We all know the saying: it is not WHAT you know, but WHO. Establishing and expanding your own network of contacts is essential for the development and success of your company. When it comes to making contacts, the classic networking events are considered the essential. Is this really necessary? I doubt this truism of the business world.
Right from the start of your career – whether as an employee or as an entrepreneur – we are taught: go to as many networking events as possible! Talk to at least five people per event! Making contacts at these events is the only way to find customers and thus build your business.
And yes: this is also true. But there are also many other ways to make contacts and get to know customers. Here are 4 alternatives at a glance.
Take part in training or courses
So you can kill two birds with one stone. Not only will you acquire valuable new knowledge during training or courses; you will also meet lots of new people. This automatically gives you something in common with the other participants and makes it easy for you to get into conversation with them. This is perfect for shy people who feel uncomfortable with traditional networking.
The only problem is that courses can be quite expensive. In addition, networking is secondary to a course: the first priority is the relevance of the course content for you and whether it is worth attending. This kind of networking should not be the main part of your networking programme, but rather a useful addition.
Meetups are very popular. For every interest, hobby and professional group, there are Meetups in the larger cities where you can meet like-minded people (or: people who belong to your target group) for an exchange. Many Meetups are even free.
Sometimes at traditional events you don’t know in advance whether your potential customers will be there. Investing your time in this way can be subotimal. With Meetups you can be much more targeted. The disadvantage is that these Meetups usually take place in larger cities. If you live outside the city, it might be difficult to attend these meetings.
On this website you can easily find meetups in your area: meetup.com
Less is sometimes more
Perhaps you already have some well-functioning customer relationships and simply wanted to expand your customer base through networking. This is not a bad idea, because the more customers you have and the more sources of income you have, the better your risk is spread. If one customer drops out, this does not threaten your existence as much as if you earn all your money from only 2 or 3 customers.
On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to have a slight focus on your best customer relationships. Call the customers you work best with and ask if you can help them with anything. Or think about other products or services you can offer them to add value. Since you already know your customer and his needs well, there is already a foundation on which you can build. You know where the opportunities lie and therefore how to best use your resources – that is efficiency!
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