Somewhere along the way someone probably told you that networking is a great way to build your book of business. And maybe you even tried it for a while, until you gave up on it as a business building tool because it just wasn’t producing results.
Networking – or network marketing – can help you build your book of business if done with strategic intention! Master your network marketing skills to find out how to turn networking events into new clients and referrals.
What is networking?
Your “network” is essentially all the people that you know and engage with in any way. When you think of it this way your network is vast. All the people you interact with in person and online – that’s a lot of people!
Networking (or network marketing) is a verb, an action. It’s when you intentionally interact (go to meetings, engage on social media, email, etc.) with specific people. The simplest way to think about is your local business networking group or maybe a Chamber of Commerce. When you attend meetings, lunches, coffees, etc., you are networking.
But are you networking with strategic intention? Most people aren’t.
One of the most well-known movie lines ever is from “Field of Dreams” where Kevin Costner’s character is visited by the ghost of a baseball player who tells him, “If you build it, they will come.” He goes on to build a baseball field where the ghosts of many famous baseball players come and play a game.
Most people approach networking the same way, thinking: If I go (to the networking event), they (new clients) will come. Which is why a lot of people give up on networking as a marketing strategy – because they keep going to networking events but they don’t get new clients as a result.
Just showing up at a networking event – or even showing up for months or years at networking events – isn’t going to mean more clients in your book of business. Showing up only guarantees you brand awareness, and maybe not even that. Because let’s face it, most of the other people who are showing up have their own agendas to work. The extent to which they pay attention to you or your brand pitch is probably somewhat minimal. Like you, they’re not going to the event to find places to do business, they are going to the event hoping to attract business.
Network Marketing Strategies that Work Have Strategic Intent
1. Define your intention.
“Get more clients.” Right? Sure, but that’s not specific enough.
“Get more female color clients.” Better!
Attracting female color clients is starting to sound a lot more like marketing terms like “target market” and “ideal client type,” right? This is what intent looks like. Defining the target market so that you can develop an effective strategy.
2. Develop a strategy.
If your goal in networking is to attract more female color clients, this isn’t going to happen if the groups you’re networking in don’t have very many women in them or don’t have many women who are likely to color their hair in them.
So the first lesson of strategy is choosing the right groups to network in, based on your intent. Alternately, you can define your intent around the groups where you network. In other words, based on the group’s make up, what type of clients could you attract from within the group?
The second part of your strategy is your value proposition. Now that you have identified a specific type of client you could attract by networking, what is the unique value proposition you will use to get their attention and interest? For instance, if your networking group has met the criteria for having women, and women likely to color their hair, your value proposition might be something along the lines of your ability to repair color mishaps or your ability to change their appearance so they can be more confident or successful in some aspect of their life.
Showing up? Brand awareness. “I’m here! I’m a Salon Suite owner…”
Value proposition? Get their attention in some way that connects. “… and I help women whose hair has been damaged by color or chemical processes to regain healthy hair while still looking their best!”
Now you’ve created the basis for a conversation with a specific type of client. The third and final step of strategy here is closing the deal with a call to action. Be ready to extend an appointment time. Make sure you have business cards with you. Ask for their card or contact information. Offer to talk more over coffee. Invite them to your Salon Suite for a free consultation to learn more about the services that got their attention. Give them a postcard with your new client offer.
In most local business networking groups you will probably be the only beauty professional. You ARE the expert resource. Go in to each networking event with a strategic intent and stimulate conversations that lead back to your services and solutions. You can do it!