SME Business Tips: Network!
Thanks to the Manchester Evening News and the team at Pro Manchester for this plug on SME business tips and my philosophy on business networking.
I do believe that any business, not matter how large or small, can use networking to develop business leads. I know how precious time is – so I don’t think of networking as something that you have to always attend an event to achieve. Yes, business breakfasts and the like have a place and can be valuable, but if you don’t have time to attend, simply seize every opportunity in your day to share what you do with somebody new. So many small business owners seem afraid to do this. Don’t be. Be proud. Here’s the article on SME Business Tips:
Event management specialist Liz Taylor of the Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) explores SME Business Tips – the route to success for any company through networking.
I’m often asked about how I generate new business. How do I connect with potential new clients? Where to those lucrative new relationships emerge from? There’s one simple answer, and that’s networking.
Formal or informal, networking is key. Advertising has a place, but it’s expensive and nothing beats referrals for me. We don’t operate with a big a sales force, so networking and word of mouth are critical to the success of the business. As owner managers we can all too often be tied be to our desks managing the day-to-day of the company, so I appreciate that allocating time for formal networking events can be difficult. That’s why I see every moment as a chance to spread the word.
I am extremely proud of my team and the work amazing events we have created for our private and corporate clients, and I am not afraid to tell people about it. Whether it’s on the early bird train down to London, a business flight to Hong Kong or on holiday in Thailand, I talk to the person sat next to me, opposite me or waiting at the bar. Like any SME should, we spread the word about what we do at any given opportunity. It’s simple PR. If you don’t share your successes, nobody will do it for you. And, it works. I have generated a wealth of new business leads through this approach.
Related topic: Tips for a Successful Networking Event
I love social media networking too, it’s at your fingertips and instant, but for TLC it doesn’t work in isolation. Making online contacts is a valuable tool – but it’s a start. People still buy people in my industry, so face to face contact is essential. And so, organised networking events still have a real place.
Even if you feel you’re not good at meeting new people, these types of events bring companies and individuals in business together to share experiences and to make contacts. Pro Manchester operate great examples.
If you can allocate just an hour or two once a month to attend such an event, it will help. Just choose which ones to attend carefully to maximise potential. I ask for a guest list in advance, so I can be sure my potential clients are attending. Target who you want to connect with before you go, and make it your mission to do so. Research your targets. Ask the organiser for an introduction. Be prepared to be memorable. Exchange business cards. Engage in conversation that someone will remember you by – dull chat gets you nowhere! Once that initial connection is made, follow-up by linking on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and an appointment for coffee. It’s not rocket science, but you will be surprised how successful it will be.
So in short – whether it’s a post on LinkedIn, a chance meeting on holiday or a business breakfast, don’t be afraid to share what you do. SME’s need to shout loudly and proudly about what we can deliver. Take every opportunity.