No matter what industry you’re in, at the core of it, business is about people. Networking events, from conferences to small industry meetings, give you a chance to meet others and expand your network. But they can also be overwhelming or frustrating, if you don’t come away from them accomplishing what you had hoped. Take advantage of every chance to network by thinking and planning ahead.
Consider your goals. Maybe even write them out and be as specific as possible.
- Are there certain people you need to meet? What questions do you need to ask them?
- Do you need to get the word out about your brand? How many people do you need to connect with?
- Do you need to learn a specific tool or about a new product?
Read up as much as you can about the event. Check out the schedule, maps, venue. Look for photos or reviews from past events on social media platforms. Even if it’s a smaller or newer event, educating yourself can help you make your own timeline based on your goals, so you know where to be and when.
Based on your goals, bring the materials you need to make them happen. That might include:
- A few business cards
- Brochures or postcards
- Your smart phone for exchanging info (but don’t be tempted to scroll social media)
- A notebook and pen
- Samples of your product
Every event is going to look a little different and having tangibles about your business may or may not be appropriate. You want to be strategic – and not salesy in your approach. Here’s a great technique offered by Inc. magazine to go hands-free to your next networking event.
Give More, Take Less
Keep in mind that at any networking event, whether it’s a large conference or local meeting, everyone is there to learn and grow and share. Look for opportunities to help others reach their goals and make the connections they are looking for.
It’s all about the Power of One! Remember that it only takes one amazing contact – one potential sale, one potential employee, one potential gamechanger. You don’t need to meet 50 people. Have the mentality that everyone is valuable. Treat everyone like they are your best client. And remember that it’s about quality over quantity when it comes to connections.
If you’re introverted by nature, bring a colleague to hold you accountable to your goals, but resist the temptation to stay talking with one person and not get out and mingle. This is your opportunity. Make the most of it.
Networking can be draining – no matter your personality. Especially if you start to feel bogged down by meeting, but not really connecting with people. Go back to our previous tip when you start to feel your energy draining. Look for ways to give. People you can introduce to one another. Opportunities or ideas you can offer. That will put you back on track and in the right state of mind.
Follow Up Soon
The best way to solidify those connections is follow up. Connect with those you’ve met via email, social media, etc. Reach out and remind them of your conversation, provide any content or information you promised, and mention any requests you had made. Keep it relatable and relevant.
Create a system of follow ups that makes sense for you. You can use something as simple as a legal pad or stickie notes. Or step it up with a spreadsheet. Or take it to the next level with a CRM (customer relationship management) system. Don’t have one of those or feeling intimidated? We help our clients set up CRMs all the time and would love to develop a system that works for you!
Determine Your ROI
Whether you are traveling for an event or attending something local, you will need a return on your time and monetary investment, for this event to be successful for you. It’s true that sometimes you have to take a leap, try something new, and it might be a wash. Other times, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities flowing your way. Keep track of what worked, who you met, what and how much they purchased, how much ROI you received, and when the next event is.
Yes, this level of in-depth analytics is possible and we can help you pull all that information together into usable and actionable systems. Want to talk about it?
Here at McNary Marketing & Design, we love to network! Whether it’s here locally in Iowa or at events around the country, we geek out about marketing technologies and all the tools available to help you “sell more while doing less.” Contact us anytime if you want to talk about CRMs, networking and sales analytics or just business in general. How can we help you?