BREAKFAST clubs and lunch-time networking events are still the most effective marketing tools for businesses, it is claimed.
“In an age of constant emails, sales pitches, status updates and advertisements, cultivating personal relationships to make a business stand out from the rest, is a resolution worth making for any new start up,” said Brad Burton, managing director of 4Networking.
Brad, a popular speaker at this year’s Kirklees Business Conference in Huddersfield, said: “Starting up a new business can be so isolating and it was only when I was delivering pizzas to keep mine afloat, that I realised just how important other people were to its success.
“I began asking others in the same position if they felt like they needed other people and when they all said ‘yes’ it quickly became clear that if I was to get things off the ground, two things were essential – people and appointments.
“Discovering that was the turning point for me and was when I created 4Networking. There are still so many people, though, who dismiss it and don’t realise that in not doing it, they’re probably the biggest obstacle to their own business’ success.”
Brad said networking events could help boost the bottom line.
He said: “Breakfast clubs and networking events are essentially like a place of work, where you can have face-to-face meetings with people who it could sometimes take months to make an appointment with, circumventing cold calling, direct mailing and telemarketing. It gets your foot in the door and puts a face to the name.
“They facilitate the most effective marketing tool available to any business - word of mouth referrals. People always prefer a trusted recommendation and face-to-face meetings at networking events allow you to establish if you like each other. If you don’t, it’s not going anywhere, but if you do, that’s a lead.”
Said Brad: “Expanding an existing network of acquaintances and customers creates, builds and nurtures relationships gaining your business, and you, credibility and trust. When people already come personally recommended, it saves time having to seek them out and is a much better guarantee of quality.
“Networking not only allows you to establish business contacts, but to also learn the dynamics within your industry, develop knowledge resources and seek new career opportunities, all whilst getting ‘plugged in’ to your community.
“It’s the most productive, proficient and enduring way to build relationships and in serving as a resource to help others succeed, you’re also leveraging your own business and raising its profile.”
Said Brad: “My first impression of running a business initially was private number plates, big fish tanks and spinning leather chairs – but after being £25,000 in debt, I know the reality of a small or start up business is very different.
“It can be depressing and tough and there’s a fine line between success and failure, and that’s why having access to a network of people all in the same boat is so crucial. Everyone is valuable to everyone else – and putting a value on people before business will always set you apart from your competitor.”