Collaboration between business owners and Networking

Hello again readers,

I’m a bit out of my schedule this week as we’ve lost our internet and it’s tricky getting out to an internet cafe, so please bear with me until I get it sorted and then it will be back to the normal Mondays Wednesday and Fridays. I’m going to pair up a video with today’s topic as I’m not sure when next I’ll get back to the internet.

Today’s topic is about collaboartion between business owners. I went to an event last night and was having this chat with some other business owners. It has definitely become imperative to work together, especially if you are a small or start-up company. People are not spending as much right now on marketing (whether they should be is another story), so business is being promoted word of mouth. What do you do when you go to a networking event? Speak to many people? Give out as many of your cards as possible? Get as many cards as possible? All 3?

It’s a funny thing networking for business. I’m always amazed that when I invite business owners to send me more information about what they do so that I can promote it to my contacts, so few of them take me up on the offer. It’s also the people not following up with you after an event.. this is crazy for a business owner! Yes, the person you met at the event might not be your next client, but what about the people they know?

How effectively do you network your business? Here are some tips:
– get other people’s cards, make a note on the card of what you spoke about, something specific to that person, the date and where you met.
– follow up with an email straight away just saying how good it was to chat with them at the event, and include a comment specific to them. People want to know that they are not just another business card. Dont sell anything in this email! It’s just a reminder of who you are.
– Look at their website so that you know who they and what their company is about
– Call them in the week after the event and ask for a meeting to chat about how you can help each other after you’ve looked at their site. Be sure that you or someone you know can actually be of help or interest to them
– Go to the meeting with the purpose of collaboration at the forefront of your mind and the main reason for meeting. Too many business owners try to grab as much business as possible. Today’s world, whether you like it or not, is about relationship marketing. People are bombarded with media trying to sell them things and offer discounts and membership and sales, we are becoming immune and anti the whole ‘sales approach’. We’ve heard it all before.
I spoke to a business owner last night and he said that it took his company up to 2 years of relationship building to secure their biggest client. Of course it doesn’t have to take this long, but just to get started will bring in results.

So now that you’ve got business owners to collaboarte with, how do you do this effectively so that both parties are win win? Well, you can start by having an idea what you would like to get and give from the relationship, have an objective in mind.. is it more sales? to promote a product? to joint venture?
It’s also important to have a measure of the collaboration process so that both parties receive equal value in the deals being made. I know of someone who is a business owner and constantly gets services for free from people with the promise of promoting their services to her contacts. This is fine, however, if you offer your service to this person and get no responses from her promotion of you.. how effective has it been for you to give something away for free? So, how can you measure the reward for both of you?

What else can you do together? Do you perhaps have a similar line of service or product and maybe you can joint venture to co-promote each other or host an event together sharing client base invitations to the event?

These are just a few ideas to get you started, and if nothing else.. just get started! Go back through all the business cards you have and start talking to people. Start thinking about how you can help another business and how they can help you. Make that call! And if you hear from me because I’ve got your card, I look forward to chatting!

If you have any success stories of collaboration with another business owner, or comments of your own, please do leave them in the comments section, along with your site.

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