Networking is a major offline buzzword when it comes to marketing. If you were to do an online search of networking events in your area, you could probably find at least one a day and probably one in the morning, one at lunch and another in the evening!
With so many choices, how do you decide which events are going to be the most beneficial? I see people going to events all of the time and sometimes I wonder if they are doing any work at all! Here are a few strategies to consider if networking is one of your marketing strategies:
- Plan your events – Sure there are plenty of events to attend, but not all events are appropriate for your business. You’ll find free events and those that have a fee. Some free events can be good, and some paid ones are not so good. Since there doesn’t seem to be a formula for success, your best strategy is to find the events where you’ll find your target audience. Most events have a coordinator who can give you an idea of the types of participants who have registered.
- Follow your passion – Not sure which events to attend? A good place to start is by following your passion. Perhaps an event for your favorite charity, a meeting with people that share an interest in a special hobby, or a group that is made up of your target market. When you attend events where people share a similar interest, you’ll have a better time connecting with others and the experience will be more beneficial.
- Set goals – When you attend a networking event, it is essential to have some goals that you want to accomplish. For example, perhaps you want to meet two strategic partners, or maybe you want to meet 5 prospects, or maybe you want to meet someone who will attend another networking event with you. ***By setting goals you’ll feel or strategic partners get contacted, but the cards for those that don’t seem to be a fit usually end up in the drawer to ‘get to eventually’. When you schedule time for follow up, you’ll see greater results from the time you spent networking.
- Dress professionally – Yes, your appearance does make a difference. If you look like you just came from a workout or your outfit looks like it should be worn to a night club, you might not get the results you are seeking. People want to do business with people they ‘know, like and trust’. They might talk to you if you don’t look professional, but it will take awhile for them to take you seriously if you aren’t dressed the part.
Networking can be a great way to grow your business and to meet people who can refer you to potential customers. Don’t attend an event with the idea of selling people on the spot…..save the pitch for another conversation.