This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with a young business man who was fairly new to the networking world. He was loving his experience in the groups that he belonged to, but knew that there were likely some things that he could improve to make it a more profitable experience for his business. He was in a field that was fairly easy to refer, but he just wasn’t seeing the results quite yet. While there could be 100 different reasons for his lack of results, the bulk of our conversation centered around his target market.

When I asked him to to tell me about his target market, he explained that he really loved working with start-up businesses. Then the very next sentence, he began talking about the work that he was doing with wedding planners and established restaurants in the area. My response……..wait, hold up a minute! So, what do you specialize in? Is it start-up businesses, weddings, or restaurants?

Unfortunately, this gentleman is not alone at all. One of the most challenging topics for small business owners is the idea of having a firm target market. Most professionals say that they have a target market, say that they specialize in a specific area, but when it really comes down to it, they quickly recite ten different target markets. Even when someone finally decides on a target market, they often change their mind over and over again until they forget what they were originally trying to accomplish.

Whether you are talking about traditional marketing or business networking, it is essential to have a short and specific target market in order to see the results you are seeking. Here are some of the most common reasons to have a target market that I have come across when working with business networkers.

1. Be Known As The Expert – One of the most important reasons to have a clearly defined target market is the desire to be know as the expert in a specific area of business. In one of my past businesses, I developed a large network of over 100 financial advisors that were actively referring business to me. While I had the desire to return the favor, I found it very difficult, since everyone essentially did the same thing. Out of the 100 advisors, only 2 stood out. One of them specialized in working with nurses and the other with family of special needs children. You better believe, whenever I ran across a nurse or a family with a special needs child, I knew exactly where to refer them! The other advisors fell into the “Jack of All Trades” category, and therefore were never top of mind.

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