Business networking, when executed properly and in alignment with your MSP marketing strategy, can net huge rewards.
When you master effective networking skills, you are in touch with powerful and influential and most importantly, the right people who can help you become successful in navigating your target market.
These days, it doesn’t count who you know. Rather who knows you is most important. Learning how to network effectively is a MUST for any MSP, large or small. You must learn how to make strong and mutually beneficial win-win relationships with your network and share the wealth. MSP business owners who understand how to share opportunities with their networking colleagues always end up on top.
Not every MSP business owner is a master networker. Many technical professionals are naturally introverted and striking up a casual conversation is often difficult and very uncomfortable.
Ulistic has some very basic steps to help you become a master networker and leverage business to business networking to build a healthy referral network.
Do your homework: network before attending a networking event
Before attending any networking event, do your homework. Who is going to be in attendance? What type of professions are they in? Do the majority of the people attending focus on your target market?
It will be quite difficult for you to network with everyone, especially when everyone is there to accomplish the same task as you. So it’s better to start way before the event. Try to get to know who the guest speakers may be and go through their LinkedIn or Twitter pages. Ask a few relevant questions to help prepare you for a chance meeting, this will also help you to connect with them.
Use your time efficiently
Not all networking events, conferences and trade shows will be useful to you. Inefficient networking is one reason many MSPs become frustrated with business to business networking. Find the right events that are aligned with your target market and the people in attendance will be focusing on obtaining similar types of prospects.
Keep enough business cards with you
The purpose of networking is to meet the right people who can get you in front of the right future prospects and leads. So whenever you get a chance, don’t hesitate to hand out your business cards. Keep some extra business cards with you so that you never run out of them.
Chose your networking clubs wisely
When I was running my MSP in Calgary I spun my wheels at the wrong networking clubs. I found groups like BNI to be a complete waste of my valuable time. Leads clubs usually are full of sales people wanting to sell you their products and services. Choose your leads or networking clubs wisely. Find a group that focuses on your target market and the people who attend are seasoned sales professionals with a proven track record.
Always follow up
What I used to do was thank everyone that I met at a networking event with a quick email, however those who I felt were strong networking allies got something a little more special. A hand written thank you card combined with a phone call proved to be a winning formula for building a successful network.
There is a major difference between networking and prospecting. Many of us attend chamber of commerce events or networking luncheons with a focus on getting leads. Getting leads is a result of networking properly and efficiently. When you attend your next networking event, put the focus on meeting the right people who can introduce you to their circle of influence. This will take time, but when done properly, the results are huge.
We invite you to book a complimentary discussion on how you can network properly with Ulistic. Email us or call 416.840.9106 ext 102.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.