Is Your Networking System Paying Off?

For most solopreneur home stagers NETWORKING is one of your key marketing strategies because you do not have a ‘company’ working on your behalf. You now are responsible for finding ways to attract new potential clients to work with you.

Are you joining networking groups where the members are your ideal target market, or who can give you referrals? This is an important question to ask yourself because there are only so many hours in the day that you have to spend on your marketing.

When I am teaching or conducting workshops on networking, I always recommend that you focus on ‘Quality’ and not ‘Quantity’. It’s not about how many cards can you get; it is about ‘how many relationships over time can you build’. In earlier ezines I talk about people needing to ‘Know You, Like You and Trust You’ before they will buy from you. We need to have our marketing pieces whether in person or electronically seen by them between 7 and 12 times. So it makes sense that just because you meet someone for the first time that they may not necessarily want to ‘buy from you’.

Follow up is critical after your networking event. When following up from a networking event it is considered very old school and unprofessional to follow up and try and sell something to someone you just met. You want to focus on ‘pull’ marketing rather than ‘push’ marketing so people self-select and want to buy from you. Find out how you can help them.

TOP 10 Networking TIPS – Creating a Networking System that Works For You:

This is a system that I have used for years and 85 – 95% of my business has come from people I met at networking events. The business may not have come directly from the person I met but from what is called ‘Word of Mouth’ referrals – meaning someone who met or knows me, referred someone else to me whom I had not yet met.

This is what you need to do:

  1. Determine which networking group is a good fit for you. If you are considering joining something like a BNI (Business Network International) attend as many as you can before you decide which one is a fit for you. Remember your time is money so you want to spend it in meaningful places that will give you a great ROI on your investment.
  2. Attend as a guest a few times before you decide to join. You can go to many networking events without having to become a member.
  3. If you are shy and don’t consider yourself outgoing go with a friend, but don’t stay together for the whole event.
  4. The focus in networking is on the person you are meeting not on you – Ask Questions to get to know them: “How long have you been doing what you do?”, “What do you find most challenging in your business?”, “How did you get started?”, – you are there to learn about the other person not to tell them everything about yourself first; wait your turn.
  5. Wear your name badge on your right hand side of your top – that way when shaking hands you can easily see each othe’s name.
  6. After you have chatted and exchanged business cards make a little note on the card about something to remind you of that person – sometimes a personal note on the card can be a great way to reconnect.
  7. You have heard the expression ‘The Fortune Is In The Follow Up’ it’s true! When you follow up send everyone you met an email within the week. Always ask if there is anything you can help them with in your follow up email.
  8. If there is someone you do want to meet with privately, ask them for a coffee meeting. The way to build your network is by meeting people one-on-one face-to-face so that you develop a relationship.
  9. If  you are on Facebook or LinkedIn see if they are too and connect with them. Social media is a great way to connect but stay connected by following and blogging in discussions and join groups. Make comments – become engaged so people can connect.
  10. Make sure they get into your database!!! You need to build your ‘tribe’ of followers and make great connections. You want to be sending out your enewsletter at least once a month and connecting through social media sites on a more weekly (sometimes daily basis). Mail Chimp is a ‘free’ enewsletter platform that you can customize with your logo, etc. Constant Contact is a popular software to use as well with good technical support to help you get started. With most database systems you can enter the contact name and they will then receive an email asking if they would like to sign up (OPT IN) for your ezines/newsletters. If they are really interested in what you have to say or offer, they will ‘accept’. You can always send people directly to your site to sign up for future mailings, reports, courses, announcements, etc. but just in case…

You want to make sure that every networking event you attend has your ‘ideal client’ attending as well. If not your ideal client, then look for strategic alliances to help build your business. Check out new networking events every 6 months so you meet new people. Be choosey though when you join because networking is an investment of TIME, MONEY & ENERGY! Set your intention before you go and please, have FUN!

Colleen McClure
Colleen McClure Administrator & Proud owner of PRES Staging® - Expert Home Stager. When I was very young I began drawing interiors, it just came naturally. When I work with a client now, I see the finished project completed in my minds-eye as they explain how they would love to see their space created. I am able to provide sketches on the spot of their vision so this invokes client confidence and excitement for the project from the inception through to the brilliant manifestation – How Fun! When the economy did not support the luxury of home improvements, other passions led me to full-time work as a career counsellor. I very much enjoyed assisting people one-on-one to discover their own talents but this was an arena where I would develop effective techniques in workshop design and group facilitation as well. This would lead to a ‘happy marriage’ as I would apply these skills and passions when I purchased PRES Staging® - The Professional Real Estate Staging Centre. It’s truly the greatest joy to inspire others to discover and hone their innate talents – To witness their emerging confidence while coaching them on design principals and providing them the tools to start and run their own Home Décor businesses for Redesign and Staging. If you’ve ever thought you might enjoy this line of work, or even to do it for yourself and friends, get in touch – Let’s chat!