Many small businesses rely on word-of-mouth referrals as their main source of new business. However, obtaining referrals has become more difficult since the onset of Covid-19. Social distancing guidelines have greatly decreased the number of business networking events. Conventions, trade shows, and group gatherings have been canceled. While some business networking events have gone virtual, these events typically don’t generate the same excitement or attendance as in-person events. Business networking strategies have changed, so it’s time to modify your networking practices in response.
What is Business Networking?
The goal of business networking is to bring together business owners and sales professionals in a way that creates awareness of the products and services they sell. Networkers have an opportunity to support fellow entrepreneurs by passing referrals.
Networking happens in various ways:
- Organized meetings (like HBBA or BNI) provide a structure for networking. Each member promotes his or her business for 60 seconds, followed by a 10-minute presentation by a featured speaker. Members are expected to pass referrals.
- Social networking events (like business after hours) provide a casual atmosphere for networking.
- Educational events (like business seminars, trade shows, Lunch ‘N Learns) provide opportunities for networking before and after seminars.
Alternatives to In-person Networking
Here are three suggestions to expand your business network, even during a pandemic
Here’s a tip I learned from my amazing mentor, Tony Hoslet, president of Sandler Training, Green Bay. He encouraged business leaders to leverage LinkedIn by introducing their contacts to their LinkedIn connections. Hopefully, these contacts will extend the same courtesy in return.
Introduce Your Contacts to Others
Develop a list of “amazing” contacts, then create a survey listing these contacts and their products and services. Distribute the survey to others. When you see the results, introduce your contacts to the individuals interested in their products and services. If your amazing contacts are truly amazing, they will offer you the same courtesy to you.
Share Your Network with Prospects
Add the same survey to your prospect screening questions to add value for new clients. In return, you develop a reputation as someone interested in your new prospect’s success.
Successful networking requires a givers gain philosophy, so be willing to give more than you take. When you receive a referral in return, be sure to be appreciative. After all, someone trusted you enough to send a referral your way. Before making a referral, confirm that the prospect is a good fit for the company. Also, be sure that the company is accepting new customers, clients, or patients. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by making unsuitable referrals.
Keep the B2B Sales Flowing
Just because social distancing put a damper on in-person networking, that doesn’t mean that business networking is dead. These strategies will help you keep the sales funnel full, even in the most challenging times.
Request a Free Email Intro Template
We love making connections and meeting new people. If you are interested in any of these tactics and would like to receive two FREE email introduction templates (one for making an introduction and one for responding to an introduction), Contact Us today. Put “Networking Templates” in the subject line and tell us a little bit about your business. We will send you two FREE email introduction templates. Happy Networking!