You probably want more customers so that you can grow your business? There are quite a few ways to achieve it, but the most effective ways typically involve getting out of your office to network with people. By all means take a look under the desk, behind the filing cabinet, in the cupboards… but I doubt you’ll find any new customers in your office! No, the harsh reality is that all your new customers are out there waiting for you to find them. It’s time to go looking.

It’s fair to say that very few business owners relish the opportunity to go to a networking event and walk up to complete stranger and start a conversation. The mere thought of it will give most people a feeling of cold fear. Apart from those people, we all know who are those strange people called extroverts. You know the ones – always sounding confident, happy to walk up to complete strangers and start a conversation. You walk down the road with them and they stop three times to talk to complete strangers. It’s OK for them… but that’s not us. So the rest of us will place adverts, send emails, and in an occasional brave moment – make a phone call.

My advice is to get out there and make a start. Go and meet some people, even if you don’t think they’ll include your target customer audience. You might be anywhere on the scale from scared to death to mildly bored by the idea, but just do it! Google “Business Networking” and your local town name and you’ll soon see some of the opportunities. Don’t hesitate, don’t dwell on all the reasons why it might not work, just do it. Make contact immediately and get yourself invited along to see what the group is like. Visit several different groups and see which ones you like. And yes, you do have to go there to know.

I never used to even know that local businesses got together. It was all a complete revelation – finding out there are literally thousands of groups of businesses networking worldwide. They’re getting to know each other and trust each other. They understanding what they do and passing work to each other. But only to the businesses who are actually there! I now know business owners who regularly attend networking meetings who have gained more than 50% of their clients through networking – some have gained more than 80%! So imagine if you’re one of the business owners who are NOT there… the business you have might be only 20%… the other 80% of your business that you felt sure you ought to have is there waiting for you at your local networking groups!

Often people tell me that it’s unlikely that anyone there would be their target customer, so what’s the point going? Well, you’d be surprised to know that people who network are well connected. Usually, they aren’t when they first attend… that’s the point… the more you attend, the better connected you become. If there are just 20 people at a meeting, chances are they all know upward of 100 other businesses – their own customers, their suppliers, ex-colleagues, family members, school friends, members of clubs… it’s probably more like 500-1000 each! So when you visit a few times and have told each of 20 members what you do… you can reach 10,000+ people. The cost is minimal, the time is reasonable, and the results are usually excellent when you make the effort. And although it may not seem like it from the safety of your desk… it’s actually really enjoyable getting out and meeting like-minded business people. Give it a try this week!