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Meet Markets

Best bets for finding customers

You know your new company needs customers, but where do you find them? A national survey of sales professionals found the most valuable place to look for new customers was business-related functions, closely followed by social events at trade shows and civic or public service events.

The survey was conducted by The Nierenberg Group, a business relationship management consulting firm in New York City, in conjunction with New York University's Management Institute. The firm's founder, Andrea Nierenberg, defines a business-related function as any business event where members of your target market are likely to be. Social events at trade shows include such opportunities for interaction with prospective customers as breakfasts, luncheons and other mixer-type events. Civic or public service events include those sponsored by chambers of commerce, service clubs such as Rotary or Kiwanis, and other community organizations.

The advantage of these locations is the potential for face-to-face contact, which builds a professional network and lays the foundation for both direct sales and future referrals. The survey also ranked referrals as the most important new business-building technique, and cold calls as the least important. So even if you're happier locked in your office, you need to get out and meet people.

"You have to look for opportunities to connect with people all the time," says Nierenberg. "Think about your target audience, and [immerse] yourself in that world."

Contact Source

The Nierenberg Group,

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »