In the NRG Business networking System we stress the importance of identifying your target market.
There are two main reasons for this:
1. People can only introduce you to the right people if they know who you want.
2. You can concentrate your networking efforts in building the right relationships.
When I ask people to identify their target market a common answer is "I don't really have a target market. I deal with all sorts of different business types and sizes". Most of the time this is simply a misunderstanding of what target market really means. People often think it means a particular type of business in a particular industry. You may have heard the term 'vertical market' from marketing types to describe this. Many small business owners and professionals have a more 'horizontal market' in that they provide services across different industries and business types. Their target market will be defined by the particular need or problem that their customers have.
I spoke with someone last week in this situation. She is a management accountant and works with a diverse group of business owners as clients. The thing they have in common is that they run successful business, but have no real understanding of the financial side of things. This often leads to cash flow problems and short term reactive decision making. She makes sure they adopt systems to give the current financial information about their business. This helps them make the right decisions and plan for the future. These are the things that identify her target market.
If you struggle to explain your target market then start with your existing clients and see what common needs or problems they have that they engage you to help with. Nigel Temple of the Marketing Compass has a helpful phrase in this regard. He talks about a market segment as being a group of people with shared needs.