Do you network effectively in a crowd? Does the time and money you spend attending association meetings and events turn into revenue?
Networking is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to increase sales. But just showing up doesn’t cut it. Simple preparation and a well thought-out networking strategy will turn a networking “meet and eat” into a series of lucrative sales opportunities.
Follow some simple rules during networking events to revolutionize your approach to building new business. First, arrive to the event during the registration period, which often begins 30 minutes before the meeting starts. Use that time to meet as many people as you can. Choose the organizations you attend based on the objectives you have and the results you get. If you are not comfortable meeting new people then find someone who will introduce you or follow the steps below.
These five, pre-networking event steps ensure that you will be prepared to build relationships, close business and leave your networking meeting with contacts and connections that will show up on your business’ bottom line.
- Figure out the best places to meet your ideal prospects. Make a list of the networking events you attend on a regular basis, and analyze how much business you have received from each; determine if you should continue attending. Even if you are attending for charitable purposes the relationships you build can result in referrals or direct business. A newspaper or business journal will be helpful to find listings of local networking events. You can also research organizations on the Internet and find local chapters. There are many wonderful business and service organizations for almost any profession you may be in. Don’t just attend your professional organization, visit the others as well. The people who attend those are potential clients, referral sources and maybe new friends.
- Set goals for each networking event. What do you want to accomplish at the event? What would you like to come away with? Don’t leave without meeting your objective. If your objective is to meet 10 new people, then stay until you meet it.
- Dress for success. Confidence is integral to the first impression you give when meeting potential clients and business partners. Wear something comfortable that makes you feel like a million bucks. Always wear your company name tag. If you look great, you will feel great and be more comfortable meeting new people.
- Attend new events with a member who will introduce you. If you don’t know any members, call the president of the organization and let her know that you’d like to attend as someone’s guest. Call that person in advance and ask her to introduce you to the members at the event. Is there someone who will be attending that you have been trying to meet? Ask specifically to be introduced to that person.
- Be prepared with a great answer to “What do you do?” If asked, give your 30-second answer and then talk about the results your customers receive in the form of a short success story. Rehearse, not so that it sounds scripted, but enough so that it sounds great. Stating the name of your company and your title is not enough. You need to say something that helps people understand what you do and engage them.