Think about the last networking event you attended. Does the following process sound familiar?
1. Met a few new people
2. Handed out some of your business cards
3. Never heard from any of the people you met
It is not unusual to go to a networking event and never receive contact from someone you’ve met. Before you become too smug, ask yourself: Did you follow up with the people you met?
One problem with networking events is that everyone goes home and waits for the other person to do something.
You don’t want to be just another sales person. You want to stand out; You want to be different, right? It won’t take much to stand out in the crowd of most networking event attendees because the follow-up bar is set pretty low.
- Enter new contacts into your contact management software or at least an excel spreadsheet.
- Send an email the next morning telling them how nice it was to meet them and cite one or two of the topics you discussed at the event.
- Look for them on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you there. See if they have a Twitter account and follow them.
- Give them a call within the first week and invite them out for coffee. The purpose of this invite is to start to better understand their business, so if the opportunity arrives you can refer them to your network.
- Touch base with them on a regular interval, comment on their twitter or LinkedIn status and look for items that you think might be of value to them. The goal is to create a long term connection.
People like to be noticed and remembered. This simple strategy doesn’t take a lot of time but it does set you apart from the normal network event participant. Showing interest in someone else’s business will pay huge dividends for your business.
In our webinar “Using LinkedIn To Generate Sales” one of the things I suggest you do is to check who your connections have added to their network on a regular basis. This is a great source of new connections as you will uncover people you know who might have just joined LinkedIn and connections you may have forgotten about.
LinkedIn provides you with a simple way to quickly check who your connections have added to their network:
- Click on ‘Contacts’ at the top of your home page. This will take you to the ‘My Connections’ page.
- Select the ‘Recent Activity’ filter in the left panel.
- Click on the ‘Connections With New Connections’ filter in the left panel.
- Click on their name in the middle panel to refresh the right panel with their mini-Profile.
- Click on the number in the ‘Connections’ field of the connection’s Profile.
If you do this every day you will be a better idea of what your network is doing and who they are connecting with.
Facebook announced a new profile page this week. It allows you to highlight friends, and show off photos better. However, you also now have the ability to provide more detail about yourself in your profile such as your work history, current projects and projects you have worked on. It also includes a more in-depth section on your educational background. All of this makes me wonder: Is Facebook making a run at LinkedIn? All the parts are available for an online resume and professional networking – so is Facebook looking to be the place where you will search for your next job?
You can upgrade by going to www.facebook.com/about/profile
Do you have a networking toolkit? No entrepreneur should leave home without one. Take a few minutes now and pull one together. Your kit should contain the following items:
- plenty of business cards
- couple of pens
- invites to an upcoming event your hosting
- business cards of professionals you prefer
You also need to have a networking mindset; which means act like a host not a guest.
Think of how you might act if you were hosting the event instead of just coming as a guest. Would you be more out-going? Would you operate in a ‘giving’ mode? Would you look for lulls in conversation and introduce people to each other? If you act like a host you will find you are the one who will get more quality contacts.
Social media can feel a little like the arms race – everybody rushing to stock pile followers, contacts, and connections. Do you collect friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter like baseball cards? You might want to reconsider this strategy. T he old way of marketing and networking was “How Many?” The better approach is “Who?” And a new study has just come out that backs that up. It seems the more online contacts you have, the less networking power you have. This is according to new research done by Professor Zsolt Katona from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, Professor Miklos Sarvary from INSEAD in France, and Peter Pal Zubcsek, a Ph.D. Candidate at INSEAD.
The study found to get the most out of social networking efforts, it’s very important for people to communicate with their network. The more friends you have, the harder it is to respond and stay on top of your network and respond to the messages and posts. Therefore, your networking power is weaker than someone who has less friends but stays in better touch with them.
So what does this mean to you?
There are three points that I take away from this:
- Keep your friend list manageable (number might be different for everyone)
- You have to use the tools to be effective. This means you must dedicate time everyday to use it and work your network
- Use the tools to set up face to face meeting when possible. If you’re going to be in another city on business, let your network know and try to set up some meetings.
Have you ever been at a networking event and the person you were talking to spent a majority of time looking around the room instead of looking at you? Were they just killing time until something much more interesting came around? When this happens, it changes your view of the person you are speaking with. Don’t let yourself ever fall into the temptation to scan the room while someone is talking to you. Engage fully with the person in front of you. Here are some tips to use at your next networking event.
1. Make the first approach. Introduce yourself to someone you have never met before. Most people are hesitant in these situations, so be the one to initiate the conversation; it will show that you have confidence and you will be seen as someone of influence.
2. Listen intently to the person you are talking to. Make them your focus for the period of time they are in front of you. You want them to feel like the most important person you have meet.
3. Ask questions about them and their business. Spend a majority of the time letting them talk. By letting them talk, you can start to determine if they might be a prospect for your business. If you do the majority of the talking, you potentially waste time trying to connect with someone who is not part of you ideal target market.
4. My mother will appreciate this suggestion: Always be polite. If you need to end the conversation, wait for a natural break and then you can offer, “I’m glad to have met you, it was nice speaking with you.” Avoid phony exit excuses such as, “I think I see my dentist over there – I better go say hello.” We all know when someone is doing it to us. A simple, “Thanks for talking to me – good to have met you,” is a much better closing.