There are numerous ways of marketing, but one of the most exciting and most rewarding is through networking. Whenever attending an event, imagine meeting at least one person who has the potential of generating an abundance of extraordinary business. With this in mind enter the room on a mission to meet or receive a business card from everyone there in an attempt to locate this person. Here are eleven techniques to make this opportunity less challenging and more rewarding.
1. Determine exactly where you will network to reap the biggest benefit for your time and money. There is nothing worse than networking to a group of people who are not a match for your product or services. To determine where to find your target market, it is first necessary to define in detail your ideal customer. Once you have done this it will be easier for you to determine WHERE to find them.
2. Dress professionally for the event. If you are in doubt as to the most suitable attire for the location or the event, simply contact the host and ask. A good option is to dress conservatively and if undecided, dress “up” rather than “down”. Logo shirts may or may not be suitable.
3. Arrive at the location early and “walk” the room. Take ownership mentally of your surroundings then place yourself close to the registration table so you will have an opportunity to meet and shake hands with everyone who enters. It is far easier to greet people as they arrive than to single someone out or join a group already involved in a conversation.
4. Prepare your own name badge in advance and be wearing it when you arrive. Print your name in a large font that is easy to read and then slip into one of the plastic holders that either attaches with a pin or clip. If your budget allows, you can have one engraved. Always keep this with you so you can use it at other events as well.
5. Use the stick-on nametag to write something catchy or humorous and then place it just below your personally made badge. This actually draws attention as people pass by and their curiosity often will generate a great conversation.
6. Eat either before going or after you leave. Remember your purpose is to meet people and develop business relationships, NOT satisfy your hunger. There is nothing worse than trying to balance a plate of food, eat without spilling it and always wondering if you have food lodged between your teeth. You will always need one hand free for handshakes and receiving and passing business cards.
7. Whether you are uncomfortable initiating a conversation or not, break the ice by asking the people you meet at least five good questions about themselves or their business. Remember, they begin to like us when our interest is about them. This is the smart start for building strong professional relationships.
8. When approaching others, it is easier to walk up to a group of three or more people and gradually enter in the conversation. When you walk up to only two people, you risk interrupting a conversation already in progress.
9. Ask permission to give someone your business card before automatically giving it and assuming they want it. This gives more value to your card when they agree to accept it. Ask for their card before they have an opportunity to give it to you. A tip is to keep your business cards (and a pen to write notes) in your right pocket and the cards you receive in your left pocket. This way you will be less likely to pass out someone else's card thinking it is yours.
10. Make brief comments on the backside of the business cards you collect. Others are generally impressed that you are taking notes. This will also jog your memory when you follow-up with them. Make it a point to always learn something unique about them or their business. Always write on the front of the card the date (including the year) and the type or location of the function.
11. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. After the event is over, read through all of the cards you have collected and determine which ones (or maybe all) warrant your time in following up. At the very least send an email, post card or handwritten short note thanking them for sharing their time with you and your desire to remain in contact with them in the future. For the leads with the most potential for future business, call the following day to schedule follow-up meetings.
Martha Lanier, CEO of Ignite Your Potential, Inc., is a professional speaker and business/life coach with programs on leadership, personal develolpment and sales/marketing. Contact her at 770-803-0020 email [email protected] or visit www.marthalanier.com
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