Networking is a powerful strategy in marketing your business, if approached the right way. It can also be a massive waste of your energy and time without criteria to adhere to in selecting the events you will attend. Once at the event of course you should follow a set structure to extract the most benefit for your effort.
Here are 7 points to keep in mind if you want to become a networking maestro:
- Research the networking event to confirm that the attendees will be predominantly your target market. There is little sense in going to a networking nightrfor “work from home” entrepreneurs if you sell high end manufacturing software packages. There may be a chance of a fruitful contact here, although the odds are not in your favour.
- Never sell your services. Instead ask questions of the people you meet and get to know what their issues and problems are. Remember you are building a relationship, not trying to close sales on the night.
- Have your elevator speach memorised and tell them what problems your product/service solves. Let them know who you serve – ” I help health care professionals attract new clients”.
- Never give your business card out unless asked.
- Don’t allow yourself to get tied up with one person for an hour. Set objectives on how many people you touch base with – say ten.
- When you meet someone ask them if they know others at the event and would they introduce you to them. You may be speaking with a key individual within the group and he/she could know scores of people. By being introduced by this person to group members you have added credibility in breaking the ice.
- Follow up after the event to every contact with an email thank you note and perhaps a free report or reference to an article that may be of interest. Add all contacts to your newsletter list.
You will be more effective in your networking endeavors if you are selective about which events you attend. Better to schedule two high potential events per week than use a shotgun approach and exhaust your self attending five!