I have been networking a lot actually. To the tune of being out of my office most of the day every week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I started doing this because I wanted to grow my company and needed a new avenue to do this. I did not realize the efforts it would take or the response that I would get.
First thing I did was to search Google for “Networking Denver” and found a couple of groups. Each one was completely different but they all promised the same thing. So, I started showing up.
The first event I went to was strange, because I was not ready to sell myself and my company to a group of complete strangers. The way the group worked was to have a 30 second commercial about what you do, but to stand up in a group of 30 people to give this commercial. I was nervous and it showed. Oh well, a couple people nicely acknowledged me and I had one 30 second commercial under my belt.
I went to another group which was a brand new leads group. We sit around a table with 8-10 people and chat about our businesses, also giving a commercial about what we do. The pitch is getting better and the group has a lesson about giving pitches which helps.
The third group I checked out right away, is one that many people know as a pretty strictly controlled leads group. While this was the case that they keep stats, the group was cool and the people very welcoming.
None of these groups are altruistic, meaning that they charge money for their time and for organizing the events that they put on. This is understandable, seeing as many altruistic events tend to be more social affairs and less favorable for conducting business or making those kinds of contacts that you need. I have gotten leads from social events like Tweetups but they are for fun and no one really wants to talk business.
The net result of all this networking so far has been very positive. I am getting 10-20 calls a day, between 50-80 emails a day, and 2-3 estimates per week. Some are just people checking up to learn more about my company and some are people who actually are interested in hiring us.
All of these leads and contacts are amazing, especially after coming off of a two month slump where we basically were doing internal projects and finishing up the last bits of remaining projects hoping that something would walk in the door. Obviously, that’s not the ideal situation and not the way to run a business. We of course believe we provide a quality service that is worthwhile to our customers, the issue was just not being in front of those customers. We relied too heavily on our reputation with our current customers and our current network without realizing the need for network growth.
There are a couple strategies and unspoken rules I have learned or discovered about networking that I have picked up or that I have been taught that I find really interesting. I’m going to be writing these up as I think of them. My intention with these networking posts is not to toot my own horn, it is solely to chronicle the things that we have seen as a result of going to so many networking groups and meeting so many people.
I have tended to avoid sales whenever possible and so traditional sales tactics bug me. The pushy, “You must get this” sales approach is one that drives me crazy and makes me want to scream. So, I take a totally different approach. One that I thought was original, which of course it wasn’t. It is a sales approach that I see some very successful people doing and I see people responding to very well. Being in these networking groups, or even just visiting them has solidified in my mind that the pushy sales approach is a path to failure unless you are selling to weak minded individuals who lay down to any sales tactic. Personally, I prefer strong minded people who know what they want and like to make their own decisions. More on this later, of course.
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