Networking Leads Are All You Need To Thrive
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What if there was a way to promote your business, get new clients, and more opportunities?
Oh, and it costs almost nothing.
Would you do it?
What if all you had to do is go out and meet people?
If you’re like most people the answer is, ‘maybe’. On the one hand you know networking is important. Fully 100% of people agree that face-to-face meetings are important for business relationships.
But on the other hand, it takes a lot of effort. Research shows that 41% of people want to network more often, but feel like they don’t have the time.
In this article we’ll look at some of the incredible benefits to consistent networking. And how to get more, consistent networking leads.
Why Networking Works For Lead Generation
A few weeks ago I got a call from a businesswoman on the other side of the planet. She wanted to speak with me about hiring a lead generation agency. Her close friend was aware of our work and was kind enough to recommend us.
And that’s why networking is such an effective marketing channel. People want to help their friends. And sometimes the best way to help out is to provide a qualified referral.
And the nice thing is, networking leads are WAY easier to close than regular leads. Trust is the foundation of sales. And the prospect has already been given the green light by someone whose opinion they value.
Now imagine how many leads you could get if you proactively expanded and engaged your network.
We all know that social butterfly that seems to know everyone. And everyone knows them, too.
Have you noticed that they seem to get a disproportionate number of opportunities? That’s not a surprise. The idea of ‘weak ties’ has been around since sociologist Mark Granovetter came up with the idea in the early 1970’s.
“Weak ties” refers to friends of the people who already know you well. It’s like how Linkedin has 1st degree connections. They’re people with whom you have a direct relationship. And from there your network expands into 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Who are people your direct contacts know.
Here’s the thing about having a robust network. EVERYONE’S an influencer in their own way. When they understand what you do they’ll usually be happy to mention you to people they know.
And this is how you tap into extended networks to receive valuable networking leads.
If Networking Leads Are So Great…
… why doesn’t everyone do it?
Pandemic related issues aside, networking as a marketing channel comes with its challenges.
Unlike some other forms of lead generation, networking doesn’t scale especially well.
Sure, social networks can help us manage large numbers of relationships. But personal relationships are difficult to scale beyond a certain point. There are only so many hours in a day. And you can’t spend every evening meeting new people.
The other challenge with networking as a marketing channel is the inconsistency. A guy you met 3 years ago may suddenly introduce a friend in need of your services. But it’s hard to build revenue stability when you don’t know when the next great referral will come in.
But despite these limitations, networking remains an incredible way to grow your business and personal brand at the same time.
Networking By The Numbers
There’s no doubt that networking works. But how important is it really?
Networking and face to face time aren’t just for lead generation. It’s a fundamental part of effective sales and career management.
In this article we’re sharing some incredible statistics compiled by the team at Great Business Schools.
- Face-to-face meetings have a close rate of 40%.
- 85% of professionals say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships in-person.
- 95% of business people say face-to-face meetings “are essential for long-term business relationships.
- 84% of people surveyed say they prefer in-person meetings.
- 25% Of people choose not to network at all.
- 41% of people want to network more often, but feel like they don’t have the time.
So next time you feel like a Zoom meeting is the answer, consider a face to face conversation instead. It may yield better results than a screen.
Meet and Nurture New Contacts
Becoming a master networker is a topic worthy of an entire book. And several good ones have already been written (see Never Eat Alone below).
But here are 4 tips to get you started on building and nurturing your network.
Never Eat Alone: Everyone eats lunch. So Keith Ferrazzi suggests using that time to connect with new people and deepen existing relationships. With a bit of planning, you could be a master lunchtime connector.
Refine Your Elevator Pitch: A carefully crafted elevator pitch helps you define and practice your value proposition. And a strong value proposition is the key to successful sales.
Remind People What You Do: If I gave you a list of the people in your Linkedin network, how many professions could you match to the names? I’d have trouble telling you what more than 5% of my network does for a living. So what’s different about the 5% I do remember? Well, I’m close with them. Or they make an effort to talk about themselves on Linkedin.
Be A Connector: Make a conscious effort to tell people what’s important to you. And likewise, find out what’s important to them. If you ask enough people about their priorities, guess what!? You’ll be able to connect people with similar goals and interests.
Some Business Networking Opportunities
Generating leads through networking is ultimately about creating and nurturing relationships.
And whenever possible you want to do both those things in person. Connecting with people face to face makes it so much easier to share your message and connect at human level.
Great Business Schools found that nearly 100% of people say face-to-face meetings are essential for long term success. But 72% of people say their impressions are impacted by how someone appears and how they shake hands. So wear a clean shirt and practice a firm grip before going out.
Here’s how to identify business networking opportunities and become a known entity in your industry.
Get Involved In Your Community: One of the best ways to build a network in your area is by getting involved in your community. Look for events or meetups for small business owners. Local businesses in your area can be your biggest ally when it comes to getting networking leads, and landing new deals.
Request An Introduction: How did people meet one another before Linkedin even existed? Well, one common way was to find shared contacts and request an introduction. Nowadays that functionality can be replicated on Linkedin. But it’s worth going off the platform. Why not give your mutual connection an old fashioned phone call to reconnect before asking a favour?
Contribute Unique Content: Podcasts, blogs and YouTube creators all need a regular stream of experts to provide interesting content and insights. Reach out to shows that have an audience that could benefit from your solutions. If the host likes your pitch you’re in! Some platforms are quite popular and will give you exposure to a very broad audience. Also, most include a backlink to your website, which can be very valuable.
But above and beyond the exposure, you’re creating a relationship with the content host. Those people are usually experts in their fields. And they’re great people to know.
Host A Webinar: Tired of 1 to 1 meetings? Webinars enable you to meet with large groups of people, while maintaining elements of personal connection. For example, you can do a Q/A session at the end of the discussion so everyone has a chance to speak. Focus your webinar topics on areas of relevance to your target audience. The discussions don’t need to be specifically about your solutions. You can generate sales leads by working your solution into conversation. Or just doing a brief intro at the beginning of the discussion.
Speak At Organizations & Events: If you’re an expert on a topic, groups and organizations will be open to hosting you to share your expertise. Do a search for clubs and organizations that host speakers. Reach out to introduce yourself and you may have a new gig!
Sponsor An Event: If you can afford it, sponsoring an event can generate long term awareness of you and your solutions. Ask the organizers for a few minutes to introduce yourself to the audience so the value of your contribution isn’t just a sponsorship logo. Let the audience see that there are real people behind the corporate brand. Also, ask the organizers to link to your company on their website. It costs them nothing and can have value.
Host An Event: These days, creating your own event is a fantastic way to meet people in your area. Small scale, local events can be created on sites like Meetup. For larger events, work with a virtual sales assistant who will help you create and contact a curated invite list.
Attend Networking Sessions: In every major city around the world there are networking events designed to bring together people with shared interests. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider using Meetup to find interests that overlap with your own. Being part of the local scene in your industry is a way to grow your network.
Join A Lead Network: Consider joining a lead network like BNI International. You’ll get a steady stream of referral leads from business people, similar to yourself. BNI (and similar networks) are a BIG commitment, and not for everyone. Participate as a guest for a few weeks before making a long term commitment. But if you decide to join you may discover you get a sales lead channel that’s more than enough to establish your business.