Do you attend networking events with the expectation that you will leave with new business? I hope not, because the event is simply step two. You should have a plan developed that will take you from step one all the way through to the bank. Networking is like any other marketing strategy that you may use to drive prospects to your pipeline. For the strategy to work you must have a system to follow that will allow you to measure your results and improve as you find opportunities.
No, I did not make a typo when I stated the event is step two. Step one is preparing your dialogue for the event. That dialogue begins with a great introduction of yourself and your business. Your intro must help the prospect immediately identify how they or someone they know could benefit from doing business with you. You must also be prepared with conversation generators (statements and questions) that you would be comfortable saying to the new people you approach at meetings and events. Prepare and practice in advance. There is an acronym that can help you with this: F.O.R.D. create your questions about their Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. Build your conversation starters around these areas of their lives and you will have them talking in no time. Which by the way is your objective, you must learn as much as you can about them. This is not the time to blah, blah, blah about your business.
Step two is attending the event. Pretend you are the host at the event and these are your guests. That intention will help you to remain focused on learning about your guests. Remembering as much as possible from each conversation will pay off tenfold when you follow up. When appropriate make notes for yourself.
Step three is following through with what I call a “Quick Six”. If you touch people six times within a two week period they will remember you. Being remembered is a big benefit for your business. What is a quick six? It is part of your system. Here is an example of how the six touches may go.
1. They met you at the event.
2. The next day they receive an email: I enjoyed meeting you.
3. Two days later they receive a quick note with some piece of information that is relevant to your conversation with them. (Demonstrate you were listening)
4. Day 5 you call and schedule a time to meet. Coffee, lunch or even to share your presentation if they had previously expressed an interest.
5. Sometime during week two you meet. Ask how you can support them in their business. And this is the appropriate time to ask for their business or for an opportunity to do a presentation.
6. Send a thank you for meeting with you.
Step three is actually step three – seven. If you follow a system similar to this you will capture more business from your networking events.
Step eight is adding them to your follow up system. Remember NO is only not today. Statistically most sales take 10 to 12 touches and we have only completed seven. A great follow up system will result in a higher percentage of closed sales.
The bottom-line do not go to networking events expecting to walk away with new business. You must earn that business. Put a system in place to give yourself a higher percentage of return on investment of time.