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Networking 101: Getting Started in Seattle and the Puget Sound Area

strategic business networking seattle
The Sip n Social/LeTip Nautical Networking joint event on Lake Washington this summer

Networking is a broad topic and can be quite confusing. The purpose of this article is to help simplify things for you.

Here’s what has worked and what has not for me.

In the Puget Sound area, the variety and sheer magnitude of networking groups to choose from are endless. There are MeetUps, BNIs (Business Network International), “Ladies Who Lunch,” Rotaries, LeTips, Chambers of Commerce, “Mom’s Who Lift Weights,” “Business Owners with Dogs,” “Dogs with Business Owners,” ad infinitum.

However, the shotgun effect of attending each and every MeetUp group with warm bodies soon becomes time wasting because you end up meeting too many of the wrong people, wearing yourself out and straining your pocket book. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much money in the budget to spend on joining groups, clubs, chambers and associations for networking.

When I think about business networking, I always think “Strategic” networking – with a capital S.

This means I have to ask myself, “What groups are going to give me the best ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of money, time and potential to close business?” The financial geeks call it ROI – Return On Investment.

In order to figure this out, I have to determine who my market prospects are and where they are hiding so I can join those groups.

You may laugh but you might end up finding out that the prospects you need to reach in your target market hang out with the “Business Owners with Dogs” group. Really!

The following steps are what I do at the start of any basic marketing effort, whether targeting networking venues or planning a professional comprehensive marketing campaign the way Target Public Marketing does.

You can try it.

1. List out your ideal customers, their characteristics, their interests.

2a. If you are a B2C business, ask yourself:

Where do my customers hang out? Where do they shop? What are their habits? What is their income range? What is their age range? What is their gender?

2b. If you are a B2B business, ask:

What companies will use my product? What are their annual gross sales? How many employees do they have? What are their biggest challenges? How does my product or service benefit them?

3. Get on the internet and locate some groups that have the most characteristics you have discovered about your target market.

For example, if you are selling upscale “doggie tiaras”, your target market is probably zillionaire men and women between the ages of 24-70 and business owners who own dogs, shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Bellevue Square and attend events at Mercer Island Community Center.

4. Now is your chance to get creative!

Grab or rent a darling doggie model with tiara and start locating the online Doggie Meet Ups, attending Mercer Island’s outdoor community events, cruising the dog parks around those locations, having coffee outside at Whole Foods in Bellevue or Starbucks in Kirkland with your model pooch in tow and let them come to you.

Wait a minute! What a novel idea? “…let them come to you.”

Anyhoo, get my drift? The possibilities are endless.

Now, all you have to do is get started. Find your target market and then discover the bevy of networking groups throughout the Puget Sound area.

Happy Networking!

If you want to find more ways to drive business your way without spending hours in doggie parks, let the professionals at Target Public Marketing help. Fill out the form at the top of the page to start a conversation with one of our “gurus”.