Gathering business contacts to create a valued network can take time, as not everyone will be on the same page as you in terms of what they want and need. Some people will be on board from the start, others will need a bit more convincing.
The obvious place to start is your existing network of family, friends, neighbours and people who you have worked with in your career thus far. What I suggest you do is collect all the names on an excel spreadsheet (particularly the work contacts) and classify them 1 – 5.
- People you are convinced will buy from you at some stage in the future.
- People you are pretty certain will buy from you but you are not quite so sure.
- People who realistically are never going to buy from you but you like them, they are well networked, and they are useful for market intelligence.
- People where you really have no idea whether they are potential buyers or not.
- People you consider to be irrelevant in your new world.
Having numbered them, you should immediately archive the 5s; the 4s and the 2s. The next stage is to create a diary system where by you get in touch with them every other month; the 3s you do the same with but on a quarterly basis; and the 1s you find a reason to be in touch with once a month without irritating them.
By the end of Year 1, you should only have 1s and 3s left. The 2s will become 1, 3 or 5s, same with the 4s. The 5s have already been archived. You can still be reactive towards the 5s, but you cannot afford to spend time on them; you have to spend time on those who are the most relevant.
You also need to have enough time to add new and highly relevant people to your network. There is nothing to stop you getting on and doing this now! You don’t have to wait as you know who they are.
This forms the basis of your business network, the key is to keep it updated and continue to add new people to your lists. The more you have, the more chances there are of making a sale, increasing not only your profit but also how many people hear about your business.