June 16, 2016

Business networking has a world of positive benefits. However, with everything positive, comes a few negatives at least. So, without further ado, let’s begin with the positive/pros in support of business networking:

The first point on the up side is;

You’re being active in the accumulation of business contacts and letting yourself be seen. Many people complain that they are just not meeting enough of the right people to help in their career direction.

When you are actively involved in business networking, you are increasing your chances of meeting those right people. Furthermore, if you are networking correctly by sharing referrals, introducing people, and following up with those you meet, the rewards will speak for themselves.

The 2nd positive point is;

Your 1 on 1 people skills will slowly develop into expert status. This is a benefit not talked about a lot but through trial and error, building great relationships will seem effortless. Consider the fact that when your 1 on 1 people skills are adequate, you will see a phenomenal increase in the positive results you get using all other communication, for example; telephone, e-mail, etc.

3rd, on the optimistic side is;

After being consistent, you will notice your own center of influence expand. If you are engaged actively in meeting, communicating, and generally helping many individuals, you will be liked as well as respected. When these type of things occur, your center of influence grows and you will become well-respected by default.

4, on the high side is;

Networking regularly gives you the opportunity to speak a lot about your profession. You will have the opportunity to educate many people about what you do when you meet them. This situation causes you to be on your toes and more knowledgeable about your profession.

The 5th benefit of business networking is;

You are greatly increasing your overall options. While networking for better business returns, you will meet an abundance of individuals who aren’t directly connected to your goals. Meeting individuals like this can benefit you in other ways like; finding a good plumber, helping you to get hired at a new company, and any other specialist in a particular field. A personal referral usually holds more merit.

And now for the alternatives or the down-side/cons of business networking:

#1. If you are an extreme example of a socially inhibited individual, getting out and networking could be very traumatic for you. I’m not saying that it’s something you can’t overcome but it could very well turn out to be a not so positive experience.

#2. You may find several events that may not be to your liking. This is an occupational hazard of business networking in which you attend business networking events with high expectations but are disappointed by the outcome. As with anything, this is not justification to give up but it does happen.

#3. People in your newly found network been as receptive as you would like. It is very true that many people talk a good game …

The Business Development Strategy is used to underpin your main business plan and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts and then working to close them.

This document highlights the key issues you should consider prior to compiling your own plan and will hopefully guide you logically through a proven framework.

The key word is 'Strategy', because you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your annual target.

Your Starting Point:

The key words are Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? How?

For example:

Who – are you going to target?

What – do you want to sell them?

Where – are they located?

When – will you approach them?

Which – are the appropriate target personnel?

Why – would they want to meet with you?

How – will you reach them?

If you have connected regular account reviews with your key accounts during the previous twelve months, you should be aware of any new opportunities that will surface during the next twelve months. You will also, when assessing what percentage of your annual target usually comes from existing accounts, need to review data over the last two or three years. (It is likely that you can apply Pareto ie 80% of your business will probably come from existing accounts and in fact 80% of your total revenue will come from just 20% of your customers / clients)

You will be left with a balance – ie "20% of my business next year will come from new opportunities" – therefore you can then begin to allocate your selling time accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profiling:

Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal target at the front end – ie an "Ideal Customer Profile." The essential characteristics you will need to consider are:

– Industrial Sector

– Geographical Location (Demographics)

– Size of organizations (Turnover, number of employees etc)

– Financial Trends

– Psychographics – ie Philosophical compatibility

Many strategic sales professionals are purely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there's nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking an IDEAL and we can always improve on what we already have.

'New' Opportunities From Within 'Old' Accounts:

Because it costs approximately ten times as much, to first locate and then sell to a new customer as it does an existing one (although these costs are rarely reflected in the cost of sales), it is essential that we fully develop our existing accounts working Upwards, downwards and sideways, so making the most of the (hopefully) excellent reputation we have developed already.

Most corporate accounts have multiple divisions, departments, sites, even country offices and you must satisfy yourself that you have exhausted every possible avenue. Do not be afraid to ask the question " Who else should I be talking to in your organization"?

This is an extract from …