Finding strategic business partners is much easier when time is spent networking at industry focused events and activities versus cold calling potential partners. The most important aspect of any business partnership is the relationship between the company’s executives. This can be developed through implementing basic networking best practices in order to present the right image of you and the company to the potential business partner decision makers. It is critical to pick the right types of events to attend as well as being prepared to be effective in meeting people and talking about your business.
The following are some best practices to successful networking and will be helpful in your pursuit of a strategic business partner.
- Selecting Events – Going to just any business networking event is not likely to lead you to the functions that will have the people that you need to meet in order to develop a quality business relationship that can turn into a strategic business partnership. Pick industry related events that are well attended by the most important individuals in your industry as both attendees and speakers.
- Business Card – The business card says a lot about not only your company but yourself. Use a printing service. There’s nothing worse than self-printed business cards when trying to develop partnerships for your company. Have a graphic designer come up with a specific design that places color throughout the card and include an image and a tag line for the back of the card. This will help your card stick out from a large stack of cards that are placed on a desk after an event. Using an odd shaped card can also help get additional notice later which helps remind the person about you and the discussion you had during the brief moments you talk at a networking event.
- 30 Seconds & Introduction – Do not use the first 30 seconds to sell a partnership with your company. You need to be candid about your business and discuss what you do. If there’s interest then you can discuss in detail how you can benefit companies that are part of your business ecosystem. End the discussion after 3 – 5 minutes and request a meeting to talk in greater detail over lunch, etc. This implies that you are busy and others are demanding your time as well.
- Follow Up – Send follow up emails to individuals and businesses you have reviewed and feel are still a good fit as a strategic business partner for your company. Request a casual meeting as it is best to develop a personal relationship if you are a small business owner and looking to develop relationships with companies that are larger than yourself. Make sure and take note about specific details like kids and favorite activities in your CRM system so you can make reference to these later meetings. This will help you start the process of forging closer relationships with the people you are doing business with, which in turn will help your business partnerships longevity.
Use networking events to find the right strategic business partners that can help your business achieve your goals for growth. Take the time to research events and who will be in attendance based on past events on websites. Be prepared with a nice business card and solid introduction and make sure to follow up with any potential fits to make the most out of your networking activities.
Christian Fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A Joint Venture Marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability.
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