Seven ways to spring-clean your networking strategy
Spring’s nearly arrived and the events season is starting to get into full swing.
Now’s the time to dust down your game plan, rethink your approach, take the plunge and get the most from every minute of networking…
#1 Don’t rush in with the pitch
It might seem odd, given that there’s often so little time allocated to a meeting, but try to resist the temptation to go in straight away with your elevator pitch.
Many people follow the same process at each meeting, opening up their laptops, starting their PowerPoint presentation or talking through PDFs, but in my view, this is a mistake.
People have been told for years they need to go in with their polished pitch, but I think this is a common mistake.
Don't be afraid NOT to talk about your product straight away. If the person you’re meeting doesn’t know you, then they won’t buy from you, no matter how wonderful your product is.
#2 Open up
The only way to gain trust among a potential business connection is by opening up and not being afraid to reveal the real you.
Your passion is what will sell your product. It’s not a PDF, document or
presentation – of course, that is important, but that comes in at stage two or three.
Once the person you’re meeting is on board, you can talk in detail but don't do that until you have explained your passion. Tell them what you do and who you are.
#3 Get to know them
Don’t be too busy revealing all about yourself that you forget to ask about them too!
Find out what keeps them awake at night and how you can help them sort that problem with the client.
They need to know you and you need to earn their trust, so step into their shoes; look at it from where they are coming from, and see how best your product can fit in.
So, don’t be afraid. Be open. Ask lots of questions.
#4 Do your homework
Take time ahead of the event to study your audience.
Few shows share the attendee list until close to the event, but once it’s been revealed, study it and adapt your offering to meet individual requirements. For example, do they specialise in groups or upmarket luxury?
Don’t dismiss those who are not a perfect fit. Instead, try to discover more.
What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to people that we don’t know.
For example, they could be the chair of a board. Find out how else you could work together.
Open up the iceberg.
#5 Accept the social invite
If there’s an offer to take part in an experience at the event, then grab it, as this is part of the event that I call the ‘cherry on the cake’.
See it as a unique icebreaking opportunity that will mean future business connections will remember you standing out among everyone else.
Too many people think that they are there on business, not there to enjoy themselves.
But it’s good to make friends in your industry and have fun. We thrive from human
interaction and it’s important for our mental well-being.
Laughter increases the endorphins that are released by your brain and soothes tension.
So: Take the experience, have fun and who knows where it will take your business.
This idea forms the basis of Journeys’ proven FAM-MEET® approach to running events.
#6 You’re networking, NOT office working
Don’t be one of those people who wastes valuable networking opportunities by cutting off from the event and checking in with the office every time they get a chance.
Unless absolutely necessary, DON’T check emails or make office phone calls – it’s a waste of your investment at the show, both in terms of money and time.
Never disregard networking time – it’s the perfect opportunity to further develop that relationship and dig deeper into the iceberg.
So, my number-six rule is: commit 100% to the event and leave the emails until later.
#7 Read the room
No meeting on one particular day will be the same, simply because everyone is different and we are all in different spaces. So, the next rule is: be adaptable.
You never know what frame of mind the person you’re meeting will be in. Maybe they have had a thrilling day and want to share their success and excitement with you.
Maybe they’ve had an awful day – missed their train or have a family problem.
Read the other person, see where they are at and adapt to it.
Don’t be afraid to ask how they are.
It's a tricky business. In fact, it's more like psychology. Those who are able to read the other person really do make the best salespeople.
Ciao for now and see you soon!
Micaela and the Journeys team