When it comes to your business, making sure that that you’re making use of the people you connect with to grow your business is quite important. Business networking is what you might need to work on if you want your business to prosper. Having the right business connections with the right or wrong people can actually make or break your small business. To make sure that you get it right, you can use this article to guide you through the process.
With a place like Northampton, making sure that you’re well-connected might help you in growing and sustaining your business. If you feel that you might need some assistance with networking or if you’re facing related issues in your local business, we have just the tips for you that might come in handy.
Many business people face the problem of being unable to connect to the right people at the right time. Furthermore, even when they do meet people who are potential clients; that too at the right time; they are still unable to convert those into leads.
So, how might you possibly get on top of your business networking?
Select a platform that pays off.
In a town where the opportunities are endless, the biggest priority for you when building your network is the choice of venue or channel. Will you network face to face or take it online? Who are you looking to meet and where do they hang out? The “right” place is the one which has credibility and reliability. This is important because your platform has the power to bring you to your goals by propelling your business agenda. A great idea is to try different platforms and finally select the best option.
This may also include selecting events that will prove to be beneficial for you and your business. Events such as conferences, seminars and meet ups are just as essential as all the other things mentioned before. This is where you network with other people and make contacts which come in handy later. The point isn’t to go to any meeting that comes forth. There are many business group events going on every day. You should be able to select the ones which will benefit you the most.
Keep yourself updated with the market and create a presence
There is no consistency in sales. It is suggested to be well aware about the problems the buyers and consumers are facing. What can be done to fix them? This will not only help them, but help you in your business networking. Your business depends on clients, so you give them what they need or want.
People easily trust you if they know who you are and if your expertise is closely related to what you really do. It makes them want to operate with you and talk about you with others. Networking will create your profile and presence in the market, and if you strive hard enough by going to events and groups, you can be known as the best person to reach in your specific area of work,
Interaction tips that are tried and tested!
Share your experiences and learnt information with other people, especially the ones you network with. This way they tell you their experiences and information too. So, it’s a two-way process in which, through business networking, you get to know new things from those who have experience and expertise in that field.
When someone asks you about your business, instead of giving them with long extensive details, you might just create an interesting overview that takes about 10-30 seconds. This overview should be able to explain your concept, yet make them curious about the details. You can answer all the what, why and how questions by coming up with an attention grabbing phrase.
The purpose of business networking is to be around people who have the same enthusiasm towards similar goals. It is a great thing to do when you’ve just started out and need people to guide you and motivate you by sharing stories, tips and ideas. You might want to make the best use of that positively and enthusiasm and find inspirations.
You might want to start off by initiating a conversation, then smile and look around. You would want to look like you want to have a conversation and that you’re not avoiding contact. Your body language should not be stiff and uninviting. Try to ask others about themselves to spark up the conversation.
Be the presence that people remember. When you call people later, is it best when they remember you because of your personality and because of what you put out there. The aim isn’t to impress the people so that they like you; it’s to impress them so that they’re ready to work with you in the future. To have them contact you for opportunities, make sure that you carry your card because business networking can happen anywhere and you need to be prepared.
Another suggestion to how you can start the conversation by asking them what they do followed by questions which show that you’re interested in their work. You may ask things that go along the lines of something like: “So, what are the objectives of your company?” or “Is your business only within a certain area?” When you ask these questions, you might want to look like you’re listening to them and show an interest in what they have to say. You might catch something which can help you in the future. When they share a success story or an achievement with you, make sure you appreciate and congratulate them on their success. This builds a feeling of genuineness and empathy.
What you might want to do?
Select the right platform
Look for the right events
Stay updated with market trends
Make your presence known
Share what you know
Show interest in the other person’s business
Look approachable and kind
Do not forget to follow up
I hope these will be useful for you in creating a network that is bound to rise to bigger and bigger business opportunities for you.
Business networking is a key element to growing your company. One of the main reasons business owners start networking is to get new contacts and referrals which you can follow up with and hopefully convert into customers.
You probably hear a lot that making a good first impression is vital at networking events. You need to be confident and genuine to try to establish personal relationships with people in a short amount of time, which can be a difficult task to master.
Once you’ve got over this first hurdle of making a good personal impression, the work doesn’t suddenly get any easier. You put in the time and effort to generate a new business contact, but what happens after the networking event?
Most likely you will have exchanged business cards and if that new contact has a genuine interest in your product or service they will go on to research you online.
This will cover a number of things from your business social media, your personal LinkedIn and most importantly your website. If all of these elements aren’t up to scratch, you could be losing precious leads before you’ve even had a chance to try and convert them.
What makes a website give a good first impression?
The saying might go ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but this gets ignored when it comes to websites. The first thing that anyone takes notice of when they visit a website is the design; it takes about 50 milliseconds for users to make that judgement about your website which will determine whether they stay or leave.
That’s not a lot of time to make an impression and design can be subjective but it’s safe to say there are some things in your design that you can do to help ensure that your new contact will want to stay on your site.
Having a modern design
Old HTML websites are an immediate put-off for most customers, they make your business seem out of date and out of touch. They can also give the impression that you’re not willing to invest in updating your site and that you don’t take pride in your business.
Think of it in the same way you would going to a networking event – would you turn up in an old tattered suit? No, so why would you want to direct your new contact to an old tattered site?
Having modern sleek design shows that you are up to date in the digital world and able to keep on top of ever-changing tech and how it is affecting all sectors of business. Most people are also visual learners, wanting aesthetic design cues to help them absorb information; if you don’t have a great design then no one is going to take the time to read any of the content on your site because it will feel like too much work.
Once you’ve got past your 50 milliseconds, you have to keep your new contact engaged so they don’t get bored and leave. Colours, images, graphics and visuals can all help you do this. Choosing relevant colours to your business can help your new contact know they are in the right place and help convey a message you can’t with words alone.
You wouldn’t necessarily want bright bold colours if you’re in a serious industry like finance or law and you wouldn’t want too serious tones if you’re trying to sell kids toys – visuals can make or break a site and either enhance or diminish the message you are trying to convey.
Images and graphics are also a great way to engage your visitor. A picture can tell a thousand words but you need to make sure that those are the right words, using cheesy stock photography or generic graphics can make your site look spammy and your business unestablished.
Visuals are important but once your new visitor has decided they like the visuals enough to stay, now you have to win them over with information.
Your site isn’t just there to look good, it needs to provide answers to questions potential customers might have. Every single line of copy on your site should help your visitor learn something relevant to your business.
Talk to your customers in a way they will understand and in the language they use. Don’t overcomplicate things and use technical jargon, instead simplify your copy and make it easy to understand, using the language you would use if you were having a conversation with them.
Use data, statistics and quotes to help emphasise your point and add proof to your claims. Your website is like your salesman, it needs to convince new visitors that they should do business with you and using stats and quotes from external sources will help you to build trust and establish social proof with your new contact who doesn’t know much about your business.
Exceptional user experience
If your website is confusing, your visitors will leave. While you want to stand out from your competitors, going too far outside of the box and overcomplicating things will annoy your visitors as it will take up to much of their time to figure out where to go to get the information they need.
Your site needs to be well structured, using a clear navigation and pages with clear titles and subheadings so that information is easy to find at a glance. You should include obvious and direct call to actions to help push your new visitor along their buyer journey and give them a clear next step. This will prevent them from getting confused or frustrated trying to find the information they are after, and give you a better chance of converting them.
Page load times are another vital element of user experience. With information available to us at the touch of a button, there is a growing culture of impatience. Your new visitor is probably busy, they probably have their own business to run and don’t have time to waste waiting for your website to load. If you have met your new visitor at a networking event, do you really want to direct them to a site where they have to sit and stare at a loading screen rather than a site that loads instantaneously?
There’s a good chance that after handing your business card to a new contact at your networking event they might just look up your business there and then on their phone.
People use their mobile devices everywhere these days and more and more internet traffic is coming from them over a desktop. They are fast and easy to use and audiences from every industry want these quick connections. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile then your new contact will feel like you can’t deliver a quick and easy service. Once they’ve seen a bad mobile site there’s very little chance they are going to make the effort to look up your business on a desktop.
A mobile friendly site will also help you build your credibility with your new contact. Giving them a proper and seamless experience will help persuade them that you are a credible and knowledgeable source of information about your industry.
These days it’s now just considered best practice to have a mobile-friendly site. There aren’t really developers around anymore that will build you a site that isn’t responsive, working on a desktop, mobile and tablet. Not having a mobile-friendly site shows your site is outdated but can also put you behind your competitors. If there is someone else at your networking event that provides a similar service and has a mobile friendly site you are setting off from the start line at a disadvantage and will have less chance of converting that new lead.
Mobile friendly design also improves SEO. According to Google over 50% of their searches come from mobile and if you don’t have a mobile friendly site you will be penalised in the rankings as Google does not want to send its mobile searchers to a site that will not provide a good user experience.
Great SEO is hugely beneficial for business, especially at networking events. Imagine you’re at a networking event but you’ve ran out of business cards, or you’ve handed one out but the person has lost it by the time they get back to their office. How is that new contact supposed to get in touch with you? Chances are the first thing they will do is Google ‘your business + location.’
They might remember your business name, in which case you should have a decent chance of appearing in the search results but they might have forgotten it too. In that case, they will probably search for your the type of business you have (ie. carpenter, web developer, estate agent etc) and your location in the hopes to find a site with a name that rings a bell. If you don’t have good SEO then that contact is never going to be able to find you in the results pages.
Good SEO can also help if your new contact is looking into other options in your area, if they search for your key term ‘ie. carpenter Northampton’ and your business shows up top, it can reassure them that you are a credible company worth doing business with and be a deciding factor in converting them.
Why LinkedIn and other social media are important for networking
We are living in the digital age but a lot of business owners are still kicking and screaming as they are dragged into it. Not embracing new technologies and networking options gives you a clear disadvantage when trying to generate and convert leads.
LinkedIn is the social network for business owners; its strictly for professionals, no funny memes or cat videos in sight, and it’s become an imperative part of todays networking world.
All professionals should be on LinkedIn and its a great option for people to find and connect with you after a networking event, especially if they aren’t wanting to buy your product or service now but might at some later date. LinkedIn helps ease the networking processes by reinforcing the new connection beyond just an exchange of business cards and a handshake.
Through LinkedIn you can stay at the forefront of your new connections mind, you will appear on their feed and can even share helpful content that might help push them through your sales funnel. By having a LinkedIn connection with them you ensure that you are not forgotten and don’t end up just another business card thrown in a desk draw.
It can also add credibility when meeting a new contact. Your profile will show your work history and can reassure a possible lead that you have the skills and experience that you say you do. You might also find that you have mutual connections which can build trust and act as social proof.
While LinkedIn is great for building your personal brand and for networking, having an active social media presence can help establish your company brand and provide social proof for new leads.
When making any large purchasing decisions, people and businesses want to know that they are choosing the right decision is trusting your product or service and that it is going to work for their own personal or business situation.
Nobody wants to do business with a faceless corporation and establishing Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles can help you show your audience and new leads your brand’s personality. You can also use it as a place to interact and engage with your customers, providing great customer service and showing that you respond to customer feedback and genuinely care about your audience.
An online presence is vital for any business no matter the industry your in. By having a well thought out presence through great website design and engaging social media profiles you can use your presence to help convert your new leads you meet through networking events, ensuring you stay at the forefront of your new contacts mind.
How does Artificial Intelligence Help with Business Networking?
Artificial intelligence is deemed critically vital for the companies who are looking to extract value from the big data. This can be done by automating and optimising processes and using them in producing actionable insights that would be beneficial. Artificial intelligence systems help with business networking by enabling companies to leverage their huge amounts of available data online to uncover insights and patterns. These would be useful in understanding the needs of their clientele, enabling them to deliver more targeted and personalised communication to their clients.
If you are the owner of a company and need to up your game; artificial intelligence helps you manage your contacts, keep a good follow up and also seek out your potential customers. Here is how this has shaped the business networking
Networking with the Right People
Business networking can be quite challenging at times when you are reaching out to a relevant person. You have to do a lot of filtering; this may be time-consuming and draining on your mental energies. Usually, it is hard to talk to the right people without having to go through the hassle of obtaining their email and then waiting days for their reply. This is where artificial intelligence steps in.
Artificial intelligence-powered solutions have made meeting the right relevant people quite easy than it actually is. This is done by improving email open rates by doing an analysis on the email receiving rate of those certain receivers. These solutions also reduce your bounce rates by finding out the time when your recipient active. This is similar for finding out times for you to reach them on social media; by finding out when they are active the most.
Social Media and Contact Management
Businesses are all about networking. Managing a strong business network in the digital world is a challenging task today. With multiple communication channels, your contacts tend to become a real mess. This affects both your productivity and your ability to build a strong business relationship. Due to this, the impact of your network’s value suffers. Fortunately, new artificial intelligence-powered tools for social media, contact management, and networking solve most of these problems. They can also follow up on your existing and potential clients and provides you with a list of what is needed to be improved for your business network to grow stronger and sturdier.
Nothing helps to aid your business relationship in business networking like artificial intelligence-enabled contact managers. These transform your business network into a unified database that is easy to search and can be filtered. As these are intelligent systems, they enrich information about your business contacts by adding details about their profile, company, biography, skills, life interests and achievements. This kind of digital content managers allows turning your contacts into a timeline style data that can be searched through to find useful information. This is one of the ways that business networking is made easier by blending artificial intelligence with the help of big data into it.
Predicting Customer Behaviour
Today, companies consider their clients to be their stakeholders. The information about their likes and dislikes along with the supply and demand is what all business owners aim to achieve. This cannot be done if one is to communicate with each and every one of the clients and customers. However, this can be done by maintaining a log that manages and deals with the searches the clients make and things that they look through, this can be done with the help of artificial intelligence. Using these stats, the advertisement campaigns and customers emails can be sent. These artificial intelligence toolkits enable businesses to deliver more personalised and predictive customer experience.
Adapt to the trends
With artificial intelligence, business owners can easily adapt to the trends that are currently seen in the markets. This is a form of communication as the clients would want the company to stay updated with the trends in order to keep buying from them. When you have a lost identified of the trends hands on, it in turn helps you reach out to a wider audience and ensures better engagement with your content as it is trending. The relevant trending information is extracted from countless posts happening across the internet and social media. This data is then fed into advanced natural language algorithms, which helps the company to identify its target population and then facilitate its business networking.
Finding your Competitors
The rule of business networking states that you have to be friend with your competitors with the sly intention of gaining some inside news when you speak with them. This sly method is usually ineffective as the rivals are aware of this strategy as well. Long gone are the times when people used to hire a private detective to keep an eye on the activities of their rivals. Organisations are now investing in artificial intelligence to help them figure out what their competitors are doing and how well grounded they are in the market. This information helps in staying ahead of your competition. Business networking does not only have to stay focused on the business itself but also the business of your rivals.
Virtual Artificial Intelligence Bots
Are you tired of your secretary for being forgetful? Do you forget to follow up on people after you’ve told them you will contact them? This can be a major setback for your business networking.
Business networking has been made more optimised with the facility to have virtual assistance bots, and guess what? They do not forget anything! From scheduling meetings to communicating back and forth with clients, along with following up on people you meet, artificial intelligence bots can do it all. They can take your calls for you, reply to messages and emails and also give you reminders about things that you tend to forget. There are bots that book train tickets, reserve a seat on the airplane and book you a reservation for your date night.
Artificial intelligence is sure to help you reinvigorate your business networking skills to make it more productive for you. Today, if you are a business owner, not adopting artificial intelligence tools for your social media management, data management
Business networking has proven to be the backbone of social business activities. Entrepreneurs and business owners all over the world are striving to meet one another to strengthen their business bonds. This creation of business-oriented social relationships is found to help the creation of business opportunities.
As an entrepreneur, you need to become a skilled business networker. This means that you must be quick with making connections by being skillful with your words. The secret to being a successful entrepreneur is to have flawless and impactful communication skills. This does not only mean speaking well but is a combination of quite a few things. Here are the ten tips that will help you improve your business networking skills:
1. First impressions
They say that the first impression is the last impression. It’s quite true; first and foremost impressions do last a lifetime. In business networking, always try to make the best first impression and communicate effectively with a smile. The interaction you make when you first meet a fellow business networker is one that will stay engraved into their minds for a very long time. A person who has given a good first impression and an introduction that is impressive; is usually hard to forget.
2. Support other networkers
Always try to communicate with the people and ask them what dilemmas they face. Share your problems and lessons learned from past experiences to help them relate to the same level as you. Give suggestions to what you think will help them solve their problems. People really value that you understand their problems and also help to solve them. Sometimes, even the biggest entrepreneurs are facing problems that you might have a solution to. Who knows? Maybe that little advice you gave them benefited them enough to make them want to crack a deal with you!
3. Communicate to learn
To become an effective business networker you need to listen to others. No one enjoys having a one-sided conversation. Make sure you give others a chance to speak You might not quite be interested in what the other person has to say but remember, their thoughts are just as important as yours. Let them speak their mind as this will help you relate to their frame of mind. This information might come in handy while making better decisions if you might have a business deal with that person later.
4. Keep the energy levels up
Your positive energy can be used as an asset in helping you become a skilled business networker. Smile and give off the right aura. Become someone who tends to give positive vibes to those around you. This helps people build confidence in you as a person, which makes them want to carry out business ordeals with you.
5. Stay positive
Always stay positive around people. Never indulge in activities which may portray you as a mean person. Try staying focused and positive when meeting people. While interacting with people who you’re meeting for the first time, be very positive. Do not give off an uninviting vibe as most people tend to pick those up quite well.
6. Slow and steady
Never rush and try to talk too much to convey all the information about yourself. Yes, you may have many certifications from reputable institutions but the first meeting is not the right time to tell someone all that. Slow and steady wins the race. Make sure you don’t run too fast or you may come across as a preposterous person who likes to toot their own horn. Be humble, a slight introduction is all that’s needed when you meet someone for the first time.
7. Recognise and appreciate others
Appreciate and value even the smallest gestures and acknowledge people for what they do for you. Has someone shown up with a bottle of champagne of a bouquet of flowers? Make sure that you personally thank them. People who appreciate the little efforts done by other people are very successful. The best form of encouragement that you can give someone is to acknowledge their efforts. Who knows? Your praise can make their day.
8. Stay honest
Always stick to the truth and state only the facts. Don’t exaggerate or tell lies just to sound more successful. Stay straightforward and always tell the people the truth; not what they want to hear. Being honest might sometimes cause you a bit of a hassle for the time being but it can save you a lot of embarrassment in the long run.
9. Don’t forget follow-ups
Whenever you tell someone that you will call them or send them an email, do it. Forgetting to contact a potential client, partner or even acquaintance is considered to be a business networking suicide. If you want to earn the trust of people and influence them in one way or the other, you need to respect them. If you suffer from a bad memory, set up a proper system to make follow-ups.
10. Know the effects of what you do and not do
Always remember that networking is not only about linking to those who may be of use to you in your business ordeals. The network you build should not only consist of people that you contact when you need something. This selfish approach can result in negative results for you in networking. Networking works on the principle of mutual understanding, to be successful you should also help others and thus create an effective business networking.
Now you know what you have to do to make your business networking effective and better in the best possible ways. This will not only help you grow in your career but also help in nurturing your social skills. Social skill is an art which will in help you become a good entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneur.