networkingOne of the easiest and quickest ways to market your business and spread the word about your Personal Styling or Image Consultancy business is to “network”. There is the huge area of social networking but in this blog I am going to focus on face to face business networking.

At its simplest form networking is talking to your friends, colleagues and family about what you are doing and sharing the benefits of seeing you for a consultation. You then have the possibility of tapping into their network of contacts so that if any of their friends or contacts talk about having problems with their wardrobe etc, your name will automatically be mentioned!!

Business Networking

This principle works in exactly the same way when you attend a business networking meeting. There will probably be a structure to the meeting but this is an environment where you can talk openly with other business owners about the benefits of your services – so you don’t need to worry about promoting your business!

There are however a number of different types of business networking meeting that you need to be aware of and it is important to do some research before you attend a meeting to decide if it is the best format for you and your business – Time of day? Mixed gender or single sex? Structured meeting or informal chat?

At a business networking meeting it is important to remember that you are probably not directly targeting the people at the actual meeting but more likely their clients or contacts!

networkingFirstly, as with all marketing, think about who is your ideal client? What other service professional might they use? Eg if you are targeting women in their 40s they may also be interested in keeping fit, looking good and following a healthy lifestyle; so you may want to link up with beauty therapists, life coaches, personal trainers, hairdressers etc.

Whilst business networking, you need to tell people what you do BUT make it interesting! Avoid saying “I’m an Image Consultant” or “I’m a Personal Stylist” as people will have their own perceptions of what this means and they will usually back away looking scared as they think we are judging them!! Think of something different to say: eg “I help people save time and money”, “I help people always make the right first impression” or “I specialise in helping people gain more confidence”. These statements are far more powerful, plus the listener is more likely to ask further questions rather than run away!

You need to develop an “Elevator Pitch” to help you in these situations – I will expand on this in my next Blog!

When you speak to people in the meeting, whether it is one to one or to the whole group, as well as saying what you do and the benefits you offer remember to talk about the type of client you are looking for – who is your ideal client, because there maybe someone in the room who knows them!

networkingIt goes without saying that if you are attending a networking meeting as an “Image Consultant” / “Personal Stylist” you have to look like one!! You are not going to gain any referrals or enquiries if you don’t look the part.

My business has been built around networking – mainly through women only groups but some mixed groups have also worked. I have found that very early morning meetings aren’t for me, but anything from mid morning onwards is fine!

The other plus point is that I have no need to advertise as all my business comes through referrals – often from these networking contacts.

Remember it’s all about building relationships – I’ve made some great connections and made some fabulous friends through networking, so go and find a group and start talking!

If you have any questions or want some advice please call or email me.

Some Networks to try would include: Women in Business Network (WIBN); Athena or 4N Networking.

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