It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. How many times has someone said that about someone who has made it in life? It’s an inescapable fact that people help people they know, but what if you don’t have a little black book full of door opening contacts? How can your business succeed? If you want a list of contacts, there’s only one way to get them. Networking.
Networking is hard, there are no two ways about it, but if you think your little retail unit or hair salon can do without it, then you are making a big mistake. Mistake may be a little too strong, but you are definitely missing out on opportunities. Just so you know there are ways to profit from any networking event consider this. A hair or nail salon may not do business with an insurance, manufacturing or construction company, but here are some examples of how you can create an income stream from anywhere for a business that has no natural affinity with yours.
Income from Out of the Box Thinking
Imagine this scenario. A director of a construction company (let’s call him John) whose employees don’t have their nails done often speaks to a nail bar owner (Valerie) at a speed networking event. Valerie asks John if his employees need motivation and suggests offering a free nail treatment to the employee or their wives/girlfriends if they finish projects on budget or on time.
Valerie offers John a discounted rate and upsells the winners by offering additional services when they arrive for their prize. It’s a win-win situation. John motivates his staff in a cost effective manner and Valerie fills her appointment book with builders or their wives and girlfriends. Valerie could even offer John’s wife a free session if they agree a deal and upsell her or add her to a list of future customers.
The Shop Keeper’s Approach
It’s even easier for a small retail outlet because all they need to do is offer a discount to any employers with more than ten or twenty people working for them and they are instantly getting free advertising. Shop owners could even arrange to drop off their discount vouchers to the business’ reception for distribution in wage packets. The employers are negotiating something for their staff and the shop is gaining more customers and free advertising. If you have an opportunity to welcome thirty or forty people through the door at lunchtime by offering a meal deal to the local office or factory staff, are you going to be better off or not?
Opening Unexpected Doors
My first foray into business networking was specifically to target an investor in my restaurant. At that time, I had inherited a pub and it had only every sold alcohol and crisps to the local community, but we had a good-sized car park and I managed to put some money away while working my way through catering college. I immediately bought a second and fryer and some catering equipment when I took over the pub from my parents and started serving pub grub on lunch times. I met a few people at a networking event before I knew it, and I started taking bookings for office lunches every payday at the end thanks to the girls at the Admiral Insurance telesales centre.
Financing Expansion Plans
Business was good, but I needed to expand. I had only taken over the business a year earlier, but I needed investment to develop part of the car park into a children’s play area and capitalise on the summer crowds.
I met a rep from BusinessCashAdvance.co.uk at a speed-networking event and secured the funding based on my ability to repay a percentage from all sales processed by debit or credit card back every month. Around half of my takings are via card sales, so it was an easy decision. I had been trying to sell the idea of his office coming for lunch every Friday and I offered Steve, the rep a free meal every week he could drag his colleagues to lunch.