I have always enjoyed meeting new people and learning about new companies and that is why B2B networking has always been interesting and important to me. Not only are people’s creativity and innovative spirit amazing, so are the potential business connections that can come out of developing your network whether it be for you directly or even someone else. I think when you engage in B2B networking, you need to have a more charismatic approach to sales and be looking at the much larger picture than what you see in front of you today. It could be that you are finding something of interest to a friend or client, or you are connecting two organizations where there could be a potential partnership or synergy. The key thing really is building value over time. It is not a selfish endeavour, if done right. I have always found that great B2B networkers were the most selfless people. In the end, all that good facilitation leads back to people having a higher level of respect for you and making time for you.
Lets start at the beginning, why network?
- Increase the amount of people you know
- Identify connection opportunities that could be fruitful
- Improve your knowledge of different sectors and industries
- Grow your connections to industry experts outside of your field of expertise
- Learn about people – people are interesting and all have their own interesting stories
- Generate good karma! Be willing to introduce even if there is no immediate benefit to you
Here are a couple of examples of how B2B networking can assist in sales:
Example 1: VA Partners client FlipGive
- Mark and Brian at VA Partners are working with FlipGive on growing their sales
- Steve at VA Partners is connected to Rotary International where he lives
- Rotary is looking for new ways to fund raise
- FlipGive provides a unique fundraising platform based on online purchasing
- There is a fit between Rotary’s needs and FlipGive’s solution
- Steve introduces FlipGive to Rotary International
Example 2: Steve’s past work for a client in the municipal market
- Steve developed municipal contacts through one of VA Partners’ clients provided rental and leasing solutions to the municipal market
- VA Partners won a project to assist Irish companies to network and explore the market in Canada
- One firm in particular was an OEM for farm and municipal related equipment – Quad-X
- Steve leveraged contacts to book meetings with municipalities for this client
There are a number of ways to B2B network both in person and online. A few include:
In person – tough with Covid right now – but post Covid – could look at:
- Startup events – eg. Communitech, Innovation Factory
- Sector specific events – eg. OMAFRA events
Digital – industry or educational events
- Build your network…connect with friends on LinkedIn, acquaintances, past bosses, past colleagues
- Following companies on LinkedIn
One of the great B2B networking opportunities LinkedIn presents is leveraging secondary connections. That is a connections connection. Here is an example of leveraging a 2nd Connection on LinkedIn:
This is a contact of mine Gregg and he works in the municipal space. I met him while working for a client and over time we developed a good rapport. As you can see, Gregg has a selection of secondary connections that could be useful to me and the client I am selling for that is targeting the municipal market. Having a good relationship with Gregg puts me in a position to leverage his connections and get introductions.
I hope you enjoy the opportunity B2B networking presents you with to meet new people and learn about new companies. Be inquisitive and never stop learning. Good luck! Please check out more of our blogs if you are looking for additional information on sales techniques or strategy. For great insights into startup sales and marketing, feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.