However networking offline is a very cost, time and energy efficient marketing activity. Combining online strategies with the more traditional approach can be very powerful and lots of fun!
Step 1: Purpose Process
Decide what you want to accomplish and why you’re going to a networking event. Is it to get to know someone who can complement your business? To spend a bit of time with as many people as possible? Have a simple goal in mind and work to achieve this. It may be the simple objective of finding one new lead.
Step 2: Showing Up!
- At the event, look professional, BE confident and smile. Look as if you’re pleased to be at the event or people won’t approach you. Who wants to deal with a grump? Introduce yourself and ask the other person what they do. Focus on getting to know them, ask lots of great questions and listen, listen, listen!
- When you are at a networking event, your goal is to meet people. Don’t stand off in a corner by yourself, or spend most of the time talking with your friends. Go out of your way to meet people.
- Ask for the other person’s business card and write notes to yourself on the back. Always ask for the card at the beginning of the conversation, because in the event your conversation is interrupted, you’ve already got the card and can touch base at a later date.
- Arrive early and leave late. It is amazing how much more you can get from a networking event by being there as long as possible. Near the end of an event people are more comfortable (sometimes a little lubricated thanks to a glass of wine!) and more relaxed.
Step 3: Follow Up!
Collecting a lot of business cards is only a small part of the equation. The single biggest networking failure is that people don’t follow-up after the initial contact. Make sure YOU email, pick up the phone or connect through social media. Call the people you just met who could help you in your business or even more importantly, those YOU can help. Act promptly! This is your chance to demonstrate your credibility and reliability.
Step 4: Systemise a Regular Follow-Up
You could follow-up your initial approach with a coffee, thank you note, e-mail etc. Whatever YOU choose to do – but DO something!
Diarising regular catch-up’s quarterly or monthly through Outlook is definitely an option, depending on the type of relationships you’re building with that person. Keep in touch with those you meet with newsletters, social media, attending other events or whatever opportunities suit your industry.
The main thing is to be upbeat and enjoy yourself. Networking CAN be a cost effective way to grow your business – all it takes is practice. Remember it can also be a lot of fun so enjoy! And for more tips and tools to keep your costs down sign up to our free Marketing Insights.