Networking – Growing Your Business in 2017 and Beyond

Networking – Growing Your Business in 2017 and Beyond

Vince Lombardi, the well known and loved US football coach, is known, among other things, for his famous speech, “What It Takes to Be Number 1”. In a nutshell his central message is commitment; that to be a success in anything is to be committed to it 100%.

One of his quotes is this: “Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It’s something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.”

A couple of things came to me as I reflected on this and on the past two-plus years that I have spent building my coaching practice. Making a decision to do something and then sticking to it and staying on course was one of the keys to where I am today. I was fortunate enough to have had the financial ability to build a practice from scratch, gain the additional education I needed and to spend the time required to build networks. All of these took a commitment of finances and time but most of all it was the commitment to “go for it”. Not a commitment made lightly but one made after much thought and many discussions with people I respect and trust.

I believe the most important commitment I made was to network. I’m convinced that this one thing has been the primary reason for my success to date. I had no real connections when I started in the fall of 2014. My previous role did not provide me with a ready-made network of potential clients or influencers. In fact, I had not attended any networking events in years. I truly began from a standing start. However in short order I started to accumulate connections and build a network of individuals who have driven my business’s success. My number one piece of advice for anyone who is building their own business is to get out there and meet people, either in person or virtually – network like crazy!

“Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him?” – Vince Lombardi

Be prepared to put a lot of time into networking events. It may seem like they don’t produce any results at first, but trust me, they will. Keep at it, be present, and make sure you talk to as many people as you can, business card in hand. Be ready with your elevator pitch – why should these people talk to you? My rule of thumb for networking events if this: if I walk away with at least two business cards or contact information for potential clients or influencers, then it was a success. Don’t expect to be able to “sell” or even have an extended discussion at these events — there is often too much noise and too many distractions  — but do expect to connect with the people you talk to by proactively reaching out the next day to arrange to meet for coffee. That is the time and the place to initiate your unique sales approach.

Here are my key networking points:

o   Attend every networking event you can get to in your own and the surrounding communities

  •    Chamber after 5 events
  •     Downtown Business Associations
  •     Local business group lunches
  •     Get yourself invited to breakfast networking events (the first ones are almost  always free)
  •     Other regular events where your target clients/customers may congregate

o   Develop a quick Lunch and Learn presentation that you can offer

o   Join your local Chamber or Board of Trade

  •      Look for volunteering opportunities – Chamber Ambassador Programs put you in front of a great number of business owners

o   Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and other appropriate social media.

  •      Create a marketing plan using LinkedIn’s search feature
  •      Better still, use LI’s Sales Navigator

o   Contribute writing to blogs – create your own blog focusing on your area of expertise or interest

  •      Post your blogs on as many sites as you can that may attract your audience
  •      LinkedIn Pulse, BeBee, Medium, branded.me, Facebook….

o   To help you organize all these new connections invest in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application (there are several free ones; I use HubSpot)

  •      As you move forward you may also want to look at investing in an email marketing service such as Constant Contact. Mail Chimp is a similar tool that is free of charge.

As you read this list, you may hear a little voice in your head telling you, “That’s a lot of work…” or “That will cost a lot of money….” Yes, it is a lot of work and no, done smartly, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The biggest cost and commitment is time. Again, to paraphrase Lombardi, the number one secret to success is commitment.

 

Over the past two-plus years I have written and published over 70 posts on Leadership and Leadership development.   Click here to access my Leadership series directory:

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John Whitehead, coaches’ individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

*******Are you wondering if having a Leadership/Personal Development Coach is right for you? Contact John for a complimentary, exploratory coaching session at john@johnkwhitehead.ca ********