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Which marketing channels are right for your business? Networking

Which marketing channels are right for your business? Networking
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Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

19 Dec 2017

Of all the marketing channels you can choose to adopt, networking is up there with the most hands on. Though it can be time consuming, if done right, it can prove very beneficial to your business.

Each networking group follows a slightly different format, but there are common elements: you’ll meet co-networkers and exchange business cards and you’ll often be able to give a short presentation of what your company offers, your target audience and your ideal customers.

There are, of course, many different, effective ways to target customers – such as promoting your brand through social media, PR or newsletters – but networking provides a more personal touch. As the most effective business relationships are just that – relationships – networking provides a great forum to meet a range of potential customers, collaborators and introducers.  It gives other businesses the chance to get to know the faces behind your brand – and people buy people!  For this reason, it’s almost safe to say that every business should be networking, whether you’re selling a product like stationary or fashion accessories, or a service like cleaning or advertising.

Future partnerships

The most obvious benefit of networking is sales from the people you meet, but networking offers many more benefits than that.  As well as meeting possible customers, you are going to meet potential suppliers and collaborators – the people you need to develop your business; meeting them regularly gives you a safe environment to get to know them to see if you might be able to work together successfully.

It’s also not just about the people you meet, but who is in their network; the more people get to know you and your business, the more likely they are to refer you to others they think will benefit from your services or product. You’ll therefore be able to build an even bigger contact list that extends beyond the immediate room.  

But all of this stems from the relationships that come out of networking; you therefore have to be prepared to put the time in to build your professional reputation among your co-networkers.  One of the ways of doing this is to pass them business, so it’s important not to view networking as a one-way process.  If you just show and go, looking for potential leads for yourself, without investing in developing meaningful relationships, you are unlikely to see real returns from your networking.  This means making a regular commitment to attend and investing additional time to get to know more about your co-networkers and their businesses, normally through 121 meetings outside of the formal networking arena.

The pros and cons

Networking can be incredibly beneficial to your company if used in the right way, but there are things to keep in mind:

Pros

  • Opens your business up to new audiences and potential customers
  • Creates relationships or partnerships
  • Develops your skills as a business person
  • You may also make new friends

Cons

  • Can be intimidating to new comers or if you’re not confident talking to strangers or speaking in public
  • Can be more obviously time consuming than other forms of marketing
  • Depending on which networking group you attend, there can be up-front costs
  • Different networking groups have different strengths and weaknesses; it’s worthwhile spending time to find the right best fit for your organisation.

Networking is unlikely to give you instant returns; you need to invest in it to establish rapport and trust.  But if you build enough confidence amongst your fellow networkers, you could see very positive results.

To find out how Capital Space business premises could benefit your growing business,  call 0800 107 3667