"Networking is more about 'farming' than it is about 'hunting'. It's about cultivating relationships." - Dr. Ivan Misner, BNI
Why is networking important?
1.) Growth of your business
2.) Your clients
3.) Reputation of your business
4.) Growth of local businesses
Although it may be discouraging and fruitless at first, networking is essential to the success of your business. Those first few networking or chamber events may be awkward but like anything else, the more they see your face, the more familiar they will get with you and more importantly, your business. It might not be obvious but talking to other business owners about their business and yours is also great tool for client retention. If your clients and customers see that you are supported, recommended, and promoted by other business owners, they will be further convinced that you are a company worth trusting.
Networking is also similar to a 'client exchange' of sorts. Not one business can do it all, this is why you make connections. Lets say that you are are a remodeling company, do you sell insurance? Probably not. Building a vendor list is important, it makes you that much more valuable to your client. If your client asks you for a recommendation, it means that they trust you to refer them to a reputable company. If you come back empty handed, you have lost value. BUT if you recommend a company that you are familiar with, one who's values resonate with your own, you have added to your value. If the client acts on your recommendation and has a good experience, you have now become even more valuable.
Let's go further. You have recommended your client to a business that you have networked with and they have now done business with them. This will make that business owner happy with you and in turn, this business owner will hopefully refer their own clients your way. They will also talk. They will tell other business owners and companies that you are recommending their company to your clients and this will help your reputation for follow through.
I'm taking this one step further here. We've talked a lot about personalized client retention gifts but what about personalized networking retention gifts? When that person sends their client your way and you conduct a business transaction with their client, why not send them a thank you? Not only will this keep you on their mind but this might give them an idea to do the same for their clients and in turn, this will help them grow their business. Which means more clients sent your way and everyone wins.
If any of this resonates with you and your business plan for 2016, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you brainstorm on some great, professional 'thank you's' for your networking group.
Thank you for reading, lets take the first step together.
Your Client Retention Experts