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Catch More Clients Using Strategic Networking
by Charlie Cook
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Is networking helping you bring in the new clients you want?
If you are like most independent professionals and small
business owners, you put hard work into getting your name out
there and distribute your business card wherever you go. You
may even attend a weekly or monthly networking group or
occasional business conference where people share leads. And
like most people, your time and effort isn't generating a steady
stream of new business.

The problem is that most people think that networking consists
of telling as many people as possible what they do, and
handing out as many business cards as they can. They waste the
few precious moments they have with new and existing contacts
by focusing on themselves.

Its possible to meet someone in the airport, hand them your
card after a brief conversation, and have them call you to
request your services, but this random approach is like playing
the lottery. You can't count on it to produce results. It is a
Push and Pray technique: you push your information out to
others and pray that they respond.

It rarely works. Your contact loses your card or simply forgets
about you, or the timing wasn't right, or, in spite of the
connection you thought you'd made, a single conversation usually
isn't enough to launch a client relationship.

That initial conversation should be about understanding your
prospects' problems, needs and concerns, and collecting their
contact information. The objective of networking is not to
expound on your credentials.

Spend the time you have with prospects (or people who might
know a prospect) asking questions and collecting information.
Then you can determine whether they would have any genuine
interest in/need for the solutions you provide. Use this
client problem centered networking strategy to initiate
and build profitable relationships.

Pull Information
1. See how many cards you can collect from prospects, and
don't worry about how many of your own business cards you
distribute. Some successful marketers don't even have a
business card.

2. When you meet people, use the time to gather information
from them, including:
Primary concerns about their business
Problems they want solved
Unmet business needs.
Areas where the solutions you provide overlap with their
needs
Their contact information

3. Continue to expand your network. Whenever you make a
contact, ask for referrals to other prospects.

4. Once you have this information, enter it into your
database or contact manager.

Build Relationships
1. People have short memories. Follow-up after your initial
contact and then stay in touch with your network on a regular
basis. If you let more than a month go by without making contact
they'll forget that you exist and that you are the best person
to solve their financial, legal, human resource, design, or other
problems.

You'll want to make personal contact with some people on your
prospect list, but in most cases, a letter, newsletter or ezine
will do the job. Use the merge function in your software to
personalize your mailings.

2. Demonstrate the value of your expertise or products by
sending prospects and clients an idea or suggestion they can use
right away. You could present this in an article you've written,
or one you've read. Your contact will then associate you with
the problems you solve.

Pull information from prospects and clients to grow your network,
stay in touch and regularly demonstrate the value of your products
and services.

Networking should be one of the core marketing tactics of most
independent professionals and small business owners. Use
client-centered networking to lessen your reliance on costly and
time consuming cold calling/telemarketing and advertising. Over
time, this business building strategy will reward you with a
steady stream of new clients.

2003 In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.
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The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps independent
professionals and small business owners who are struggling
to attract more clients. He can be contacted at
ccook@charliecook.net or visit www.charliecook.net to get
a copy of the free marketing guide, '7 Steps to Get More
Clients and Grow Your Business'


 
This article was submitted by - Charlie Cook Please Rate/Review this Article - Recommend it to friends

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