When trying to grow your business, preparation is key and first impressions really do count.

Before a networking event or meeting with a prospective client, do your research.  Prepare an elevator pitch ahead of events, so you don’t waste people’s time with too much detail and lose them in conversation.  Always follow-up after an event with everyone you meet and didn’t meet, you never know what may come out of a connection that may appears at first look not at all complementary to your business area.  Networking is all about friendships and connections, and word of mouth and referrals are invaluable to a growing business.

A networking event therefore is the perfect situation to meet like-minded folk that could become customers or business partners. But how do you make these events and what else do you need to do to help grow your business?

Use your current contacts

The world is small, and the business world is even smaller.  So making that first impression and building relationships is key.  A very good starting point is using your existing contacts, business and personal, as you never know where a relationship will take you, whether it be a potential business opportunity or an opportunity to collaborate in some way.  Tell your friends you’re looking for work, and browse LinkedIn. Build up your contacts and use them to your advantage.

Prepare an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a summary of your business or service that’s so concise, you could deliver it the time it takes to ride a lift, so a perfect marketing tool as you go out there and tell the world about your business.

Waffling is a huge turn-off.  Likewise, know when to call it a day.  You can end conversations politely and courteously, and there is no shame in moving to the next person to find an opportunity.

Always follow-up

Following up with everyone you meet is absolutely key to building relationships and can be a good free promoting tool.

People talk and if you work proactively to be remembered and work towards building friendships and relationships, you and your brand will have a wider reach versus you going out there alone promoting yourself.

So if people give you their contact information, don’t leave them hanging. If you don’t and they haven’t forgotten you within a week of meeting you, then they’ll assume you’ve snubbed them. Neither are good.

Keep at it

Growing your business does not happen overnight, patience is key.

It might sometimes feel like you’re making lots of connections which come to nothing, but if you keep at it you will see the return of your hard work, even if it does happen over the medium to long-term.  Try not to get despondent; keep meeting people, keep putting yourself out there, and don’t get disheartened if you don’t see instant results.

Converting prospects into sales

You have made a good connection and there is an opportunity to convert into new business.

Talking to the right people at a prospect’s organisation is your first important task.  Speaking directly to the decision makers will lead to conversion and new business a whole lot quicker.

If you can’t get hold of the key stakeholders, consider asking your contact about the format for quoting if you need to do this indirectly. Getting the insight in to how the key stakeholder(s) works can make all the difference if you are being considered for a job against a competitor.  This is where your relationship with a prospect can make all the difference for winning new business, with your contact potentially being your champion and spokesperson with the key stakeholder(s).

Once you know who the decision-makers are, to convert your prospect into a sale, you all need to be round the table to come to an agreement on the terms of the sale.  If an agreement is made, follow-up promptly with a quote of services which is tailored to your discussions at the meeting.

We can help

We strongly recommend you speak with a tax and accounting specialist like Mirandus Accountants, who can help you set up in business and support you as you develop and grow. We are an accounting company in London who are tax accountants for the self-employed and offer accountant services for small business.  You can contact us to offer a tailored solution to your unique business circumstances.

Mirandus Accountants, supporting local businesses in the City of London and Greater London area, providing accounting and tax services to SMEs and OMB clients.  As strong advocates of cloud accounting and a QuickBooks Pro Advisor Practice, we offer access and training on QuickBooks as standard to all our clients, whatever stage of the business cycle.