We ran a very successful webinar in April, entitled “Finding Customers by Networking” (which you can watch again here!)
There were a lot of questions coming out of that webinar, so in an attempt to give those who are interested some additional advice – we thought we’d write this article as a companion to the webinar.
In the first part of our article, we looked at why business networking works for helping you grow your business, and where to look to find business networking events close to you.
In our second part we then looked at what you should do to make sure you’re prepared for a business networking meeting to ensure you get the best results from it, and how to make the most of the event itself.
In our final part, we’ll look at what to do after the event, and how to use Social Networking.
So you’ve met some people, you’ve exchanged business cards – now what? The simple mistake most people make is to not follow-up with their new contacts! They bring a pile of business cards back to the office, get consumed by day-to-day work, and those cards gather dust on their desk.
Instead, schedule time in your diary within 48 hours of the event to follow-up with people. This time is important, and it is time well spent – otherwise your time at the business networking event is just spent collecting business cards.
During the scheduled time, input those business cards you’ve collected into Microsoft Outlook (or your other trusted source of information). Once those business cards are in Outlook, they are easily exported to your CRM system or other places the information can be used effectively.
Remember all those notes you scribbled down on the business cards? Now is the time they are most valuable, as they’ll serve as memory hooks for you about the people you met. You may have met a dozen people, but if you spoke to one about her Daughter’s Ballet Lessons, another about his favourite Sports team, and another about their thoughts on Travel – you’ll quickly job your memory as to who that person was.
Likewise, use these notes when following up with people. Most follow-up’s are typically by e-mail, but if you had some strong common ground then a telephone call may be more appropriate. Those notes will make useful reminders for the people you’re following up with of who you are, and what you talked about – use them in your conversation.
Don’t be afraid to connect with those individuals on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is perfect for learning more about one another, and nearly everyone within business now uses it.
If you come across somebody who isn’t using LinkedIn, as an IT specialist, why not offer to help them get setup?
Finally, be the connector. Actively look for opportunities to introduce your new contact to other people you know, where both parties would benefit from that introduction. This is a simple and effective way of making sure you put the other person first, and immediately start to show them you’re a valuable contact to have.
If you’re interested in more techniques about making the most of business cards you collect, the blog article entitled “Collecting Business Cards” may be of interest.
In our article, we’ve focused on Business Networking events – but where does Social Networking fit in to your networking strategy?
The rules and etiquette for Social Networking are very similar to Business Networking.
Do Not Sell! We are all bombarded with advertising messages in the modern age, so why would anyone actively choose to listen to your Social Networking messages if they are selling your product or service?
Instead, use Social Networking to educate people to your thoughts and ideas. Simply put, offer Value to those who seek out your Social Networking message, not just noise.
Remember that social networking is a two-way conversation. Be prepared to engage with people, rather than just shouting! With that in mind, be aware that Social Networking is not a numbers game. It’s all about quality connections, rather than the quantity of connections. Think about Business Networking events. Would you prefer to meet 3 people you had good conversations with and shared a lot in common? Or 12 people you said hello to, but learnt nothing about? Social Networking is no different – it’s not about “Friend Collecting”.
When connecting with people via sites like LinkedIn, remember to personalise your introduction. Don’t use the boiler-plate default that LinkedIn and other sites provide – instead tailor a short message that conveys to the other person WHY you should be connecting!
If you’re interested in learning more on Social Networking etiquette, you may find the blog article “Thanks for your Friend Request, but who are you?” of interest.
Social Networking should ideally be part of a balanced and linked-up approach towards your networking activities as a whole. This mix would include Business Networking events, face to face meetings, telephone calls, e-mails and social networking. If you exclude any one of those components, especially Social networking, you’re missing an opportunity.
If you’d like to learn more, have a listen to our webinar "Effectively Using Social Networking to Grow Your IT Support Business", where take a deeper dive into the tools and techniques that you can use as part of your Social Networking strategy.
We hope you’ve found this three-part article to be useful, and remember – if you have any follow-up questions then feel free to e-mail me directly, visit my blog at www.tubblog.co.uk or start the conversation with fellow GFI Max Users on our LinkedIn forum!