How to Improve Your Relationship Marketing Through Networking
“Why do most people get it wrong?”
It’s a fact that 70% on average of new business is gained through referrals or relationship marketing. Networking is one of the most powerful forms of relationship marketing and cost-effective ways of building your business. Yet most people do not maximise this opportunity correctly.
There is more to networking than most people realise. In my 13 years of business coaching, I have set up and launched many successful professional networking events both here in Australia and in NZ.
The best networkers don’t just have amazing businesses and careers, they have amazing friendships and are always at the front of the line for new business opportunities.
Below are some of my best tips to help improve your personal networking skills and relationship marketing through networking. They will help streamline your relationship marketing strategy, improve your results and save you a lot of time and energy.
Relationship Marketing Tip #1 – Your strategy must match your purpose
Do you really understand why you go to networking events or business functions? Are you there to find a few leads to get you through the week? Are you there to collect as many business cards as you can so you can follow up on or are you there seeking potential leverage partners for the future? Perhaps you are just there to socialise and meet other business people.
There are no right or wrong reasons, but if you want to be highly effective at relationship marketing, clearly understand why you are there; what you want to get out of the event and then align the correct strategy accordingly.
Relationship Marketing Tip #2 – How socially intelligent are you?
Ever heard the saying “the loudmouths are usually the weakest”. Every networking and business event has “the loudmouths”. The people who can’t help telling everyone how marvellous they are, how brilliant their company is doing, all the massive deals they have lined up etc, etc.
According to Tony Buzan, creator of Mind Maps and one of the world’s leading authorities on understanding our minds, these people have a low social intelligence level (we have 11 intelligences in total, social intelligence is one).
Monitoring and assessing the interest, responding energy and engagement levels of your audience is a skill. It requires a certain intelligence to be a great networker and not bore your audience through self indulgence.
If you find yourself talking a lot, particularly about how wonderful you are doing, check to see if you are having a conversation with your ego or with your audience.
Relationship Marketing Tip #3 – Use the 3rd Person Endorsement Strategy
This is one of the most powerful strategies in relationship marketing. Standing up and promoting how wonderful you are, may make you feel great, but it has very little effect on your credibility. If anything, it turns most people off. Anyone can stand up and tell the world how wonderful they are. Getting someone else to stand up and promote you is the best way to build credibility.
Use this as one of your strategies. Always bring a colleague with you (several if you want to really leverage) to networking events. Ask them to introduce you and give you a “2 min” endorsement. This immediately establishes credibility and saves you from having to “self promote” or brag to try and gain credibility.
Bringing a team of associates along is a very smart way to maximise your opportunities. Instead of you trying to conquer the entire floor by yourself, ask your colleagues to endorse you in their conversations and indicate that they will arrange for you to contact them. Try this strategy, I guarantee you will be amazed at how powerful this technique works.
Relationship Marketing Tip #4 – Leverage the opportunity & nurture existing relationships
Most people come to a networking event to meet new people and grow their networks. This is great, but what most people don’t do is use the same time, forum and opportunity to develop, nurture and strengthen existing relationships.
All of us in business have supplier and client relationships. The strength and success of your business is directly proportional to the strength and success of these relationships. One of the best ways to build outstanding relationships is by adding an ingredient called “value”.
A great way to add value to these relationships is by inviting both your clients and suppliers to relationship marketing events. Why? Remember they are also in business and will enjoy the opportunity to build their businesses and expand their networks.
You become the ambassador of goodwill and of course are in an environment designed to strengthen and develop your relationships with them.
Relationship Marketing Tip #5 – You only get one first impression
Kids at school get taught to “hover and ooze”, a social acceptance technique that teaches kids not to just barge into a circle of people to get noticed. They are taught first to “hover” around the other kids chatting. After a while, they are taught to “ooze” in gently and join the group.
That’s the first part. The next part of your introduction is the formulation of other people’s opinion of you.
There are 3 things people use as a foundation to form an impression of you.
1. Your appearance
2. Your mannerism
3. Your first few words.
You have heard the old saying “first impressions count”. Well, within the first 10 seconds, people have already formed a basic impression of you. After 30 seconds they have begun labelling you and after 2 minutes an opinion has been formed of you.
So decide how you want to be perceived and make sure the 3 points above match accordingly.
Relationship Marketing Tip #6 – Design an Accurate Sales Pitch
If you can’t accurately and precisely describe your business in two to three sentences, you can’t expect your audience to understand and respond in the way you will be hoping. You therefore will not be getting the results you are seeking. Be careful not become known as a gas bag, because people will make any excuse not to speak to you and will encourage others to steer clear.
So, if you love to talk, make sure others are as interested in your conversation as you are.
Relationship Marketing Tip #7 – How much time should you spend per person?
This depends on your objectives. If you are scouting for correctly aligned future prospects then I would recommend not spending more than 5-10 mins with each of them. To make this time frame effective, you need to very clear on your objective and then effectively execute. Here’s how..
- Make a strong introduction and impression
- Say your practised and succinct sales pitch
- Listen for the opportunities and make beneficial suggestions
- Set and confirm a future meeting or follow up action
- Move on
If you are there to strengthen or develop a relationship (stage two after scouting) then you need to give the relevant party all the time and attention necessary to secure the arrangement you are seeking.
Relationship Marketing Tip #8 – Are you a vulture?
Genuine interest can never be contrived. People are not that stupid. Treat everyone you meet with respect and integrity. Listen to the conversation and focus completely on that person. If they are not right for you, then politely thank them for their time and move on. You do not have to spend 20 mins with someone who clearly does not align with your objectives.
The culture of the networking organization or the nature of the company hosting the events will determine how many “vultures” circle the events. “Vultures” are non-contributory and attend events for one purpose only “ What can they get out of you as quickly as possible so they can move on to their next victim.”
If you want to kindle a powerful business partnership, it is essential you have a contributory and giving spirit. A natural tendency to genuinely help others out. Trying to shortcut this step is fatal. You will be running your business on survival mode, chasing leads week after week.
That is why it is very important to choose a networking organisation that advocates a “contributory spirit” and whose culture aligns with your values. This makes the occasion pleasant, fruitful and sustainable.
Relationship Marketing Tip #9 – Become a powerful resource
If you want to build instant credibility and an “expert reputation” then become a library of resource. Give, help, advise, find solutions, provide direction, give more and do it with utmost sincerity. What happens when you do this? People are attracted to you like bees to honey.
Not many people are prepared to do this. They are more concerned about sorting themselves out. Try this and see what massive doors open your way. It really works. It is the natural flow of one of the most powerful universal laws we live by.
Relationship Marketing Tip #10 – Find the common links
When you are networking, try to discover as quickly as possible the common links between yourself and the other party.
This can be the person who’s introduced you, the fact that you’re attending the same event, or are in the same field. It’s whatever common ground you have, however slight, that lets you begin the conversation.
Once you establish the common link, immediately begin to offer solutions with a view to forming a mutual outcome or partnership. The commonality begins the bond and is a great starting point for solid, new business
Relationship Marketing Tip #11 – Be present in the moment
We are in the era of smartphones, social media and … stupid people. I find it so ironic that some people take the time to show up to a networking event in person and spend most of the time on their phone.
It’s ironic that technology was designed to bring people closer together that are far away but seems to take us away from people sitting right in front of us.
People feel welcome when they are heard and listened to, so put your phone on silent. Or better still, put it away.
Being present in the moment is key to earning trust and respect, which are requirements to building a strong business relationship.
Relationship Marketing Tip #12 – Stop ignoring the social part of social media
Stop using social media to blast your sales pitches and start using it to actually connect and build valuable connections and relationships. Most entrepreneur’s and business owners mistakenly use social media platforms purely as a sales tool. If you are looking to build a successful business, start using digital marketing platforms to form connections and expand your networks.
Today, we can access almost anyone from a device that fits in the palm of our hand. Consider connecting with attendees and organisers of an upcoming networking event on LinkedIn prior to the actual event. You can send a personal message saying you are looking forward to meeting them at the event.
This proactive approach signals that you are interested and serious about their time and yours.
Relationship Marketing Tip #13 – Do what 85% don’t. Follow up!
I am going to sound like your grandmother here but Follow Up. Over 85% of people do not get back to you after telling you they will be in touch next week etc.
If you are one of the 85% who fall into this category, rather do not promise you will call or arrange a meeting. Why? Because if you say you are going to do something and then fail to do so, you lose all credibility. So why bother in the first place?
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