by David Bohl
There is a great debate in the world of marketing: is the quality of a lead when networking more important than the quantity of leads you get? Then there is the field of thought–why can’t you get both? It’s the American way to get it all so here’s what you have to do to combine the quality of the leads you get from networking and increase the quantity of these leads right along with it.
Step 1. Focus on quantity.
Especially if networking is new for you, you may not have a clue as to where you should start, so quality isn’t even a factor yet. You have to get some leads first!
So the first thing you have to do is figure out where you can get these leads. Whether it’s at a chamber meeting or a local coffee club, you’ve got to do your homework before you ever step foot in the room with these people. Try to find out who may be at the meeting. For example, if you’re a financial advisor and you’re attending a chamber meeting, look up the member list and see if any estate attorneys are members of the chamber. These attorneys are great sources of referrals for you so you know that you want to try and talk to them at the meeting.
On the other hand, you may have no clue who your potential referral sources are. This will come with time and experience, but you should still get acquainted with who the members of the group are and what type of businesses they are involved in before you go to the meeting. Then talk with some of the attendees and listen to what they say. Something they say during conversation may trigger a thought in your head on how you can do business with this person or how you can refer business to each other. Once you have a large pool of prospects to work with you can move on to start refining your efforts…giving you a chance to focus more on the quality of the leads.
Step 2. Refine (focus on quality).
Once you have a nice stock of leads, then you can start to focus on refining your relationships with these contacts. This means shifting your focus from the quantity to quality. Take a good hard look at the business you have closed to see if there are any common characteristics that you may be able to duplicate. For example, if you’re a wedding florist and have received five referrals this year from a wedding planner in your area, then you need to further secure your relationship with the wedding planner and add more wedding planners to your contact list!
Or take a look at the list of contacts you have and see which ones may lead to business. Form a relationship with the contact and test whether or not it leads to business over time. If it does, then go after similar leads for more business. If it doesn’t work then test out another lead. You’ll start to see what is a quality lead or contact for you.
After you’ve gathered a large quantity of contacts and then worked on uncovering the quality of the leads, it’s time to start focusing on quantity again. This time, however, you know what a quality contact is for you so you focus on where you can meet a large group (quantity) of your quality contacts in one place. Let’s say you’re a writer–writing copy for various types of marketing collateral for the real estate industry. You’ve attended all of your local chamber of commerce meetings (because real estate agents love the chamber, right?), but after doing this for six months you’ve realized that it isn’t real estate agents that you’re getting business from, it’s property management companies. So now you attend the National Property Management Association (NPMA) meetings in your area instead of the chamber meetings.
Now instead of searching for a large enough quantity of leads and closing enough quality leads to make your business grow, you can stop the hunt. Now quality leads will find you.