A colleague asked us what marketing is to a business. We responded that marketing is everything! From your trade show display to the signage outside your business, to what you wear and how you network at events. Yes, networking is part of the marketing of your business. If you’re not teaching your team how to build a referral network effectively, you could be missing out on opportunities to attract your target customer.
- Define your target customer. Everyone isn’t your target customer.
- Dress to impress. Find out the suggested attire for each event you attend. There’s nothing worse than over or under dressing for an event.
- Prepare in advance so you’re not stumbling over your words when speaking to a customer or prospect.
- Keep up with current events to give you something to talk about other than yourself.
- Understand you can’t build a business alone. Think of your network as your business partners who are helping to refer target customers to you.
What is a Referral Network?
A referral network is a group people that understand your business well enough to refer prospects to you. They know you offer X. They meet people who need X and refer them to you as the best provider of that product or service. A referral network is especially important for small or start-up businesses who haven’t established themselves in the marketplace yet. Bigger businesses can benefit from the potential for bigger profits and potential partners.
Establishing a referral network is key to attracting your target customer.
Here are our Top Networking Tips to attract your target customer:
DON’T stumble over your words when someone asks you about your business.
DO have an elevator speech prepared and preferably more than just one!
What’s an Elevator Speech?
An elevator speech is a short description about your business, how it helps solve a problem for customers, and who your target market is. It should be short enough (30-60 seconds) to give on an elevator ride.
DON’T say everyone is your target customer. I remember a skincare representative telling me her target customer was, “anyone with skin.” That’s just not the case. There are some people with whom you want to work and others you don’t. It doesn’t mean you can’t, it means you’ve given yourself permission to not work with some people.
DO clearly define your target or ideal customer. It can be specific to industry or even a specific list of people. More than likely, it’s a description you create based on your list of favorite and most profitable customers.
DON’T look like you don’t care.
DO look like you want to be at the event. Dress to impress. Polish or clean your shoes and wear appropriate business attire. And don’t forget to smile; a smile could be the difference between you landing the deal or not.
DON’T keep your target customer a secret. No one will know how to connect you to your ideal customers if they don’t know who you want to meet.
DO tell contacts who you want to meet whether it’s specific people or industries or a wider picture.
DON’T make the mistake, like so many of us have, that you can develop a referral network on your own. You can’t build a business alone.
DO find people who understand your business and refer customers to you. This is especially important when attending bigger events. Your network can work on your behalf to connect you to your target customer; and you can do the same for them.
DON’T shove business cards in people’s faces. This is a pet peeve of mine. People don’t get to know you by a card thrown at them. Good networking is really about socializing and asking people more about themselves than telling them about you or your business.
DO connect with people by asking what brought them to the event. For smaller events you may ask how they know the event organizer.
DON’T forget to follow up with people you meet at events. All too often we forget and we’re losing business as a result.
DO follow up especially when you have promised you would do so. You will set yourself apart from the majority of people when you contact someone post-event.
Networking to attract your target customer doesn’t have to be complicated especially when you understand who you’re looking to meet. Be sure to train your team to communicate in a similar manner when they are at events. You don’t want to miss opportunities to acquire a new customer.
It’s not a secret that we love connecting you to your target customer by helping you create trade show displays that get your business noticed. The team at EXHIB-IT! helps customers brand their business marketing materials to set you apart from the competition. We pride ourselves on being a full-service marketing and exhibit resource for you. Check out our upcoming June 9th event, New Mexico’s largest Business-to-Business Networking Event, the 8th Annual B2B Expo.