Is there anyone who absolutely love, love, loves networking? If it’s not the circus act of trying to balance the drink, food and be able to shake hands, it’s being able to talk to someone without worrying that you have something stuck in your teeth, right?
Did you know that if you go to an event with 100 people:
- 3 of them are ready to buy what you’re selling right now
- 7 might be ready
- 30 are not sure if they’re ready
- 30 don’t think they’re ready
- 30 know they’re not ready
So, right off the bat, you’re going in with crappy odds.
Here are four ways to change that.
- Know your ideal client and go to events where they hang out. If you work with small business owners, don’t go to an event for corporate executives.
- Serve, don’t sell. Think “How many people can I help?”
- Listen (to your competition and your ideal clients)
- Be R.E.A.L
Being REAL is based on the four core principles that every business should have as its foundation: realistic, engaging, authentic, and of the mindset you want to have a longlasting relationship with your clients.
Someone who isn’t a client today may be tomorrow or may know your ideal client, or may be the perfect person to collaborate with.
Networking can be in person, over social media, or via email. Here are four tips to keep in mind when you go to an event.
- It’s best to go alone because then you’ll be forced to talk to people, but if you can’t stomach that idea, go with someone who likes to network. The potential problem with that is that you may be tempted to spend the whole time talking to that person, so make a pact that you’ll split up and talk to other people.
- Connect with people before the event. This works great if it’s a conference and they’ve posted the attendee list. Find them on Twitter or Facebook or use the event hashtag and start a conversation with them. That way, when you get to the event, you can look for eachother and it won’t be weird.
- Bring business cards and a Sharpie. This a no brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to an event and forgotten them or someone I was talking to has. This is SO important! Also, bring the kind of Sharpie that writes like a pen so that you can make notes on your conversation to remind you later.
There’s nothing worse than making a great connection, and later being like “Oh crap, who is this person?” The reason for the Sharpie is because many people have glossy cards and pens don’t write well on them.
- Follow up within 48 hours. Send them a short email saying it was nice to meet them and you hope you can connect again in the future. If you actually talked about getting together at the event, get it on the calendar. If you let this slip or you attend a lot of events, the regular day to day busyness is going to creep in and you’ll never get it done, so make sure you make time for it. Also, mention something you learned about them in the email. Maybe they told you their daughter was in a dance recital that weekend. Ask how it went. It will help refresh your memory and little details can be impressive.
Now, networking does not always happen at an event. You could re-connect with someone on the street, or have someone you’ve been meaning to touch base with comment on your blog.
Here are 4 tips for networking via social media or email.
- Always follow up! Use casual opportunities to show admiration for a colleague’s work, offer praise for a recent accomplishment, or just to say hello. If you want to further the connection, suggest getting together for coffee. These little connections can blossom into a network of people at your disposal or a true friendship.
- Say hello. It can be absolutely nerve wracking to walk up to a total stranger, stick out your hand, and say hello, but in an email, you have a chance to compose your thoughts. If there’s someone you really want to connect with and don’t know anyone who can make the introduction, sending an email that expresses how much you admire their work is a great first start. Once you have a dialogue going, you can suggest getting together or let them know if you plan to be in the city where they live.
- Say Don’t always be thinking “what’s in it for you?” Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and say yes if someone asks you to do a guest post on their blog, help them promote something via social media, or offer advice.
- Comment and engage with others via social media. That is one of the best ways to connect with your peers online. Comment on a blog post or share it on social media. When you engage with someone online, it makes it a lot easier to say hello or follow up and it makes it easier for them to say yes.
So, now you have this great network. What on earth do you do with it? How do you make it work for you? Here’s 4 ways to ask your network for help:
- Have faith. Asking is scary because we’re so afraid of rejection, but there’s an etiquette agreement in social media called social currency that makes most people pretty willing to help if they can.
- Ask early. Give your network enough time to figure out how they can help you by asking early and provide them with enough detail so they can make an informed decision. If you want your network to help you launch a new product, give them the date, the content, the images and the timeline and let them know what you need to do.
- Make it simple and open-ended. Don’t make it so complicated that they can’t understand what you want. Also, give them the option to say no.
- Don’t take it personally. Saying no is so hard to hear, but sometimes it happens. Don’t let a “no” derail you from achieving your goals. Your network is there for more than just the asks. Use them to learn from, bounce ideas off of, make new connections and, of course, help them when they need it.
Thanks for sharing this space with me!
Robin Taney, (aka the “Get R.E.A.L Girl”) is the owner and founder of Studio 4 PR. She works with creative, independent, and “kitchen table” entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to be found by their perfect client. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and sign up for mailing list You are welcome to use this post on your blog, provided you do not alter it in any way and include a link to this blog.
Robin is also a co-author of the bestselling book, Navigating Entrepreneurship: Secrets to Put You on an Unstoppable Course, which hit #1 in Hot New Releases less than 12 hours after launching on Amazon.