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We talk a lot about growing business through networking. It’s what we’re all about, right? I just published an e-Book, Brass Tacks: Growing Your Business Through Social Media, that covers a ton of what can be used within social media. If you don’t have a copy, definitely check out my Private MasterBuild membership at www.madra.com and join me for so much good stuff. Brass Tacks is a awesome complimentary perk.
We network a lot, and unfortunately, a lot of it can be a total waste of time. You know what I am talking about. You end up spending way too much time at a networking event talking to people who will never, ever be a prospect, or even influence a customer to buy from you. These are the people who randomly go from person to person, and event to event, “hoping to bump into someone” that is valuable to them now. It’s not a long-term relationship – it’s speed-dating! This does not last!
Stop wasting time networking the wrong way. Do your homework before, DURING, and after, and you’ll not only grow your network but your business. Here are some quick tips – and remember – events don’t have to be in person! They can be all digital, on Facebook and other social spaces. There is huge benefit to engaging with others constantly. Drop the fear. Take a look at these tips:
- Write down your primary and secondary business objectives for attending the event. In short – what do you want to get done? Is it to meet new prospects or to close existing business? Do you want to learn more about the industry or get closer to the people you already know?
- Find out who is going and contact those people ahead of time. Many events are so big that just because a person is there, doesn’t mean that you will bump into them. If the event has more than 200 people and takes place in more than one room, set a specific date, time and place to meet your contacts. Ensure that you have cell numbers if anything goes wrong. Some events now use online registration tools that generate a list of those registered in advance of the event – take advantage of those tools for your own benefit.
- Use social media to connect before the event. Go to the event’s Facebook page or their LinkedIn discussion group to have conversations with other attendees before arriving at the event. This will give a big head start in your networking and relationship building when you meet them IN PERSON or over the phone if you can’t get in front of them.
- Practice your elevator pitch. When someone asks what your business does, practice an exact 15-second reply. It should state the pain your business solves and who is going to benefit from the solutions.
- Confirm meetings already scheduled. This will ensure there are no missed opportunities with the meetings already set up or last-minute schedule changes.
- Seek other people at the event that match your networking criteria. Listen for other prospects that are like the profile of the people you went to the conference to meet. This can be through questions that are asked in session or people you meet before and after each session. Ask people you already have a relationship with at the event if they know others that match the profile of prospects you want to meet. In other words, talk it up but don’t talk product. We’re in the relationship business…everyone is.
- Be open to changing course if your strategy doesn’t work or you find out new information. Just like in daily business, strategies may need to change. In football, they call it “calling an audible on the line of scrimmage.” If you are halfway through the event and your strategy is not yielding results, then pivot in another direction. In other words, change up what doesn’t work.
- Reach out to the people you meet within a day after the event. Remind them about your conversation, jog their memory. Always offer to help. Do not try to sell them anything. Remember, you are a relationship builder and a problem solver.
- Keep them out of the business card graveyard. Enter their name into your contact management system and set a follow up a month from now. Just track it, whatever it takes.
- Always give value. Remember, we can’t sell anything to anyone. We need to be there when people are ready to take the leap on their own. We can’t convince anyone to do anything. We CAN help them see the need. That is the where it counts.
Use networking events and your strategy before, during and after the event to build trustful relationships by sending valuable information that is not about selling your products. Remember, in the long run, people buy from people they know, like and trust. That’s where you need to be!