03 Oct From the Chair: Allstar Networking: How to Clean Up The Cash At Networking Events
By Matt Ward
Bad networking is rampant in small businesses. You see it. I see it. Everyone sees it. The problem isn’t that small business owners, specifically residential cleaning companies, don’t know how to network. The problem is that they just don’t have a focus or a goal for the networking event. They are often scattered and all over the place. When they do have a goal or focus, it’s often the wrong one.
There are many different types of people that attend networking events. Sometimes they are outgoing and extroverted. Other times they are shy and introverted. Connecting with others at networking events is about making it about them. People love to talk about themselves, so let them. Ask them questions that will bring out more information about who they are, what they do, and why they are at the event. It sounds very counterintuitive to spend all your time talking to others about them, especially when you came to this event to get more business. After all, isn’t that what networking events are all about?
Effective networking is NOT about finding clients at the event!
That is often the sole reason that business owners attend networking events. What we often see is that they are looking for the end user, the customer, to sell their services to. This is a losing proposition. You can’t network at enough events to bring in customers this way. There’s just not enough time.
But, effective networking IS about finding clients, right? YES. The key difference here is that we don’t want to be looking for our clients at these events.
Imagine being laser focused, knowing exactly who or what type of person you need to meet. Would that be more effective for you and your business?
We need to use networking events to find people who are in a position to refer us business on a regular basis. Most customers will refer 1 to 3 new customers over a lifetime. But our ideal referral partners (our Allstars) will refer multiple new customers per year! Finding and building a network of Allstars is your key to growing a powerful referral partner program, and making each and every networking event worth your time and effort.
Here are a few tips to get this rolling:
- Identify who your Allstars are. You can do this by simply writing down on a piece of paper (or viewing your latest invoices) and next to the customer name, write down how they came to your company.
- Find the common theme in the referral source, usually one or two people will rise to the top of the list. These are your Allstars.
- Figure out what makes those Allstars special. What industry do they work in? In this example, we’ll say that the Allstars we found work in the Appliance Repair.
- When you attend a networking event, ask others that are networking “Do you know someone that works in Commercial Insurance?” You will leave that networking event with at least 2 names of people that work in the Appliance Repair Industry.
- Follow up with the names. Meet over coffee.
Over time your goal should be to grow your referral partners to roughly 24. These partners will refer when they are presented an opportunity to do so, meaning that their contact has a need. They won’t be going out of their way to refer you, so don’t expect a referral each week. Once you have this network of people willing to refer you, now it’s about connecting with them on a regular basis to stay on the top of their minds and ensure that they have what they need to refer you.
I know what it takes to build a successful referral partner program, cause I did it when I owned my digital marketing agency. For the last four years, that I owned my agency, not a single new client came to us other than by referral. Think about that. All our new clients were referred. Everyone of them in four years! You can achieve this type of referral engine if you develop a plan that works for you!
When you focus your efforts on Allstars it makes networking more fun, more productive, and much more profitable.
And don’t forget to Live Happy, Smile A Lot, and #High5 Everyone Around You!
ABOUT MATT WARD
Matt sold his digital marketing agency inConcert Web Solutions in May 2018 to focus on helping service based businesses get more word of mouth referrals! His book “MORE…Word of Mouth Referrals, Lifelong Customers & Raving Fans”, focuses on building stronger relationships, and how we can use that to connect with others.
Matt is a professional member of the National Speakers Association, a 40 Under 40 Recipient and host of the business podcast Square Peg Round Hole!