When doing B2B marketing, many business owners and sales reps tend to fall back on the same old approaches. They focus on the same places and methods for doing networking and finding new prospective clients. These include: trade shows, industry associations, and formal networking events. All of these conventional networking methods make some sense. After all, sometimes there’s no substitute for having a presence on the floor at your industry’s biggest annual convention, or pressing the flesh in person at a local business networking function. But if you want to boost your B2B marketing results, you need to be creative about where you do your networking.
Unconventional B2B Networking Spots
Here are a few unexpected and unconventional places where you should try to do some B2B networking to find your next new prospective client:
Sometimes you can find new clients by volunteering at a nonprofit – not because you’re there to sell or to find new clients, but because you’re doing something that you care about, and you often will meet new people who are open to making new connections. This is a big reason why many business people love to serve on nonprofit boards – but even if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to be a board member, you can often do great networking just by being a volunteer and being an active member of a local nonprofit group. Working hard on a good cause is a great way to meet like-minded people – and many of these other professionals will potentially be open to talking with you about your business. Doing good deeds in your community can also lead to good leads for your company!
The Gym (or the Golf Course)
Where do you prospects and your decision makers spend their time when they’re not at work? Chances are, they spend a decent amount of time at the gym! Exercise is so important, and business leaders at all levels often pride themselves on their dedication to fitness. So don’t be afraid to strike up conversations at the gym.
Or if you want to take this networking technique to the next level: do some research and follow your key decision makers on social media to see if you can find out which gym or which golf course they belong to – and then join that same gym! (Don’t be a “stalker,” but if you can find out this information from organic methods like talking with your prospect on the phone or at a meeting, or following publicly-posted social media posts, you can often find out a lot about where your prospects like to spend their time.)
Just like volunteering at nonprofit organizations, being involved with community activities – or even attending community activities – can be a great way to expand your network. For example, if you sign up to volunteer for a local arts or music festival, you might meet a new circle of people who could potentially become clients.
If you’re in B2B sales, you need to go where the business owners are – and today, more business owners than ever before are working at coffee shops. Those other laptop warriors at the neighboring tables might be your next big sales prospect. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Many coffee shops also have community rooms that can be rented or used for public events like business seminars and lunch and learns – look to see if there are options to host an event at your local coffee shop.
Your Children’s School Events
One of the underrated fun aspects of being a parent is getting involved with new circles of people and getting to meet a wider network of other parents who can potentially become new friends or new business contacts. Many schools host fundraisers and parent organizations that are good occasions for potential networking. The other parents who are chaperoning the school dance or selling tickets at the school carnival might be great contacts for your business!
One of the fun aspects of being a business owner, entrepreneur or sales person is that every day is full of new opportunities to meet new people and be of service. Even in unconventional settings, you might have great chances to network and connect with people who can become your next customers.