[Editor’s Note: Larry Siegel, founder of Siegel Gestalt Marketing, uses his diverse business experience and a unique perspective to support independent restaurants and retailers in their advertising strategies.]
If you’re a restaurant lucky enough to have space for networking groups to hold events at your facility, and you aren’t taking advantage of that, you may be blowing your opportunity to boost your business big time… at least if you’re like some of the places I’ve networked at over the last few years.
One networking group I frequent circulates between different host restaurants, and only once in two years did one of them contribute a gift certificate to the giveaways that take place during an event (upon my suggestion the week before). I have never seen any “extra” discounts beyond normal Happy Hour specials for this group, and it’s rare to ever see an owner or any type of manager participate in the networking event.
What makes me grit my teeth most is that not one networking participant has ever walked away from a host restaurant with something enticing them to come back… not an offer of a BOGO, a free appetizer, a free dessert… nada!
Look at who attends these networking events:
The regular cast of realtors, financial planners and insurance agents along with marketing consultants, website developers, motivational speakers, health care providers, life coaches, pet care specialists, interior & landscaping decorators, etc., executives and entrepreneurs who need places to meet with clients and hold their own business events.
What’s more, since most networking groups are territorial, members not only work nearby, they most likely live nearby, too. Imagine if they left the meeting with a great offer to come back! Not only do people have a natural feeling of obligation to give back to businesses that give them valuable things, these are “networking” professionals that want to support the businesses that support them.
Bottom line: wine and dine (literally, if possible) every networking group you can, network with them at the event, and give members a reason to come back outside of networking events. Besides the obvious come-back coupon, here are some other suggestions:
To help inspire your “spirit of generosity,” think about how much it would cost you to personally go out and visit two dozen businesses in your neighborhood and pitch your restaurant. It makes the cost of chopping up a few pizzas or doling out some mac-n-cheese samples at a networking event a small price to pay, doesn’t it?