Customer Relationship Management

Why Your Networking Strategy is Failing You

networkingThis week I was in attendance for Techmakers, a fantastic regional networking event that combines a great speaker followed by active networking with technology professionals in the region. The speaker this week was Tony Scelzo, founder of Rainmakers – the parent organization to Techmakers.

Tony and I share enthusiasm for our networking – his offline and mine online. He’s been able to build an incredible network of over 1,700 members here in the region and is now expanding nationally. I feel like I’ve built an incredible network online… but continue to learn a ton about networking from Tony.

One of the keys of Tony’s presentation is that 80% of your new clients won’t come from your immediate network. Too many people join networks and attend conferences or events hoping to leave with a pile of prospect cards. The reality is that networking requires more than one strategy – Tony has broken them down into four:

Four Networking Strategies

  • Food Chain – are you connected with other professionals that service the same audience? For our agency, IT professionals, attorneys, accountants, investors, etc are others present in the food chain. I need to continue to network with those folks so they can refer clients to our organization.
  • Events – are you aware of the events that happen internal to an organization that trigger the void that your product or service can fill? For our agency, the event with three of our key clients has been a new Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing. We need to be aware of when marketing exchanges hands at companies so we can be present to help the new leadership.
  • Influencer / Decision-maker – who are the influencers? Sometimes it’s the business owner but many times there are people working within departments that have a huge influence on a company’s external purchases or hiring. For us, these could be developers, sales engineers or even CEO’s. It’s important that we network with those people so we can get a warm introduction internal from time to time.
  • Niche – nearly every company has a niche that they do well within. Ours is technology and Software as a Service organizations and the firms investing in them. Because our agency has so much SaaS experience, we understand the language and internal workings of these companies – so our ability to execute strategies isn’t slowed by learning the business model or internal processes of those organizations. We simply hit the ground running.

There are three actions you can request on your network – introductions, referrals and recommendations. Depending on your relationship with the primary contact, don’t hesitate to request the right type… with a recommendation only coming from the strongest of connections.

As you think about your online networking and the target audiences you’re wishing to reach, are you taking into consideration these secondary connectors? You should be!

2 Comments

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    Nice post, Doug. Face-to-face networking is both a science and an art. You summary of Tony’ Scelzo’s four potential sources of business reminds me that I always need to be looking for :

    -Other professionals who call on the same potential clients that I do
    -Events that cause potential clients to need my services
    -The human beings who make the decisions to spend money on my services, along with industry influencers – This one’s tough; they are often totally different people that speak a totally different “language” than the end users of my services.
    -The specific types of companies and people within that benefit the most from my service.

    This is obvious, but not easy. But applying this science purposeful face-to-face networking is the key to more business.

    Jeffrey Gitomer says: all things being equal, people buy from people they like. All things not being equal, people still buy from people they like. Marketing technologies, automation plus networking (human interaction) equal success.

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