Do you want to grow your business?

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Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 4:46PM

Are leads from Social media and your website almost non-existent?

Are you prepared to do something different?

If you answered YES to all 4 of these questions. Then why not try Networking?

It's a fact that most business development is now generated through referrals and leads via networking play a big part in this. Sometimes, nothing beats getting out there and building relationships with new contacts, but it is important to note that networking is not about selling! You won’t come home with lots or even any orders!

In Cumbria and North Lancashire, the most effective way to build your business is through people.

“It’s not what you know but who you know!”

So establish yourself an effective referral network, by getting out the office and meeting new contacts, finding out about their businesses, any common interests, and importantly do this outside yours and their work environment.

This method of generating additional contacts could make all the difference to your business growth plans.

Note; It can take a number of meetings to establish trust, however be consistent in attending events, be consistent in approach and be prepared, i.e. have business cards, a small note pad and your diary on you.

Use first names regularly when in a conversation and build the discussion from the previous meetings.

You have to get to know the person first, so ask questions such as; did you enjoy your family holiday to Italy? How did your daughter get on in her exams? What sports or interests do you have outside of work?

Then ask further questions and actively listen, taking in relevant points for the next time you meet. Write down notes in your pad or phone to record key points, but only when not in view of the contact or enter into your CRM system when you’re back in the car or office.

Remember people buy knowledge. So when asked, share tips, give advice, share contacts, introduce them to other business people you know at the networking meeting which may be of value to them and their business needs. You want to be remembered as being the person to go to. Think of yourself as a signpost!

Ensure you follow up, drop each person you meet a simple “nice to meet you again” email, to consolidate the connection. Also connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Ultimately, by networking and following up you will generate valuable personalised touch points that traditional marketing and sales methods and solely using social media fall short on. The chances are, over time, these contacts will either ask you to sell to them or introduce you to someone who will benefit from your services or products.

Do remember that these new contacts will check you out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your website so ensure these are professional, relevant and up to date. Your story must be consistent across all the sales channels mediums and throughout all your marketing activities.

So if you want to grow your business and try out networking!

Some groups I recommend worth attending.

For business referrals, meeting regularly within a structured process, nothing beat’s BNI (Business Networking International), Carlisle chapter have a visitors day Tuesday 16 May 6.45am-8.30am at the Crown & Mitre Hotel, Carlisle. There’s also groups in Kendal, Barrow, Morecambe, Lancaster. Free to attend for first 2 meetings, BNI groups meet weekly which accelerates the trust building relationships.

To gain industry, social and sector knowledge and to understand what’s happening in West Cumbria within the nuclear and energy supply chain BECBC (Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster), monthly meeting (first Wednesday).

Professional Networking, the larger Accountants, Solicitors and Banks all hold networking sessions and business seminars around the county to share information, legislation and case studies which I always find invaluable to attend. Just look on their websites or link in with them on social media to find out what’s on, where and when!

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, and Business Growth Hubs run many events, refer to websites for further details.

But also check out Eventbrite to see what’s on in your area or specific to your business sector.

Good luck networking and I may see you out there over the coming months!

If you are looking to review and then grow your business, Business Doctors Cumbria offers a free business health check to help you to establish a clear vision and understand the steps to fulfil your aspirations.

Book a free business health check: businessdoctors.co.uk/health-check

Contact Peter Fleming:

Call: 0845 163 1490

Email: peterfleming@businessdoctors.co.uk

Website: businessdoctors.co.uk/business-consultant/cumbria

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