The Secrets to Effective Business Networking

Tag: social networking

The Secrets to Effective Business Networking

The Secrets to Effective Business Networking

In today’s super-connected world, networking is of utmost importance for promoting your business. The process of networking basically involves interacting with a varied group of people in order to form mutually beneficial relationships. While the art of networking does not come natural to many people, it can be easily learned and honed. Here are some of the tips to help you connect with other people and network better to take your business to new heights.

  • Expand Your Horizons: Generally, attending industry conventions and meetings are touted as good networking options. However, the focus on your own industry may prove to be limiting in today’s world. In order to create more meaningful networking relationships, you should step out of your industry borders. When you interact with people from other industries as well, you become aware of broader trends and may even discover new synergies which may have not been exploited by your competitors.
  • Give First: While networking is considered to be a mutually beneficial relationship, it is important that you don’t overdo the ‘taking’ part. Make sure that you clearly state the advantages you can bring to your collaborator. This will help both of you in creating a more meaningful relationship. This approach will also ensure that your network lasts longer than the networks which are created with a lopsided approach. So, it is important that you are able to bring more to the table, helping build a cordial environment.
  • Customize Your Networking Plan: There is no one networking plan that will work for all. You should design your networking strategy as per the industry you are in. Further, the life stage of your business will also have a strong influence on your networking pursuits. If you are looking to expand your business internationally, then it is advisable to join cross-border chapters of your target organizations, instead of being a part of local centers.
  • Design Your Elevator Speech: This refers to a concise and clear statement of introduction. The concept is especially important for networking as you need to grab the attention of your target in a short period of time. Instead of rambling on and on about yourself and your business, you should prepare a short speech which can provide the vital information to your new acquaintances. The ideal length of an elevator speech should be around 30 seconds and it should contain all key information.
  • Ask for Mentorship: You can easily elicit a positive response from people when you seek their advice. It provides a soft start and helps make your new contacts feel more comfortable. With this type of opener, you can put your new acquaintance at ease, helping them understand your requirements in a better manner. Further, you also get to keep your options open. For example, if you are looking to start a venture in a new market, ask them for marketing advice. This way you can get some unique and creative ideas.
  • Follow Up: All these endeavors are in vain if you are not following up with your leads and contacts. This is important not only for new contacts but also for older networks which may need some reviving. You should ensure that you periodically get in touch with your collaborators and keep them aware of the latest happenings in your professional life. With this step, you can ensure that your relationship with them remains fresh. Whenever you meet a new contact, make sure that you send them a thank you note, to show appreciation for their time.
  • Remain Active: Networking is not a one-time endeavor, but rather a continuous process. Your network has to keep evolving with time. The art of networking should become a part of your personality so that you are able to connect with people, irrespective of the set up. Some of the best contacts are generally made at unexpected places and through chance encounters. Always keep an open mind and friendly approach towards people and you will be able to grow a meaningful network in no time.

The art of networking is a useful skill that can help you tremendously in your professional life. With the above tips, you can not only start your network but can also nurture it with a long term approach.

The importance of knowing your customer

The importance of knowing your customer

Whenever we are given a chance to describe our customer, the first thing we think of is demographic traits. 22 – 55, single, female living in a particular location. But is a statistical summation good enough to make business decisions? While this was true for the early days of eCommerce, things are different today.

Thanks to social networking sites, we are also privy to behavioral trails like their interests, hobbies and shopping patterns. That’s as far as the data available goes. But what about interpreting that data? How can we understand what is driving this person behind the computer to buy or not buy our products?

Several companies create an inside-out customer-first culture for their business. It’s a difficult trait but here are some points to help you get started:

  1. Map your customer’s journey

Your customer may visit your store and buy the product online or shop from your app. To do this, they may have either watched your TV commercial, heard about you on the radio, read about you in the papers or seen a social recommendation from a friend. In the era of omni-channel marketing, you’ll have to cross align channels with the phase your customer is in to see if each channel is working optimally.

The steps in the sales funnel for eCommerce include Discover, Explore, Gain Interest, Purchase intent, actual purchase and after sales support. When a customer reads about you on social media, they could be any one of the above phases. You’ll have to step back to see if your social messages are catering to customers in each segment equally.

  1. Listen to uncover insights

Survey tools have evolved over the years to go beyond the simple Google form. Instead, they now pop up at the right stage in a customer’s journey to gather valuable feedback. The only caveat is that you need to be able to ask the right questions.

If you ask your customer what they think of a new product line you’ve launched, you’ll probably get many answers that you want to hear depending on how you’ve framed the question. Instead, if you actually look for purchase patterns and interpret analytical data, you’ll get to know what your customers are actually doing. Listening to these patterns will allow you to tweak your product offering.

  1. Leave assumptions in the hallway

Even if your eCommerce business is successful, there is always room for improvement. There is always the issue of cart abandonment. You’ll still have to figure why only a fraction of your traffic goes on to become your customer and what happens to the rest.

The only real way to get your answers is to speak to the customer. You’ll have to zero in on a group, go in without fixed questions and let them do the talking while you walk away with insights that can be converted into action points.

  1. Go beyond heat maps

The analytics heat maps from your eCommerce website tends to show you a rough picture of where your customers are looking. But what does it tell you about their real time navigational choices? How are they examining products and charting their decision making journey. Which part of the cart is throwing people off? Are the taxes or shipping charges coming as a surprise? Are people unable to use their coupon code? Is your payment gateway (link) working as it promised?

To know answers to such questions observe how customers work in a focus group rather than just historic data.

Conclusion: After connecting data points with individual behaviour, the ongoing thing that you need to do is keep talking to your customers and check for feedback. The proactive approach to understanding your customer will be the difference between you and your nearest competitor.