Successful Networking with Less Legwork

By Brandon Dempsey, an EO St. Louis member and partner of goBRANDgo!

Five Ways to Land the Clients You Want

Finding clients is hard work. People run from event to event, collecting stacks of business cards, praying someone, someday might actually call on their services. Unfortunately, they’re probably wasting their time. Simply meeting someone at a networking event doesn’t automatically ensure success.

In my early days, I went to eight networking events a week, on average, accumulating hundreds of business cards and promising myself I’d develop an awesome email database. But I never had time… because I was always networking! I was sprinting around, making just enough money to scrape by and never getting ahead. Ultimately, I learned that building an active network of clients takes time and a planned system. I developed five guiding factors, making my networking experience much more profitable. Use these suggestions to become better connected – with a lot less legwork:

  1. Decide Who Needs What You’re Offering

Who has the greatest ability to buy your product or service? Is it a consumer, a small business owner or a corporation? Once you can see your target, it’s easier to determine who in the organization would want your help. Is it the CEO? The CIO? The HR department? Once you have that narrowed down, look at who is most likely to pay for your offering. This better directs your sales pitch.

  1. Hunt Smart: Ducks Live Near Water

You wouldn’t hunt ducks in the desert – ducks need water, so you’d hunt near a pond or a lake. “Hunting” clients is exactly the same. If you’re hunting upper-level, corporate types, you won’t find them hanging out at small business networking events. They spend their time at professional development seminars or peer-to-peer networking events. Whoever your ideal client is, find out what they need for success, and go to events that cater to that need.

  1. Become the (Perceived) Expert

An expert is just someone who knows more than someone else on a given topic, and people want to deal with experts; leverage this by becoming the (perceived) expert. When I started my first company, I was 22 years old, trying to convince MasterCard that I knew what the heck I was talking about. I had to become the expert. Perception is reality – if people believe you are the expert, then you are. Achieving this means researching and spending more time studying an area of expertise than your audience does. After that, you let people know you’re the “go-to” person by  contacting specific organizations and offering to speak. Aggregate and repost all the statistics and research on your expertise from across the internet on your own website. Write articles and submit them to different publications, peppering industry magazines and blogs with your expertise. Speaking engagements and published articles become third-party endorsements that change prospects’ perception of “another nobody trying to sell something,” and your target market sees you as the expert.

  1. Get Involved

Get involved in organizations, boards, committees, volunteer efforts, or whatever your target market does in their spare time. Affiliation with organizations helps establish credibility and places you next to individuals you want to do business with. Involvement provides a structure and a regular meeting schedule that forces your target market to interact with you on a regular basis. The more time you spend with people, the better relationships you have, and over time, those people hire and refer you.

  1. Build/Execute Your Sales System

In their eagerness to make the sale, most people allow their prospect to define the scope, the work, and the value of their service. Your sales system should reinforce your credibility with your target client, increase the perceived value of your product, and allow you to charge the right price. When you have a system, you sell value, irrespective of cost. When you have a system, you walk with the prospect through your offerings and value proposition, setting up a specific meeting to discuss scope and pricing. This is a conscious effort on your behalf to present value and respectability, rather than asking for it.

To sum it all up:

Perceived Expertise + Visibility = Credibility

Credibility + Sales System = More Clients.

By following this formula, I increased my number of prospect meetings, closed sales, and- most importantly– money earned.

Categories: Business/Finance Tips members Networking Partnerships

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