There is a lot of advice dispensed from so-called networking experts, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts I’ve been to more network events than most of them have. How many networking events have I been to? I stopped counting a long time ago. In my vast experience, I’ve learned a trick or two. Here is the information I’m willing to share. If you see me at a networking event, lets swap cards. I think the two of us could work together…
- Networking is not a time to sell, but a time to make contacts.
- Ask about other networker’s businesses, and then tell them about yours.
- Find out how you and the person you’re networking with can benefit each other.
Events to Attend:
- Focus on events that attract your target prospect.
- Attend events outside of the typical type of event you normally go to, as there are likely to be fewer people offering the same service as you.
- Treat every event you attend as a networking opportunity.
- Have a 30-second commercial (elevator speech) prepared.
- Prepare you’re your name tag with a BIG first name and smaller business name.
- Be the first to arrive. You will have a chance to start conversations quickly.
- State your name, business, and a quick value statement when introduced.
- Make connections with others by being a resource.
- Carry business cards at all times!
- Make sure your business card conveys the correct message.
- Make a note on the back of business cards to jar your memory when you give someone a call.
When networking remember to:
- Listen, as this will help you understand other networker’s potential pains and challenges.
- Use FORE (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Entertainment) to create bonding conversations.
- Ask potential prospects “How can I help you?”
- When you meet a good contact, make an appointment to get together one-on-one right away.
- Follow-up within 24-hours and choose the right medium according to the recipient (seriously, no one used handwritten notes anymore).
Top-of-the-Mind Awareness (TOMA):
- How often do you contact your prospects?
- What are you sending or saying to prospects (do you automatically add them to your monthly newsletter)?
- What is your call to action?
Most importantly: Word-of-Mouth or Referral Marketing should be an integral part of your integrated marketing plan.
I hate to do this, but what networking guide would be complete without a little bit of stock dialogue? Be interested, be interesting, and NEVER leave a networking event until you’ve handed out all of your business cards. Happy networking!!