Stand still in business and you’re missing out on opportunity. Keep moving and sometimes each opportunity is not given enough time to develop. I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
Getting the balance right is crucial in effective marketing and sales, especially when networking.
This month’s article is on “The Business Dating Game” and I’ll share common mistakes and occasions where businesses need to do better. In Know My Business we listen to our client’s business proposition and then help with developing a more effective position and approach. This refinement can be quite significant in understanding how others view them and the value they can communicate.
So lets start by saying businesses often miss out on understanding where their prospects congregate. They fail to understand they maybe part of an association, socialise in a common setting, read magazines, social media posts or influenced by something else. Going to where the action occurs is first priority in knowing the types of messages needed. Once a business knows, it’s then onto positioning.
Just like personal relationships, business networking is about trying ways to improve your chances of being noticed. The elevator pitch is often seen as your first and final chance to make a lasting impression. But few businesses I meet add intrigue, humour or timing to that pitch. The result? Each pitch becomes blah blah blah de-blah blah. Have confidence is in your product and your message. Dare to be different in an ocean of other businesses.
Having said that, often businesses try way too hard to fit a perceived need. Sure a prospect could be your best type of business client, but is the timing right? I’ve seen poor approaches as a result of desperation. Small business needs to act like mid-sized business by being a little harder to attain their product or service. It doesn’t hurt to check if a client really does need you and there is a fit. They will respect you more, if for example, you think their business direction has changed.
Communication is the key and commitment is the longevity of a great relationship. Find ways to impress and find your true value, to then communicate it consistently and with passion. I once worked with a small company that was presenting an image of being a highly successful and growing operation. Unfortunately and without the CEO realising, it gave off too many connotations of being costly and process driven. They were failing to understand that their business prospects and clients were actually looking for better service working with a ‘boutique’ company. By revising their positioning and telling their target business that their growth was contained, to deliver better service, immediately communicated ‘value’.
Use of social media in business is patchy and sometimes the investment of time into the messaging channel is not clearly understood. Each message is a way of reaching your target audience. These messages are not just about trying to convert, but along the way, telling others where you’re going, where you are and where you’ve been. It’s not direct showboating, but sending positive and subtle messages creates interest. Some businesses do this very well by putting a corporate spin on the messages for an event (rather than in the first person), then follow up with putting hash tags and their own staff into social media conversations. It remains today a very effective and often neglected channel.
Last point for a networking event; be prepared and investigate who will be present. Having a clear understanding by using social media, intelligence from others, marketing material and other sources prepares your approach and reduces your risks of not having a clear understanding of what to say. I’ve found many organisations targeted by our clients feel uncertain in how they should make contact. To them we always suggest a plan is better than no plan. Poor conversation can affect their brand reputation.
Form a bond with people, not just the hope of a transaction. The business dating game is littered by short conversations that start and end too quickly. Make conversation to lead to the next conversation. Identify common viewpoints, events and people. Yes it is a courtship, and how act in the business community is always on display – and can referenced.
Next month Know My Business is sponsoring a roundtable on the theme of “The Business Dating Game” with business leaders. This event will cover the areas above in more detail and get viewpoints from leaders from other companies. The conversation will be insightful to open up numerous viewpoints on networking best practic