Marketing your business is an very costly activity so making the most of the business growth you can achieve through word of mouth is vital. It's not just about talking about your business either, it's much more scientific than and also much more structured.
Business networking is a massive growth sector and regular clubs and events are taking place all over the country. At it's most elementary, networking is about expanding your contacts, on a more formal level It's all about working with a group of people that you get to know, like and trust and as a result they feel happy to refer their business partners to you and vice versa.
The reason this method succeeds is that it builds upon people's inherent desire to help others. When you know like and trust someone you are all too willing to recommend them to others and in this way you are not only helping the person with the product or service you are helping the person who has problem to be solved.
If you are passed a referral you know you have more than a tentative sales lead. You have a ‘warmed up’ contact who has a need for your service and who is expecting your call. Because you have been recommended already you are more than half way there with getting the business.
It sounds great, and it is but there are still skills to be learned. If you are going to make the most of your networking referrals you've got to make sure that you get the right referrals. After all there's no point in somebody recommending your printing services if you're a graphic designer. What's really important with business networking is to get your pitch right so that all your networking partners truly understand what you do.
There are two related techniques to master, one is your “elevator pitch" and the other is your “sixty seconds". Fully understand these two concepts and fine tune your pitch in each situation and you're well on the way to getting the precious referrals that you need to develop your business.
Your elevator pitch refers to those first few words you speak when someone asks you what you do. It's vital to get this one right especially when speed networking so you've got to achieve three key results:-
1. Hook in your contacts so they do actually listen to what you're saying.
2. Make sure that you are clearly understood.
3. Make sure that you are remembered!
Preparation is the key, keep it short, go for one key message and make it interesting. Focus on what you ‘do’ versus what you ‘are, ’ in other wards ‘I help people by. . . ’ versus ‘ I am a. . . '
Say enough to elicit a question from your listener - once you've done this you're well on the way, after that it's up to you to present your service and your passion in the way that only you know how.
Sixty seconds refers to a more formal pitch that's often an agenda item at many business networking clubs. In essence it's an elongated version of your elevator pitch but there's more to it and you need to treat it as an extension of public speaking so different skills are required.
Again preparation is the key to making the most out of your minute in the spotlight so prepare well and make sure that your message is clear. The fundamental point though is keep to time! If you drone on, your audience will lose interest in you and your services and when it comes to time after the meeting everyone's going to steer clear of you. If you can, make it amusing, after all the objective is still the same, you want people to remember you.
There's lot's more to be said about these two fundamentals to effective word of mouth marketing but hopefully this will set you on your way to making the most out of the most cost effective method of developing your business.
Passionate networker Louise Yates shares business networking tips and advice for word of mouth marketing, generating referrals and sales leads. She also runs business coaching centres for business performance, life and career development.