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Business Networking 101

Most business owners know there’s value in face-to-face networking. But where do you start for successful business networking? Here’s a quick and dirty guide.

Ideal client

You have to start with some important questions: Who is your ideal client? What problem(s) do they face? What other professionals might they come into contact with?

Your goal is to build relationships with referral sources. You want to get to know the folks who know and work with your ideal clients.

This may be rudimentary for you. But too many people miss the point of business networking. You’re not looking for clients. You’re looking for referral sources. Huge difference.

Meet people

Now just go to events. Meet people. Find those referral sources. You can visit BNI groups and get a feel for them. Probably can be a Chamber visitor for a while too. Look for free groups at places like Meetup. Once you start meeting folks, you’ll find out about more groups & events than you can possibly attend.

I think there are two keys here:

  1. Don’t burn yourself out. Set a reasonable goal for each week/month, and stick to it.
  2. Don’t get in a rut. If you’re seeing exactly the same people each and every week and they aren’t good referral sources for you, change it up.

Note: If you are an attorney, check your state’s ethics rules before joining any group. Some states have published opinions against lead-sharing groups like BNI.

Build relationships

Finally, once you meet some good referral sources, you have to get to know them *individually*. Invite them to lunch / breakfast / coffee / dinner / golf / whatever. Learn about their business. Educate them about yours. Keep in touch with those folks. Keep yourself in their mind. Make sure you’re the guy they think of when you’re ideal client crosses their path.


Rinse and repeat. It will take time for actual business to come along. But if you’ve truly built relationships with the right people, it will work.

If you don’t get business after you have some strong relationships built, you may have to re-evaluate your referral sources. Perhaps they weren’t the right fit for your business after all.

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4 Responses to “Business Networking 101”

  1. Andrew Sullivan
    April 22nd, 2010

    hey, very good information provided in this blog post on making clients & building up strong relationships with them & which will surely provide the good results to us. I really needed this information & you have given all tips in this post. Thank you!

  2. NP Jara
    May 24th, 2010

    I had to smile at the phrase “quick and dirty guide”. These are very sound tips. I do these and have found them useful in my line of work. One more tip I’d like to add, “Never forget to bring your business cards!” You have to give people easy ways to contact you in the future. I’ve been to events when some people have to scramble for pieces of paper to write their contact details on. That’s not very professional and will not leave a good impression.

  3. Dmytro Antypov
    June 17th, 2010

    Hello Andrew! Thanks for this article I do agree with everything of what you wrote. Another great article on this topic is Seth Godin’s article, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/s.....ents-.html

  4. HP 9000
    June 22nd, 2010

    Great networking tips and a good post, thanks for sharing

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