; lots of good referrals are almost certainly going to end up in doing some business.
TWO – Know your ideal client
To really help people you need to understand what rocks their boat, what they struggle with, what’s keeping them awake at night, what frustrates the hell out of them. Why? Because if you can solve some of their problems you have a very powerful proposition.
Also if you can describe what you do in terms of benefits you’ll get far more engagement. For instance, instead of answering “What do you do?” with your job title (“I’m an accountant/marketing coach/HR consultant”) try coming at it from another perspective: “You know how small business owners usually find there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? Well, I help them to develop marketing systems that take the pressure off, don’t take up much of their time and get them more business.”
If the person you’re talking to suffers from any of these pain points, you can be sure they’ll want to talk to you some more. If they’re not your next client, they’ll recognise other people moaning about these things and may suggest you talk to each other.
THREE – Give stuff away
I give away loads in my Treasure Chest – and there have always been people who say “Why should I give away all my secrets?” I don’t see it like that.
Firstly, people can see I know my stuff by accessing my free material – and not only gain a level of trust in my expertise, but also have a subliminal obligation from having received something from me. That means that they’re more likely to use my services or recommend me to someone else.
Secondly, most people have their area of expertise; if what I offer falls outside their area of expertise they are more likely to use someone who has already demonstrated their skills, than an unknown person. I can manage a spreadsheet, but I hate it – that’s why I have an accountant, so if someone wants to improve their image and get control of their reputation, they’ll probably come to me.
Thirdly, if someone is going to take the free stuff and try and do themselves they’re probably not going to buy my services anyway.
FOUR – Shout about it!
If people don’t know you exist they can’t ask for your help. In fact, even if they do know you exist, it’s easy to forget you when they’re getting deluged by information via the internet.
Make sure you maintain your visibility by:
- Attending local networking groups regularly – find the ones that work for you and stick at it; it takes time for people to get to know you.
- Using social media intelligently – pick the ones where your target audience are likely to be active (do your research) and post regularly. Not just where you’re going and what you’re doing, but tips, advice, etc. Also keep an eye on what’s going on and help wherever you can.
Remember that everyone is not crouched over their screen watching for your next gem of wisdom, so a few posts a day, spread out at different times won’t appear to be overkill – unless someone is stalking you!
FIVE – Build relationships
‘People buy people they like’; that means you need to get to know people for them to know you well enough to feel as though they like you.
Social media is great for maintaining contact with people, whether it’s on a Facebook Page, a Twitter chat, a thread in a LinkedIn group, watching a YouTube video or a response to an Instagram image or video. Of course, there are many more options, but that should be part of your research – finding out where your target audience hangs out.
Another way to build your connections is to grow your own marketing list – often by sharing a download of value in return for name and email. As long as you don’t spam your list, a regular contact by email with something of value will help people to get to know you, value your advice and remember you when they need your services. It doesn’t matter if they don’t buy right away – it can take between 5-12 ‘touches’ before people say ‘yes’ to an offer.
Is that it?
Of course, this will not solve all your problems, but, if you actually action these five things your business WILL grow. You might be very surprised at how much!