Be Selective When Choosing Networking Events

Your time is valuable so you want to choose to attend networking events that will help you meet potential customers.  At these events you want to use your time to connect with people who are likely clients.  Networking is a valuable tool to promote your business and to meet potential clients.

When you are a new business owner you are looking to gather as many customers as possible.  As a new business owner you may be invited to join any number of networking organizations.  They will tell you how much business their organization has generated for members over the years.  This is fine if the organization has some connection with the product or services you hope to sell.  However, often these organizations have lots of members who are just like you – starting out with a new business.  These other new business owners may not have any need for your product or services.  They are attending these networking sessions for the same reason you are –  to drum up business for themselves. You want to determine which networking organizations will best fit your needs.  You want to spend your valuable time at events where there will be likely customers who want or need the products or services you offer.

The people who are likely to become clients are those who are small business owners.  You want to focus on the people who are going to make decisions.  These are likely to be the owners or those who work for small business and can influence what services or products are purchased by that company.

You probably don’t want to spend your valuable time at a networking event talking with people from large companies or from government agencies.  These people may not have any say or influence in what products or services their company purchases.

When you meet and talk with someone who has a small business you can ask some subtle questions to determine if this small business is a likely customer.  Try to find out if what you are selling is something that will benefit his business.  If your product or service will not benefit his company, then it is time to move on to another potential customer.  Be polite and friendly and make a graceful exit.  Then look for the next person to contact.

When you find someone from a business that can use your product or services try to find out if the person you are talking with is the decision maker or has influence on the decision making.  If you determine this person is the one who decides what product or service his company buys, then continue your conversation.  Try to develop a good rapport with this person.   Let him know how your product or service can benefit his company.  Don’t be pushy.  Let him see how knowledgeable you are and how you are able and willing to provide the product or services his company needs.  Always be sure you are promising to provide something that is within the scope of your capabilities.  Be truthful and do not promise to provide a service or product you are not able to deliver.