Yes I love my networking – and why wouldn’t I? I was very lucky when I first started out in business as a Virtual Assistant, not only did I meet some amazing contacts, I also received loads of training about how to network profitably! These days at I’m Your P.A. we get over 70% of our business through networking – so here are the top three tips I love most
- Be specific
In networking I often ask who people would like an introduction too, the answer is often “anyone”. Now I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet Mr or Mrs Anyone, or even Anyone Smith or Anyone Jones – so therefore how do I know who to introduce them too?! The thing here is that we all know our target market, the people we want to do business with – or do we? Let’s face it, if you don’t know who you want to do business with, how can I know?
A great way of working it out is to look at your existing clients – if you are a gas engineer and do good business with Letting Agents, look up some more letting agents and ask for introductions to them, it is far more specific than asking for “Anyone”. It is far more likely to gain results if you ask for an introduction to ABC letting agents or any other letting agents than asking for anyone that needs a gas service.
- Tell stories
Everyone has a story to tell – someone they have helped, where they made a difference, these are the things people remember. It is so much easier to recount a story to a friend or client that might be interested in a fellow networkers services than it is to sell the services. I have heard many examples of stories over the years, some of which will stay with me forever and have helped me to get introductions for others – what are your stories?
My own stories include a Conservatory company who put 30% on their profit margin in 12 months by getting diverting their incoming calls to us, he also finally took a holiday, had time off for his wife’s birthday and the school play! There is also the gas engineer who reduced his working week from 6 days a week to 4 days a week by asking us to manage his calls and diary. He is now more profitable working 66% of the time he used to – both have been clients for 6 years. I am sure you will agree that is far more powerful than just saying we answer phones for gas men and conservatory companies!
- Track the business
Make sure that you track every piece of business. If you meet Fred at the XYZ network and he passes you £100 worth of business, that gets logged to XYZ network. If Fred subsequently refers you to Jason, and Jason also passes you £100 worth of business, that too is logged against XYZ network.
I keep an eye on where my business comes from to know which marketing sources are working best. At the end of each year I do a thorough audit of all the marketing sources. I know in the last twelve months that 70% of all my business came from Networking
Of that 70% one network was responsible for 42% and my collaborative work with other VAs brought in a further 20%; the small free events that I attend from time to time also produced 22%. All of this tells me where I am best spending my time and money.
Our time is precious so use it wisely – where do you get the best return on your investment, do you know?