Connecting to New Business

This week my husband and I attended a great networking event at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland hosted by Eastside Business Association, Northwest Journal and Eastside Entrepreneurs.  A couple of people there expressed their surprise that I would invest the time in a networking event.

Here’s a news flash – everyone – yes, even I – NEED to network. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” is certainly true and all of us who rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising need to be sure we are staying top of mind with out customers and potential customers.

I know a woman who attends 17 networking events a month to promote her business.  Okay, just shoot me now!  I couldn’t do that!  Few people can, but can you go to 2?  Pick groups that make sense for your business, go to the websites, look at the calendar of events and sign up for the next one.  Do it TODAY!

How to pick the “right group”? You are looking for a good fit for your business either currently or the business you would like to develop.   If your most profitable customers are in the restaurant business and you want more of those customers; go to events for the restaurant association.

If you have a lot of Lynnwood business but want to expand,  you might try the Chambers of Commerce in neighboring communities such as Shoreline or Everett.  It’s important to have a goal for your networking so you are targeted in the time and money you invest to attend events.

You will spend some money to attend events, the guest rate is typically a little higher than the amount charged members. This should just be a part of your overall marketing budget.  Remember though, you are there for business – don’t latch on to the first familiar face you see and waste the “advertising dollars” you spent by not meeting and connecting with NEW potential customers.

It’s easy to “market” from our desks.  Newsletters, e-mail blasts, Constant Contact, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites allow us to reach out and connect regularly.  However, nothing beats “face to face” for establishing new relationships.

People do business with people they like and trust, shaking your hand and looking in your eyes is the first step.  Following up in meaningful ways, sending the article you mentioned in conversation or a hand-written note will help develop the relationship and help you connect to new business.


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