Networking is a form of marketing that costs much less when compared to other forms such as newspaper, radio and television advertisements or printing and handing out flyers. It also reaches people who are likely to buy your products, help you to sell them and assist your business in many other ways.
Because networking is based on the principle of trust and relationship building, it brings more solid results because these two are the most important principle in business.
A recently published research conducted by IBM in 2011 globally revealed that consumers are spending are spending their shopping dollars with only a few selected retailers that they trust. The study looked at the purchasing trends, habits and expectations of more than 28,000 consumers and found that 51% of consumers trusted friends and family most when making a purchasing decision, while only 10% trusted retailers.
If you look at the Zimbabwean consumer, you will find the trend is almost the same. Consumers won’t think twice about buying small or cheap things from any retailer, or street seller. When it comes to more significant expenses, they will shop around, compare prices and quality, but in the end, the major influence on the purchase decision is the advice of friends and family.
This is because people are afraid of risk: they don’t want to suffer a loss when a product turns out to be defective or fails to perform as expected. In selling services, such as consultancy where the product cannot be seen or tested before delivery, the need for trust arises phenomenally. In my business consultancy I have discovered that the majority of my clients are people who know me personally, have been referred by someone who knows me, or have read my books and articles. Very few have come in from the streets, even when I used to place advertisements in newspapers. As I get known by more and more people, I get more and more enquiries and paying clients. That is how networking works. The more people you know who know people who need your services the more business you will get.
But networking does not just bring results while you sleep; there some things you need to do to reap better results from your networking. See the article “Five ways to reap better results from networking” at my website http://smebusinesslink.com.
Don’t miss the BusinessLink networking breakfast meeting on Friday 30 March 2012 in Harare. You will find more details at the same website or you can request information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Chrisitine on 0772 854 301.