Digital marketing is fast becoming business’ go-to for generating leads and brand awareness, through avenues such as the company website, social media, emails and online advertisements. Not everything has to be done online, though, and there are still plenty of opportunities for marketing your business and getting your name out there in more traditional ways, such as business networking.
Since more and more business communications are taking place online, meeting someone and talking to them face-to-face can be a novel experience. A face-to-face meeting is often a more memorable and genuine one that will get your voice heard and your message remembered. Business networking is not just about taking an hour off work to drink some coffee and have a chat; it’s a valuable opportunity to grow your business that you should be taking advantage of, and a skill you should learn to master.
Here are 5 steps to get you networking like a pro and bringing more leads into your business.
Find the right networks
The first step is to determine which networking events you want to attend. Some will suit you better than others, so try out as many as you want before settling on the ones you want to join. Some networks will require you to pay for membership, so make sure it’s the right fit before committing to it.
Take frequency of meetings into consideration as well. Some groups meet weekly whereas others meet monthly or quarterly, so take this into consideration when deciding which ones to join. Also pay attention to the types of people who attend and how many people are at the events.
Attending the events on a regular basis will help you to meet lots of new people, and also to build strong relationships with the other regular members of the group. Don’t commit to joining too many groups or you’ll find yourself with not enough time to maintain your attendance at them all. It’s better to focus on one or two groups that you know will bring you quality leads rather than spreading yourself too thin.
Networking is all about meeting new people. Some people might not feel comfortable doing this, but it will get easier the more you attend. Try to talk to as many people as you can within the time of the meeting, especially new people that are visiting. Don’t make it your mission to talk to every person in the room, though. Try to strike a balance so that you talk to a good number of people, but the conversations you have are valuable, rather than introducing yourself and then quickly rushing off to the next person.
If you’ve had a conversation with someone and found that there’s some way you can help each other out, make sure you live up to your promises. Make sure you live up to your word if you’ve said you’ll call them the next day or send them some information by email. If you forget, then they’re likely to forget as well, and nothing will come out of your exchange. Either that, or they’ll be waiting for you to follow up and will think that you’re unreliable for not doing so, discouraging them from working with you. Write down notes during or straight after the event to remind yourself.
It’s not just the people in the room that are potential leads, but also everyone that they know. Referrals are a powerful way of generating leads at little to no cost, so encouraging them is important. Simply building relationships with people and showing them that you’re trustworthy is a good start, but actively giving referrals to other people in your network will also encourage them to return the favor in order to maintain the relationship.
Business networking, when done properly, is a great way of making connections in your industry or the area you work in. Doing this can help you and your business become more successful. Like they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know.