How much do you put into your networking efforts? Are you a member of your local chamber? Do you participate in industry “mixers?” Most importantly, do you actively follow up after each event?
Let’s face it, attending an event is the easy part. Think about it – like-minded, likeable people exchanging cards, occasionally drawing a solid referral, and all the while enjoying free food and good company. (When it’s put that way, I don’t know why EVERYONE isn’t a full-time networker.)
Networking is almost always fun. I always make new friends. I’m always hopeful I can work with them, and I’m always glad I met them – even the ones who aren’t looking for marketing partners. (After all, I’ll never know when I might need THEIR services.)
When done properly, networking is a two-way street. Every person I meet at one of these events has questions about Triple Strength, and I always have questions for them. Networking is a conversation. When you do it right, it’s an ongoing conversation.
At Triple Strength, we take every opportunity our schedules allow to speak with other business leaders. It is never not time well spent.
This isn’t a “local” thing, either.
I don’t believe in long-distance relationships, so I go where my clients are, period. Recent client visits have taken me across America and around the world. When a client needed us in Carrollton, Kentucky, that’s where you’d find us. Same with Sao Paulo, Brazil and Gyeongju, South Korea. (Nice thing about South Korea is the time difference. You literally get home a half hour before you left.)
But look, as much fun as networking can be, the real magic happens one day later.
If you network in teams, be sure to get your team together immediately after the event to talk about it. Share what you learned. Talk about the people you met. Emphasize how your team could be of service.
Then, armed with new knowledge, new ideas, and handfuls of business cards, get to work.
Someone needs to make return calls – because there are always people who want to continue the conversation! Someone else should IMMEDIATELY enter all of those new contacts into your database.
No, databasing contact info after an event is not rude. It’s required! Whether you use an expensive CRM or an old-fashioned card file, keeping track of who you know is crucial to developing long-term relationships!
Yes, you read that correctly. You aren’t creating a lead list. You aren’t filling out a call sheet. You aren’t even selling stuff. You are building long-term relationships.
To that end, here are some easy-to-follow networking tips:
- Don’t sell. I mentioned this earlier. You’re not there to talk about yourself! You’re there to learn about your future partners.
- Don’t skimp. If you’re going to display, then DISPLAY. Show off. Make sure your booth or table represents the best of what do. After all, if you’re out there listening to what others have to say, it’s critical that your display is there to talk about you.
- Don’t stop. When the event is over, your real work is just beginning. Get those business cards into a database, and get a letter out ASAP thanking your new friends for their precious time. If you have a newsletter, sign them up! If you don’t have a newsletter, now’s the time. (In fact, you may want to take a second right now and sign up for Triple Strength’s newsletter, if you haven’t already!)
- Be social. Connect and re-connect. Use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as appropriate. Remember, you’re not building a list, you’re building a community. And communities communicate. They get to know each other. They look out for each other. And yes, they do in fact buy from each other.
- Be straight. Don’t mess with your new friends. They know you’re in it to build your business. So are they. Just because you both want to work together is no reason not to! (Someone should tweet that!) Just leave the coyness and manipulation at home. Your new friends will respect you – and work with you – as long as they trust you.