I am convinced that the best way to get traction for your web design business is through networking. This is true for any business, really. My business has nearly quadrupled in the eight years I’ve been part of a formal networking group. I will admit that all networking opportunities aren’t created equal. You have to make it happen. Here are some tips about networking:
Setting up the meeting
- Coffee is always a good option. Lunch can be too long for a first time meeting.
- Research businesses in your area for good matches (other designers, graphic designers, SEO specialists).
- Reach out to fellow designers in your area.
- Find graphic designers in your area, too. It’s best if they aren’t offering web design, too.
- Visit your local BNI chapter if your seat is open. You can visit twice for without being a member.
- Go to a Chamber event in your local area. Work the room to find people you might do business with.
At the meeting
- Stick to a schedule. Don’t get into too much small talk.
- Ask them what their business goals are.
- Ask them what they are most proud of about their business.
- Ask them about their interests.
- Ask them where they network.
- Ask them about their skills, paying close attention to what they do that you don’t.
- Be prepared to answer all of these questions in return- notice I don’t suggest TELL them anything. It’s very important to be a listener if you’ve initiated the meeting. And it’s a good tell if they don’t ask you anything… hmmm…
It’s hard to make up your mind if someone is a good referral partner for you after one meeting. If you do get a good feeling, you might try by first sending them a referral for any inquiry you get that isn’t a good fit for you. If they are a graphic designer and you don’t offer those services, you can pass their name along. ALWAYS let someone know you are sending a referral their way. It’s how you show them you mean business and are serious about referring.
This doesn’t always pan out, but it’s so worth the effort when it does. I have a minimum of two one-to-one networking meetings each month and my list of trusted partners has grown like crazy. You will get better at it over time. Remember, getting in the game of networking isn’t an option. It’s a must to grow your business.