Networking 101

Networking 101

11 tips for making connections.

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July 22, 2011

Turns out the best way to market your business may take time more than money.

The most effective business marketing technique is networking, says Marty Grunder, owner of Grunder Landscaping Co. and Lawn & Landscape columnist. 

“In many cases, networking is something that will not sell you a job tomorrow, but it will sell you a job next week, next month, and it will constantly make deposits in your bank account if you do it right,” he says.

Here are some effective networking techniques Grunder offered during one of his latest webinars focused on sales and marketing.

Word of mouth. A university professor once told Grunder the average client must see a company’s name 27 times before they will remember the name when they need it. “It’s this belief that it’s not what you know and who you know, but who knows you when they need you,” Grunder says.

Chair an event. Getting involved in community and nonprofit events not only shows goodwill, but also helps circulate your name. Grunder says he once was chairman of a baseball game for underprivileged youth. He made friends, had fun and was interviewed and quoted in the newspaper.

Put a talk together. Embrace the topics you’re knowledgeable about and give a talk. Perhaps you can speak to businessmen  on how to survive a down economy or speak to potential clients about how they can make their neighbors envious of their landscaping. “Speaking implies success; speaking implies expertise,” Grunder says. “When you’re speaking in front of a group, you have a captive audience and it’s a great way to help. It’s a great way to work.”

Do the right thing. Integrity and trust are basics when it comes to networking. “When you do the right things, the right things will happen,” Grunder says.

Go where clients go. “Go where people who can use your product or services go,” Grunder says. For example, if the local Starbucks is where small business owners hang out, make sure you’re there. “After three or four weeks of saying hello to the same people, they may see a logo on your shirt; you may be able to establish a relationship,” Grunder says.

Get your name out. One of the easiest ways to do this is to put your company logo on everything – your shirt, car, briefcase, hat, umbrella. “If you are not consistently wearing a logoed shirt to work every day, what are you thinking?” Grunder says.

Use Facebook. Grunder says he spends 20 minutes a day – usually at the end of the day – on Facebook. “Is it the end all cure all, no, I don’t think it is,” he says. “But I think you’re foolish if you don’t dip your toe in the water with Facebook.”

Be personal. “In your networking, face to face always works best,” Grunder says.  If you’ve only communicated with someone through social media, ask them to lunch. If you don’t feel comfortable in large networking situations, bring a friend to help ease the conversation when meeting new people.

Spend $300 a month on meals. “There are really very few other ways you can captivate somebody’s time for an hour or an hour and a half better than if you’re eating lunch or an early dinner with them,” Grunder says. Budget $300 a month – $100 if you’re less than $1 million in revenue – to spend on networking meals.

Don’t have a motive. Potential customers can’t think all you want is a sale out of the deal. You have to be genuine and sincere. By doing so, Grunder says, people will want to help you. “If you go into networking solely with the focus of trying to sell something to someone, it’s not going to work,” he says.

Do a little bit more. Always think of ways you can help others – clients, potential clients, people who could be potential clients years from now. “Be the person that can be counted on to always do a little bit more than what was asked of them; be the person that is always thoughtful,” Grunder says. “Be the person that is always considerate.”

The author is an associate editor at Lawn & Landscape. She can be reached at clawell@gie.net.