For any company which works as a business to business service, such as security, accounting, and legal, networking is an invaluable tool which can help put you on the map. Meeting other businesses in similar or target sectors can not only help increase the size of your business, but it also lets you can valuable contacts in the industry who may be able to help you down the line.
There are networking events all over, from conferences to business lunches to even golfing. It’s simply the process of building rapport with a member of another company, usually one who has the power to make decisions within that company. Anyone from directors to managers is a valuable person to know, and even if your companies can’t directly benefit each other at the moment, having a future contact is a great tool to breaking into a market.
Most networking events are booked by a third party, such as 4networking, but the more personal ones are better organized by you or the contact. It’s great meeting a conference full of people to simply get their names and talk about your businesses, but to further that relationship, a personal meeting is needed. It’s surprising just how much business is a product of networking, and it’s a factor of human nature; people like to go with services and people they have experience with.
Business to business services always have a harder time with advertising than business to customer ones (B2C). Most businesses won’t go by adverts of leaflets, but will go with a service they trust from experience. That’s why for B2B companies, the best way of getting customers is by word of mouth and quality of service.
There is also the option of using business based social media such as LinkedIn to help your business. This is best to have an established profile, and use it to set up face to face meetings with a decision maker in a company. If a person looks up you or your business on LinkedIn, and there are a tonne of mutual contacts, then a level of trust is already implied; it goes a long way towards making a deal.
Other social media is not nearly as effective for business to business services, such as Facebook and Instagram. These platforms are not made for professionals, and though a great page may be there with informative content and proper structure, it simply doesn’t help much when it comes to networking. These types of social media networking are better to business to customer products and services.
A great way to make contacts in a target industry is by going to a conference about a shared topic, instead of one in either of your sectors. If your company is a business lawyer, and their company is pharmaceuticals, then going to a conference about data protection laws would be great, as would one about finance for businesses. Shared topics means that neither party is at an advantage, and makes for a much less ‘one sided’ conversation with an industry contact.
Another great but expensive way to network is by hosting an industry event yourself, inviting local businesses to have a chat with each other after listening to your business for a while. This is a fantastic tool for any business, where the potential clients come to network with each other, but you also have a room full of people listening to what you have to say. Again, even if the companies involved are not potential clients, they may be able to help lead you to more.
Think of networking like cultivating leads; by making a good impression on them now, in the future they will probably recommend you to their affiliates. Trust is a major factor in business to business services, as most would prefer to use one they already known and have a good impression of. Reliability is key here, and though another business may offer a similar service at a lower price, businesses tend to go with who they know and trust.