Remember when your parents told you “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? Well those wise words apply to networking strategies today. Networking in today’s marketplace can be a time waster or a great use of your time. It’s up to you. It’s not so much what events you attend, it’s what you do while at the events.
Here are a couple of key reminders:
1. Participate ~ don’t just join a group and wait for the phone to ring. Get involved by joining committees, sponsoring events, hosting after hours, donating time and energy doing something besides sitting on the sidelines. Work the group by participating.
2. Find out what you can do for whomever you meet. It’s not about taking up your company….it’s all about giving. Giving information to new prospects that you meet about how you can make their lives easier. Finding out what they do and how you can best help each other.
3. Spend time networking where your customers and prospects network. First, identify your target and focus your time, energy and money on them. Know where they go and make it a point to be there also.
4. Get there early and stay late. Be sure you have “worked the room” at an event until the doors close. Talk with everyone, be ready with business cards and appointment scheduler. Set as many appointments as possible during the event. If you can suggest meetings for coffee or a casual get together, these will your company out in front of prospects and build the relationship.
5. Don’t put the cards you gathered in a desk drawer. Use them! Follow up with in person visits or phone calls to all the new people you met. Ask permission to add them to your mailing list for the future. Then work the mailing list with soft touches followed up by more strategic, useful information.
If you follow these steps, you will find people will seek you out and search for you at events. Next will be the influx of new business and the cycle continues. So, it’s not so much what you attend, it’s all about what you do with the information you gather when you attend networking events.