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 the typical type of event you normally go to, as there are likely to be less 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.
- Consider including a picture on your business card for better recollection. People can usually only remember names for 24 hours.
- 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 right away.
- Follow-up with handwritten notes or cards.
Top-of-the-Mind Awareness (TOMA):
- How often do you contact your prospects?
- What are you sending or saying to prospects?
- 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 prospecting!!
As an executive at The Alternative Board, David Halpern has been blazing a wide swath of small business success for the better part of three decades. You won’t hear it from him, but David has forgotten more small business success tips than most business consultants will ever learn.