The Secret to Effective Networking? Do Less of It.

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It’s commonly said that there are four main ways to promote your business. Many rely on advertising, some opt for PR and others use cold calling as a means to generate new customers.

Over the last four years, we’ve found that Word-of-Mouth marketing works best for us. In fact, we estimate that up to 90% of new business has come from this method – this means that not only are potential customers making inquiries based on a trusted recommendation from someone else, but they are actually in the market for the type of services that we provide. And that’s vital, because it means we’re not focusing all our energy on trying to persuade strangers that they have to use us. Instead, they’ve already identified a need for branding and design services – all that remains for us to do is to persuade them that we are the right fit for them.

The networking groups that I’ve been involved in for the last seven years have been a significant factor in our Word-of-Mouth process. I’m currently a member of MarketWest BNI, which has a fair share of trusted businesses that I’m always happy to recommend. But it’s my more recent involvement in the Referral Institute that has really provided the focus that a small business needs. The courses and events organised by the Irish guru of networking, Alan Bell, have taught me that we should spend less time randomly advertising and cold-calling potential prospects, hoping they hit the right person at the right time. Instead, we should be clearly defining our target market and then focusing our energies on developing and educating a small number of referral partners to engage this target market. And the key to a good referral partner is someone that you can strategise with in order to help them in the same way. Because what’s more effective than you saying how brilliant you are? – someone else saying it, and especially someone who your potential client trusts.

It’s worth dipping your toe in this form of marketing: it’ll cut down on your marketing spend, and increase your success rate when you get to the point of contact with your customer. Have a chat with Alan at one of their numerous events and you’ll never cold-call a customer again.

Owen Barry

"I believe that too many businesses spend their time telling their customers what they do and how they do it. But rarely do they communicate the most important aspect - why they do it. When a customer believes in a product and service that you truly believe in, they feel an emotional connection with your business that will make them a customer for life."