As a savvy businessperson, you already know that there are multiple ways that you can get marketing done for your products and services, right? But did you know that simply attending networking events is one of the cheapest, yet most effective ways of not only marketing your business, but finding experienced people to partner with? Of course, there’s a challenge to networking, and that’s that it can take a lot of time to accomplish. So here’s a list of five tips that we here at Culture-FX have compiled to help you spend your time more productively while business networking.
1. Make sure you’re fully prepared.
Before you walk in that door, get your act 100% together. Bring more business cards than you anticipate needing. Bring a small notepad and a few pens, in case you (or even someone else nearby) wants to write your contact information, or some other minutiae down. Also ensure that you have your 15 second elevator pitch down pat.
2. Listen first, don’t speak.
You learn more from listening than from talking. And listening is actually your best sales tool. Great salesmen have one technique in common, and that’s their listening skills. They ask questions of people at networking events, listen for the challenges they face, and what they do. As they listen, they figure out commonalities between what solutions they are offering and what types of problems they are seeking to solve. The more commonalities they can point out between themselves and those they seek to sell to, the stronger the connection will be. And needless to say, but people who connect with others in a meaningful way are more open to working together.
3. Don’t waste time at the wrong events.
Do choose venues and events that best fit the needs of your business. There is no shortage of networking events to choose from! There are groups that focus on producing small, intimate events with an audience of around 20 people. And there are those where upwards of hundreds attend. The kind of event you attend really depends on your objective. If you seek to meet a wide variety of people that span many different backgrounds, then try the larger events. The smaller events typically enable everyone to build deeper relationships, yet there might be only one or two good leads for you at these events. There are many places online that you can learn about networking events: meetup.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Eventbrite.com, and so on. Whichever you choose, try to choose one that has a good reputation online. If you can’t find any reviews for that event online, you risk falling into a marketing event trap.
Additionally, choose a venue that has a large quantity of what you’re ultimately looking for. If you want targeted leads for your business — such as engineering leads, for example, you would fare better going to an engineering group than a general get-together, since the engineering group has a higher proportion of the types of things you’re wanting.
4. Follow up afterwards.
This is the golden rule! After leaving the event, send each of your new connections a quick email saying how you enjoyed talking with them. Mention where you met them, just in case they wait several days to open it up and forget who you are in between. The faster you follow up with them, the stronger your connection will be. This simple move tells the other person that you want to maintain a quality connection with them.
5. Remember to be smooth.
During the event, remember to move on, but be polite while doing it. It happens to the best of us — we’ll get trapped in a conversation with a person that’s no longer of any business interest to us. How do you get away from that person? Just don’t spend a lot of time with these non-beneficial conversations. Simply excuse yourself politely with a smile, saying “Excuse me, it was nice to talk to you, but I must be moving along now.” Most people will take that in stride.