You can use business networking to increase sales effectiveness, but this might be a pipedream if you have no plan of action. The lack of such measures is why many individuals attending marketing meetings get disappointed. Active networking helps establish and deepen connections with old and new contacts as you discover more about your industry and markets. So how can business networking become a powerful part of an effective sales and marketing strategy?

Most companies have a business plan that addresses various core functions and operations, including marketing. However, less than 20% will invest in establishing a robust networking plan. If you think of how much business your company gains from word-of-mouth recommendations, referrals, and direct networking, you will discover these sources account for more than 80% of the incoming business. Therefore, if you do not have a significant marketing budget, and a substantial per cent of your business comes from these sources, you cannot downplay the need for a robust networking strategy.

Networking can be done online and offline, generating inquiries, providing useful information, and creating deep relationships. But many companies have an ad-hoc way of implementing this resulting in lacklustre outcomes. Below are tips on how to go about your business networking the right way and ensure you rip the benefits. If you are in USA it would probably be good for you to see ‘USA network online‘.

Know why you are networking

You must ask yourself the following questions to help you know if taking such measures is worthwhile. Rank the questions in order of importance.

• Are you networking to find new contacts or businesses?

• Are you networking to build or retain existing business and relationships?

• Are you networking to improve your career prospects, like finding another job within your industry or company?

• Are you networking to showcase yourself as an expert in your field?

• Are you networking to find and connect with other like-minded professionals?

• Are you networking to motivate your team and strengthen relationships with your colleagues?

Identify Your KPIs

The capacity to add value to your network is essential to being successful and ripping the benefits. When you meet someone interesting, add them as a contact and communicate with them regularly. If you can estimate how many connections you need depending on your goals, you can come up with a means of achieving your networking objectives.

For instance, you could be looking for new business connections and influencers. If you, your monthly action plan could be as follows:

• Reach out to 50 clients, asking them for introductions and referrals.

• Identify 20 potential clients to develop a meaningful relationship based on their online posts and the events they attend.

• Target 5 organisations that you can join and get to meet prospective clients.

• Identify 5 influential sales staff within an organisation of interest with whom you can connect and network.

• Get 5 introducers and ask them for referrals; then strive to increase that number to 10 by upping your networking efforts online and offline.

• Strive to have a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 75 influential contacts.

To increase your knowledge of your industry, market, and the things that influence customers to buy, then your monthly action plan should focus on the following:

• Request 10 key clients for feedback on the latest service and product offers.

• Ask them how to refine existing products or services.

• Reach out to 5 of your existing suppliers and prospective ones to know more about new products.

• Research 5 competitors to find out what you can about their pricing, marketing strategies, and target customers.

• You should strive to get a minimum of 15 influential contacts.

Identify Contacts

• You should list down your existing clients and pick out those you can ask for referrals.

• You also can make a list of influential introducers like accountants, directors, employees, and suppliers.

• List relevant memberships of networking agencies or organisations you are interested in joining.

• List the requests you need from these networking organisations to get feedback on the latest service or product offers.

• List the companies you want to develop a relationship with, noting down the job titles and names of professionals you want to connect with and the events they attend. Ask them to recommend occasions you could attend that they consider useful.

And there you have it, a basic and effective business networking strategy that will help attain your goals.