Do you remember your last face-to-face networking event? Are you still in contact with anyone you met there?
Just one event can take up to 3-4 hours of your day or days at a time when you attend a conference. Calculate your rate for that time. Did you make sure you got a return on that investment?
If the answer is no because you didn’t follow up, it’s time to rev up your networking mojo. If you want to become a masterful strategic networker, you have to be the one that makes it happen and that means taking a proactive approach.
Many business owners take a haphazard approach to networking and wonder why it doesn’t pay off. The next time you attend a network event, get your networking mojo back by using these tips:
1. Be Strategic
Effective networking is about relationships. The networking events you may need to attend may not be convenient.
Determine the strategic relationships that would move your business to the next level. Find out where these people connect. This might involve a little online research to identify summits or forums that require an investment in time and travel.
2. Be the Masterful Connector
When you attend an event, ditch the elevator speech. Instead, be real. Focus on the other person by asking questions about:
• What’s important in their life
• What are their interests or goals
• Who is an ideal connection
If appropriate, set up the meeting between them and their ideal connection. You might be surprised how connected you are simply by looking at your LinkedIn connections.
3. Seize the Moment to Shine
When you’re asked by your new networking acquaintence that common phrase, “If I can ever help you, please let me know” seize the moment!
Have an idea on what you need, like:
• An introduction with a decision maker at a company where there would be mutual benefit to collaborating
• A supplier to help you bring a product to market
• A panel speaker for an upcoming nonprofit event you’re planning
When they see that you have a specific answer, it shows that you are prepared to conduct business. It also instills confidence that you are a seasoned business owner.
A strategic approach to networking creates long-lasting relationships. Over time, you’ll develop referral partnerships by design not by luck. These collaborations will help you create a referral system that does the work for you helping you grow a profitable business.