Business Networking is a powerful way to start to get yourself known and see how your business idea lands. But 99.9% of business owners do it wrong and miss out on forming deep relationships and clients. If you follow my advice below you will start to enjoy business networking and see the rewards fast.
Choose 5 Business Networking Events
- Go to Twitter and follow each networking event.
- Connect with the networking leader on Twitter and start to tweet before the event and make yourself known.
- If the chosen networking events have a list of people who attend (BNI and 4 Networking do) then try and connect with them on twitter too and say you will be going to the event. That way when you go to the event you will already have a relationship built with them and it will be:
- a) less scary
- b) less cold
- c) you will already have something to talk about
If you can connect with people on Facebook (some people use Facebook for work as well as personal) then go and connect with the leader and those who attend before the event. Do not be worried if they do not add you on Facebook, they may keep it friends only.
As with Twitter go and add them on LinkedIn and send them a message that you will be attending their networking event. See if they can recommend any good groups for reaching your ideal audience, see who their ideal client is so you can refer people to them.
The more work you do before the networking event the more you will get out of the event.
AT THE EVENTS
Relax, be friendly, and ask questions. Do not sell. The aim of business networking events is to build relationships not sell to people when you don’t know them. Unless they ask you, make the conversation about them. Knowledge is power and with the knowledge you will know if you can help them. Either with your services, or refer someone else.
You will of course take business cards with you. But the aim when you are networking is to get information from others, not give your cards out willy nilly.
When you get a business card from someone, take time to look at the card, and then ask them if they would be happy for you to send them your free eBook/join your very informative newsletter/whitepaper/blog etc. Then write on the card either YES/NO (whilst they are still standing in front of you) so that when you get back to the office you can add them and send them the eBook/whitepaper/blog that was fitting for them.
If you haven’t already connected on the social media channels, make sure you ask them if they are on social media, and would they like to connect. This way you can continue the relationship after the event.
AFTER THE EVENTS
Send all who wanted to hear from you a ‘great to meet you’ email with the free eBook etc. to them.
Add them to your newsletter list if they agreed to hear from you.
Connect on LinkedIn and Facebook and jump on Twitter, follow them and do a shout out and share one of their tweets.
When you have added them on LinkedIn make sure you tag them (this is possible when you look at your contacts, there is a tagging option). Use the networking event as a tag name so that you know where you met them first.
If there is anyone that you really felt you connected with arrange a 1:1 with them and spend 30mins getting to know them better outside of the networking event.
If there was anyone at the business networking event you really wish you could have spoken with but didn’t then make sure you reach out to them and connect. LinkedIn is the perfect way to do so.
If you follow this simple networking process you will find you spend more time building relationships than just going to networking events, eating breakfast or lunch, and wasting your time. Remember the 4 hours you spend at networking events is very precious. If you imagine your time is worth at least £250 an hour it cost you £1000 to go to that networking event.
Do not lose sight of the power of deep relationships when building your business.