How can you ensure that the investment you make in attending business networking events brings you the results you are hoping for? Its all too easy to register, turn up, eat the breakfasts, stay talking to the one friendly person you met when you first walked into the room, and then to breathe a sigh of relief when it all comes to an end 2 hours later.
This article deals with the nitty gritty of how to make sure you are remembered after networking meetings
1. Always take a business card with you – how else will they be able to contact you afterwards?
I really believe that the business card is the easiest and most efficient way to make sure that someone you meet can keep in touch with you. It is small, fits in a pocket or bag and is easy to carry. It contains the essential information needed to keep in touch: your phone number, email address, web address. Smart business people even make sure that their business card acts as a sales tool by reminding the recipient what business you are in and the services you provide.
2. Have other literature to hand to help you showcase your business
How else are you going to show how wonderful your business is? Conversation is a starting point for getting to know someone and learning about their business. It is hugely impactful if you can also see something that illustrates what they are all about. Maybe a colourful postcard, a small brochure or leaflet. These can be produced very cost-effectively and many entrepreneurs who I work with have great things to say about some of the online design & print companies.
3. Always ask for other people’s business cards – it shows you are interested in them.
So, its going really well at the networking meeting. Conversation is flowing. Maybe you have even passed over some lovely literature to showcase your wonderful products and services. Then they ask for your card. You proudly hand over your newly printed glossy business card. Shake their hand and promise to keep in touch. Cringe! !!! This is a reciprocal relationship! You must now ask them for their card out of courtesy. It shows that you are an equitable networker and interested in others as well as yourself. No-one likes the ‘me me me’ approach. Make sure you ask for their card in case you are able to refer work to them, or need to keep in touch for another reason. Business is about relationships!
4. Write things on the back to help you remember who they were & what they are selling.
You’ve followed my advice and taken the cards of everyone you meet. A few weeks later you find them at the bottom of a bag or pocket. Now you are struggling to remember who was who and what you discussed with each person. Follow up is very difficult if you can’t remember what you were going to follow-up on! So, the top tip for helping you to remember when & where you met someone, what you discussed and with whom, is to jot some notes on the back of the card as soon as you can after the event. Or even at the event! It doesn’t matter – just do it!
5. Follow up on every business card you take with a short email or phone call – it shows you are serious about building relationships.
Being great at follow up will stand you apart from your hundreds of competitors. People are notoriously bad at follow-up and I think it stems from being worried that you might be appearing too pushy. The opportunity here is to really make sure you build this relationship so that it is well-formed when the time comes that you need each other in the future. You never know when you might need their services, or they might need yours. We all know hundreds of people both personally and professionally who will need services and products themselves. But if you haven’t followed up and maintained the relationship, then someone else may be waiting in the wings to take that piece of work.
The next 5 tips deal with how to mix with strangers at networking events. Yikes! It doesn’t have to be scary I promise.