Networking is one of my favorite marketing activities to do. I love to meet people and it’s not uncommon for me find new referral partners, vendors and even clients while sitting at a coffee shop. But, when it comes to networking, I see a lot of people going to an event (Chamber event, BNI, conference, etc) and then leave feeling like they wasted their time.
There’s a strategy to networking and it doesn’t include the “Business Card Drive By” tactic that we all see a lot. You know the one. Someone introduces themselves, talks about how awesome they are, gives you their card and then bolts off to the next person.
Let’s face it, that just doesn’t work. There’s no relationship and it’s too “salesy”
I have however found 3 simple steps that you can implement today and see a massive increase in the quality of results you get form the next event you attend. Here they are…
What’s The Goal?
Any time you want into an event, be it a local chamber or a 3000 person conference, you need to walk in the door with a goal in mind.
Remember it’s not about how many people you can meet, but about meeting the right people that makes an event successful. Who do you want to meet? Why are those people going to be the right fit for you and your business. Are you looking for clients or potential referral partners? That’s a big one. Walking in the door just looking for clients makes it almost feel like a meat market and that’s not the vibe you want to put off. You don’t want to look like you’re on the prowl.
I personally walk in the door looking for 2-3 people that will be leverage partners for me. (AKA referral partners, joint venture partners, etc)
I’m looking for someone that I can work with and create a win-win-win. I win by getting access to their audience, they win by getting access to mine and most importantly, the client wins by getting access to a new resource that will help them with a problem that the might have.
Remember To Make It About Them
Have you ever met someone at an event and all they did was talk about how awesome ether products are? I think we’ve all been there once or twice at least.
I know what it’s like to be passionate about what I do. It’s hard for me to not talk about how I help other entrepreneurs with their marketing systems. I just love to geek out on that stuff.
But, not everyone wants to hear it all the time.
That’s why I try to turn the conversation back to them by asking them a lot of questions.
Why did they get into that business? How long have they been in business? Etc.
People love to talk about themselves. If you want to make a lasting impression on on them, ask a lot of questions about them and their business. They will remember you as the person that listened to them and it’s a great way to find out more about them to see if your products are the right fit anyway.
I’ll tell you from experience that there’s nothing worse than listening to someone brag about how their products will help me so much without them stopping to find out if I have any need at all for it in the beginning. It ends up wasting both our times.
You can’t build a lasting relationship in 5 minutes. It’s just not possible. Use the short amount of time you have with someone at an event to find out if there’s enough of a relationship to move forward. Then follow up for a longer chat.
When you’re at an event you only have a few minutes. Everyone there wants to utilize the time they have at the event to meet people. Don’t monopolize anyone’s time.
Get their contact information and follow up as soon as you can after the event to see about the next step.
Even a simple email letting them know it was great meeting then and seeing if they’d have time for coffee the next week will do.
That’s when you can take more time and really get to know more about them. I love to use that second meeting as a chance to really get to know them and more about their business. Stuff that is hard to talk about in a crowded noisy event.
Don’t forget to also add them on social media!
In today’s world, that’s one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with someone and find out a lot more about them. Both professionally and personally.
Social media is a great way to find out what kind of person someone really is.
Remember that networking is and always has been one of the best ways to grow a business. No matter that industry you’re in, your connections will help you get the word out and help you find those clients that you love working with.
You just follow these three things and you’ll build a circle of connections that will keep you top of mind and will remember you as the most connected person in the room.