Business networking sucks
My wife tells me that every time she phones the office I seem to be at another business networking meeting - a slight exaggeration but I do attend a fair amount.
She asked the obvious question, "Do they work that well for you?"
My response was simple: "No, business networking SUCKS..." I was being facetious, I do enjoy attending networking meetings, and you know what they have been successful for my business. As with any business activity, you only get out what you put into it.
Many people have written lyrical about the benefits of networking meetings, for me though there are a couple of must do's:
1. Be memorable - believe me I attend a lot of these things and I get business cards thrown at me all the time, I get back to the studio and I've forgotten who it was and the conversation we've had. My business is an online creative agency that are brand guardians with the added benefit of applying social marketing strategy. When we look at brand strategy in marketing, one of the most important concepts is that a brand is not just a memorable name or logo it is an experience. A great brand communicates values and emotions that get called to mind whenever someone thinks of the name or logo. So think about a hook!
2. Referrals - Having established niceties a key question must be: "How can I know if someone I am speaking with would be a good prospect for you?" In other words you are immediately in their favour; there is likely to be a moment of wow, he wants to listen to me... and you will be remembered. Building trust is the key to great networking and the more people you help, the more they will feel inclined to help you.
3. Where does the business come from? Almost all the time the business you get from networking meetings is not from the person you meet but someone they know. So follow up on the contact that you've made, have a meeting between the 2 of you to better understand their business and providing you with an opportunity to embelish your story (pitch).
There are loads more hints and tips I could give you but ultimately you need to prepare before you arrive, have an agenda, think about what it is you want to achieve or have the name of a company you are interested in being introduced to at the forefront of your mind. Most of all though - have fun and remember to smile!
Picture courtesy of F4B