Monday, June 27, 2011

Make Networking a Tactical Tool for Success

Most design firm leaders will agree that networking with CEOs and other important decision-makers in client organizations is an important aspect of business development. Yet many firms take a loose approach to networking—it only exists as a “passive” way to identify new client relationships and secure references.

Very few firms have a formal networking process. Yet firms need to push this process, not just allow it to happen and “hope something turns up.”

Networking must be treated as a business if you expect it to be effective. Consider these pointers:

1. Remember that networking is just another method of prospecting; it has its own set of costs associated with it. Plan and budget for them.

2. Success or failure of the networking process depends on setting specific goals, a budget, and a time horizon.

3. Networking also depends on knowing the market, adding value to buyers, understanding profitability, and being aware of the competition, just like any business.

4. Practice an ethic of going to work to work the network.

5. Be open and outgoing in networking situations; don’t be shy.

6. Understand that you must give something in a networking situation before you can receive benefits from networking.

7. Learn to position yourself through giving of your time, your talents and your energy.

8. Make an inventory of the best, most desirable clients/skills/abilities.

9. Review all of your current affiliations.

10. Be brutally candid about reviewing your own strengths and weaknesses.

With business development, everything we do should drive the client’s perception—you want to micromanage client perception.

Learn more essential networking tips with the A/E Marketing Journal, PSMJ’s monthly newsletter, that is your guide to attracting and keeping great clients. Each issue of PSMJ's A/E Marketing Journal delivers dozens of fresh approaches and proven-effective strategies to help your marketing and business development efforts succeed, including how much to spend on business development, the importance of social marketing as a cost-effective tool, letting marketing strategy drive your marketing tactics, and getting "a seat at the table."

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