When it comes to business networking, assuming that others know everything about your business can be a costly mistake. A florist once made this error, assuming that everyone in a networking group was familiar with the extent of his services. I heard him tell the members of the group, “I’m not sure what else to say. You all know what a florist does, right?” Wrong! His presumption was not only completely wrong, he also missed a valuable opportunity to educate potential customers and referral partners about his full range of offerings.
After the meeting, I asked him if he was an FTD florist, and then asked him several other questions:
- Did he offer seasonal specials for holidays? If so, which ones?
- Did he handle emergency orders?
- Did he have experience with weddings?
- Could I set up a billing arrangement with his company?
- Could I order online?
- Do certain colors of roses signify certain things?
- Could he give me tips to keep flowers alive longer?
I told him there were hundreds of things I didn’t know about his business, and other people surely felt the same way. They need to know what he offers, who he serves, how he does it, and why he is the best choice.
The florist’s case serves as a lesson for all entrepreneurs: never assume that people know everything about your business. Even in networking circles, where professionals come together on a regular basis to connect and exchange information, there is still a need to educate others about your services, products, and the solutions you can provide.
The Power of Educating Others
To effectively engage in your networking group and capitalize on the referral opportunities, consider these steps:
Prepare a List of Questions
Start by creating a list of questions that potential clients might have about your business. These questions can encompass the range of services you offer, pricing details, special promotions, customer policies, and anything else relevant to your industry.
Address One Question Per Meeting
At each networking event, focus on addressing one question from your list when you are speaking to the group. Present concise and informative answers that showcase the depth and breadth of your business. This approach educates others about your offerings and is engaging and memorable.
Showcase Your Expertise
In networking, people seek expertise and trustworthiness in potential business partners. By taking the time to educate others about your business, you establish yourself as an authority in your field. This credibility enhances the possibility of gaining referrals and attracting new customers.
Share Unique Selling Points
Educating others about your business allows you to highlight your unique selling points. Use networking opportunities to showcase what sets you apart from competitors and why potential clients should choose your products or services.
Emphasize Customer Benefits
As share information by answering questions from your list, always emphasize the benefits your customers can expect from working with you. Highlight the value you bring and how you address the specific needs of your target market.
Be Open to Learning
Networking is a two-way street. While educating others about your business, be open to learning about theirs. Understanding their needs and interests better allows you to tailor your responses more effectively and identify potential collaboration opportunities.
Follow Up with Interested Contacts
After networking events, follow up with individuals who expressed interest in your services, and follow up with the referrals you receive, preferably within 24 hours. You can answer any questions they may have and continue educating them about your business with timely and personalized communication.
If you have ten questions from your original list, and you develop ten weekly presentations from those questions, plan to reuse them again at future networking meetings. People need to hear your information more than once, and there will be new people in the room who know nothing about what you do.
Networking provides a platform to educate others about your business, ensuring that potential customers have a comprehensive understanding of your offerings. By avoiding assumptions and proactively sharing valuable information, you can position yourself as a trusted authority and gain a competitive edge in the market. Embrace networking as an opportunity to educate, connect, and build lasting business relationships that pave the way for success.
Remember the florist from above? He knew his business and assumed that everyone else knew it as well. Avoid making that same assumption in YOUR networking group. Everyone has something they can say that will educate people about the products and services their business has to offer. Avoid assumptions and don’t pass up a chance to teach people more about what you do!
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