People in your personal network include friends, family, business colleagues, and your customers. Find a way to stay in touch with them so you can tap them for the necessary information.
One way you can do this is through a newsletter or online ezine. Provide a feedback form or frequent online surveys to gain your customers’ perspectives. In the case of your business contacts, meet with them often. Make sure you write down any information they have that may give you insight into the industry.
Certain associations also have networking events. Attend as many of these as possible. You can also network at conferences and corporate functions.
Talk advantage of casual conversations by asking appropriate questions and listening. Don’t attend the events with an obvious notebook. Instead, keep one with you and write in it during moments when you aren’t being observed. Or, you can wait until you get home to write your impressions of the evening.
It is crucial to write down anything you feel is important. These insights can prove to be valuable.
Also, don’t forget the importance of trade shows. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the booths of your competitors and talk with the representatives. No need to tell them who you are. Just start a conversation and record your impressions of the encounter.
Any contacts you have in the media are also important. They can also provide insights and analysis into your industry, competition, and market. Attend speeches and other events put on by media outlets.
You can also get information for your suppliers and directly from your competitors. Visit their stores and their locations to get even more insights. If you don’t want to visit the competition yourself, have friends do it for you. Just make sure nothing illegal happens. You don’t want to be unethical.