Imagine growing a garden; you rake the soil, plant and water the seeds, and trim the plants. Then after months of hard work, the plants bear fruit ready to be picked. But instead of harvesting, you leave the crop behind. Sounds like a lot of work for nothing, right? Well, businesses do it all the time. How can you change that for your company? Start making the most of your networking efforts and harvest the potential.

Full Suite 
Bringing on a new client is a great accomplishment, but don’t let the momentum stop there. At an account opening, your client is at their highest level of engagement and is eager to learn more about what you have to offer. Take the opportunity to fully understand your new client’s needs. Then, offer the products and services that will benefit them the most. You might not always be able to meet with your client face-to-face, so make the most of the initial meeting.

Supply and Demand 
Now that you have a happy new client, it’s time to think supply and demand—but not in the typical way. This type of supply and demand is all about referrals. Your new business client will likely have connections with goods or materials suppliers as well as their own clients who could benefit from your services. Networking through an existing client is much easier than cold calling. Your client, if you’re taking care of them, will provide a benefit to their network beyond just being a salesperson. Take a powder coating company for example. Their supply typically comes in a raw form. These suppliers are varied and you could be providing them a service, depending on your line of work.  The end-line customer, on the other hand, may be an auto parts dealer, grocery store, or lawn furniture store. Your client has direct access to decision makers at each company and could easily provide a warm introduction. Take time and think of your top three clients. Now think about their suppliers and who they sell to.

Transferable Knowledge
One of the biggest misses is not networking others when it does not directly benefit you. Think of a bike tire. One spoke leads to the roofing company you signed that has made mention of having supplier issues. On another spoke, you have a new construction supplier who is trying to make their name on service. You are the hub. There is nothing better in networking than being a hub—someone who connects businesses together for equal benefit. It does not have to be an existing client either. It could be someone you met at the last YPN or Chamber networking event. You are like the Cupid of industry, just with more clothes on. Never miss the chance to network others, the value is exponential.

Personal Board/Informal Board
Once you have built a strong relationship with a client, bring the conversation down to a working level. Share challenges, ideas, and success. Create a board-like setting where your clients want to see you succeed and feel like they are part of your success. This takes time to cultivate. Don’t rush the relationship or it could give them second thoughts about your business. Always keep it positive; this is not a time to vent. Some of the best advice I have ever received came from clients in industries that were in a different field than my own. While it is great to have peers in your field to discuss common challenges, at times it’s best to have an outside perspective. I remember talking to an engineer from Whirlpool Corporation, and he shared the process their sales team and engineers used to meet the customer’s needs. It sounded an awful lot like sales and operations, but through a different lens. It was detailed and thought out. The information accelerated my timeline and resolved the challenge I was facing.

Networking is a gateway to meaningful relationships. It is not a one-size-fits-all philosophy, though there are tried and true processes that add value. This list is not all-inclusive; however it is a great way to start getting the most from your networking efforts. Now, go buy some boots and get gardening.

Danny DelarosaDanny DeLaRosa is Market VP of United Federal Credit Union, but sees himself as a servant Leader that enjoys making a difference in this company and community. He can be found at various community events from RTYPN to WIN to the Chamber. Boss, mentor and all around great guy, look for Danny at events and be sure to say ‘Hi!’.