Both online and offline networking are powerful forms of marketing that can drive positive results for your franchise. However, networking doesn’t come easily to everyone, and even those people who are comfortable working a room or striking up conversations with strangers can make mistakes.
The key to effectively leveraging networking to build your franchise is to remember that networking is about building relationships that hopefully, will lead to purchases, loyalty, and brand advocacy in the future. In other words, networking is just one stop that people make as they movealong the path to purchase.
Following are five networking tips that you can use to build your franchise. The sooner you put these tips into practice, the sooner you’ll see positive results.1. Put the Focus on the Other Person
The number one rule of marketing is simple: no one cares about you. They care about how you can help them and how your products and services can solve their problems.
You need to keep this rule in mind when you’re networking. Introduce yourself and describe what you do, but make sure the spotlight shines on the other person throughout the conversation
2. Speak Less and Listen More
Ask questions to determine what problems the other person has that your products and services can solve. Use the 80-20 rule in your networking conversations and make sure the other person is speaking for at least 80% of the conversation while you’re speaking for no more than 20% of the conversation.
3. Avoid Self-Promotion
As tempting as it might be to pitch your franchise to people at networking events, don’t do it. No one wants to hang out with a walking sales pitch. Instead, follow tips one and two above, and put the focus on the other person by asking questions and listening.
If (and only if) appropriate based on the flow of the conversation, you can end the discussion by mentioning how your products and services can solve the other person’s problems and make plans to follow up with them after the event.
4. Do Some Research in Advance
Don’t go into a networking event cold. Instead, learn as much about the other attendees as possible. This may involve doing some Google searches or connecting with people through social media.
If you can’t get specific attendees’ names in advance, take some time to read blogs, forums, LinkedIn groups, and so on that are relevant to attendees and get an understanding of what’s important to them. It’s a great way to jumpstart conversations with new people when you arrive at the event.
5. Exit Gracefully
Networking successfully requires making a lot of quality connections. If you’re attending a trade show or local networking event, you don’t want to get stuck talking to the same person all day, even if they are really interesting. You simply won’t get the ROI on your event ticket price or your valuable time that you need.
Instead, spend enough time with each person to learn about their needs and goals and open the door to follow up with them after the event. Shortly after you’ve gathered that information, exit the conversation gracefully and introduce yourself to a new person.
What works well for you when you’re networking to build your franchise? Leave a comment and share your tips.