I have been running and attending networking events for nearly 4 years now and I have seen mistakes at these events and I have made plenty myself. I am hoping that if I share these with you, you can avoid making these or recognise the fact you do a few and stop!
Be prepared, have business cards, leaflets, roller banners and a 40-second pitch that tells people about your business and how you can help them.
All of the above are tools that you are in control of and that can help you look professional, welcoming and someone who knows what they are doing (even if inside you are a nervous wreck).
Plan what you want to get out of each meeting.
If you go into a meeting and you do not know what you want then you have not got a plan. Know what service, product, the person you need to speak to or the latest news that you want to share.
Get to know people and ask open questions.
So many people forget that people buy from people that they know, like and trust so find out about the person as well as the business. Ask questions, build a rapport with them and then find out about their business.
Add value to the interaction and have something to send or help that person which is free.
This is a great way of adding value to an interaction and giving away free advice. Yes, I said it, give away free advice. I believe that if you add value to an interaction by supplying a useful tip, sending a blog that would help or passing on a useful contact that you have then that person receiving it will be more likely to carry on interacting with you. They will also be more likely to buy from you as they trust you and you have helped them in the past.
Do not go into a sales pitch as soon as you meet someone for the first time.
This is a classic mistake where people go up to you and start selling to you straight away before they even know you. You sadly see this all the time and it destroys any hope of building any trust between the two parties involved.
Do not talk yourself out of the sale especially if you know someone well.
This is something that I am really good at! I know I can help people but I talk myself out of sales or just don’t recommend myself enough as I have always been used to recommend other people. The problem is that you are harming that person who asked as they might well need your help and also it will hinder your business.
Choose the right networking group based on your personality.
Every networking group has a different feel, formality and format and you need to choose the best one for one. This could be the best for your business or personality but I would recommend testing different groups out to see which one feels the best for you.
Use a team role, speaking slot or help out within the group to raise your profile.
At some events, you need a team to organise the events which would help raise your profile. Also, if you can become a guest speaker or have a speak that you can could then that is another way of people remembering you.
Use social media to keep in touch with people in between meetings.
This is another thing that people do not tend to think about but is very powerful. IF you meet someone at a meeting or event then start connecting with them outside of the meeting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This way you are continuing the conversation in between meetings so the next time you meet you will know more about them and the conversation will be warmer.
Audit your Networking to see which are working and which are not. Explore why this could be and change your approach.
If you are networking and not getting the results then you need to look at why this is. Is it the type of people at the events, is it the structure of the meetings or is it the way you are networking or something completely different. Every meeting is costing you time, money and energy so make sure that if it isn’t working for you, you know why.
And one more for a little something extra……..
This might sound daft but make sure you are being 100% at every meeting. Do not try to be someone else or have a persona as people will not buy into you as a person and therefore will certainly not buy into your business.
If you have any networking tips that you would like to share then please let me know and I hope you found this useful!
All the best and speak to you soon!