Networking is one of the best things you can do to grow your business, but many people struggle with how to effectively get the word out about what they do at these events. It doesn’t need to be that way though; I’ve learned that networking can be effective (and, yes, even fun!) for all personality types by following a few simple guidelines.
I’ve been networking for a long time. In 2003 I founded the Burnside Networking Group (BNG) and during the lockdown of 2020, I founded Getting Real Online (GRO), an online discussion-led networking group.
I’ve witnessed a lot of different approaches to networking during this time, some that work well, and others not so much. Some people are incredibly magnetic and receive a healthy stream of referrals despite not having to promote themselves as much. Others are shyer, and it may take them a bit longer to connect, but their integrity and industry knowledge helps them build on their personal brand and become great referral partners.
Then there are the people who enter networking events like a bull in a china shop, toss around their business cards, skip meaningful conversations, collect cards and go home – only to harass, I mean call, everyone the next day asking them to buy their product or service.
In the virtual world, they immediately toss their URLs in the chat before the moderator invites the participants to do so. Upon introductions, they simply say who they are and all the things they do. No connection is attempted. No relevant fact or story is shared to connect with the audience. They’re only focused on themselves, not on their potential client’s needs.
Why do they do this? They are on their own agenda – to collect cards to “sell to” later on.
Most of us get a bad taste for this tactic. Especially us, as Maritimers, known for throwing kitchen parties and getting together to play golf. Why does it rub us the wrong way? Because building relationships is important in business. Maybe you didn’t even realize you were doing it because you were always someone who took the time to get to know others.
At your next networking event, when it’s time to introduce yourself, say something that makes people see you, hear you, and understand you. Initial attention is not the same as a connection. If you’ve taken the time to understand who your ideal client is, then there are things that you can do to connect with them authentically.
Here are five tips to use at your next networking event:
Create a hook statement or share an interesting fact that your ideal client can relate to. Start your introduction with a comment that grabs their attention fast simply because they understand.
2. Build Trust
Don’t rhyme off all of the features of your business at once. People don’t buy into these tactics, especially at virtual events. You haven’t earned anyone’s trust yet.
If the moderator introduces an interesting topic to discuss in the breakout sessions, do try and stick to it. People get to truly know you when you share your values, your views, and your insights.
If you have the chance to help someone by answering a question or brainstorming an idea, give it your 100%. These are the conversations that build trust and become memorable to those you are chatting with.
Network up. If there is someone in the room you would like to collaborate with, help them; if there is someone you’d love to chat with because they are influencers, reach out to them. Don’t spam their DMs though, send them a kind message, explain your interest in speaking with them and ask if they would be willing to connect (always ask permission). Remember, in this instance, it is up to you to give, not take.
If you are a client-centric business owner, I welcome you to follow my networking community on IG @gettingrealonline If you’d like to join our next networking event please send me a message for more information.
In The Smart Selling Masterclass, a program for entrepreneurs who want to get to the root of how to connect with what their ideal client needs, I take these five steps and expand on them in one of the lessons so that you are ready to put them into practice in the real world.
If this resonates with you, I welcome you to reach out. Let’s book a call and see what the next steps are for your business.