I’ve spoken at length about the networking and how important it is for business. In essence, networking is about meeting the right people, and staying in touch for mutual benefit.
Today, I want to talk about one of my principal pleasures in life – networking cake dates.
A networking cake date is a term I’ve stolen from Pete Jenkins and it means going for coffee (and of course a cake) to find out more about a potential client/referrer/interesting person/business friend.
Or to keep in touch with someone who is already an old client/referrer/interesting person/business friend.
Here are the networking cake date tips
Do make sure that you talk business as well as catching up on the gossip.
Do your research, read their blog, check them out on LinkedIn for mutual contacts and to find out more about their background. This gives you a better idea of what they’re about, and gives you chance to ask very specific questions about areas of their work which might have some synergy or overlap with what you do.
Be ready to tell stories about your business which shows how you work.
I often ask people who their ideal client is so that I can see how I might be able to make referrals and help out. And of course, then you can say who your ideal client is as well.
Be prepared to ask daft questions if you don’t understand something, and don’t be all British about asking about money. If you’re going to refer someone or ask them to make referrals for you, you do need to understand how much they charge, otherwise, you’re going to be barking up the wrong potential customer trees for them.
Spend an hour on talking about business, and then be prepared to head off.
That way the cake date doesn’t eat too much into your day, and you can still afford 15 minutes for more social chit-chat at the end of the date.
And do follow up and email to say that it was good to catch up so you’re reinforcing your message, and have a chance to be helpful again by sending them useful articles, contacts of other people who might be useful, etc.
And if you hit it off, add this person to your list of top referrers (see my Joy of Business system of networking) so you make sure you stay in touch and have a long and fruitful relationship.
Where to eat cake
I’m compiling a list of suitable networking cake date venues in Brighton, Hove, Sussex and London.
They need to have excellent coffee, good cake and be quiet enough so that you can have a conversation without having to shout, or without the rest of the cafe hearing what your daily rate or current business issues are.
Where would you recommend for a cake date?
Some more blogs about business networking
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