Networking - “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” - Oxford Dictionary
Most people probably view a networking event as an opportunity to get that next good lead. If they don’t walk away from the event with that hot lead, they may regard it as being unsuccessful - without even realizing some of the other “wins” and benefits they received from being there. Let’s reframe these thoughts and look at a networking event as a form of personal growth and business development. While gaining new leads is a definite reason to network, it is really only one small piece. There is so much more to be gained from networking events other than just a new lead! In general, every networking event you attend provides you with new opportunities, a means to gather advice and ideas, and an increased visibility of you and your brand.
Let’s dig in on what we mean!
Networking can provide us with a variety of opportunities that can help strengthen our business. First and foremost, meeting new people always provides new avenues for referrals. The more people you meet, connect with, and build a rapport with, the higher your chances of people referring you within their network.
In addition, networking can provide you with a pool of potential new hires down the road. As you get to know other individuals, who may or may not be in your industry, and build relationships with them, it provides you the opportunity to get to know people that you connect with. You never know when these new “connections” might just turn out to be or introduce you to that next perfect new hire.
Networking also provides opportunities to collaborate with other businesses. Whether it be through hosting a webinar, event, or even on social media, teaming up with other businesses that share your same values or who compliment yours, can open the door for all sorts of exciting opportunities.
And finally, networking provides opportunities to learn about, attend, or even speak at events that you might otherwise not know about. In talking to people at networking events, you could be the first to learn about an exciting event coming up that is beneficial to your business or even be invited to attend one. And, you just never know when someone you meet invites you to speak at an upcoming event they are hosting. Your experience and background could be just what they need!
Advice & Ideas:
In speaking with individuals at networking events, you might learn about new trends that can affect your business. Even if the individuals you meet are not in your industry, there is always something that can be learned from them that you can apply to your business or your personal life. Be open to learning something new or gaining a new perspective. You might hear about a new tool, app, or product that you can use to solve a problem that you’ve been experiencing. And, at the very least, you never know when you might receive guidance from someone that can change the trajectory of your business.
Every time you attend an event, you are building community and putting a face with your brand. You are building trust and recognition from others. People will begin to know your business simply by getting to know you. And people will always do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Now that you are looking at networking events in a whole new light, let’s get you prepared to attend your next networking event. Here are some Reverie tips for success:
Is there an agenda for the event? If so, review it before coming so you know exactly what to expect at the event. For example, if you know you will be sitting down for a meal, you may want to have a few fun topics planned that you can talk about at the table if there is a lull in the conversation. Will there be a speaker? Do some research about the speaker to learn a little bit about him or her and their background. This could be a fabulous conversation starter. Finally, have a few bullets prepared about yourself, your company, what your company does, or even about who your ideal client is. Preparing these points ahead of time allows you to be more prepared and confident when speaking about your background and your business.
Attend these events with the intention to listen, learn, and give back. Make the purpose of being there less about transactions and more about gaining knowledge, sharing ideas, and helping other people. Focus on building relationships and not sales. This approach will pay off in the long run!
Be prepared to have an ask when you meet and connect with people. What are some examples of asks? You could ask someone for information on a topic you want to learn more about or even guidance on an area in your business you are struggling with. If your company is having an upcoming event or workshop, you could ask/invite them to attend the event. Perhaps you are attending an upcoming event or workshop that could be beneficial to the individual, tell them about the event and ask them to join you. Or, you could simply ask them to follow your business on social media.
Alternatively, be prepared to give something of value to the individuals you speak with, such as a follow on social media, a post on your business or personal social media accounts about their business or an event they are coordinating, a coupon, free giveaway or promotion, or even ask them who their ideal client is. This way, when you meet people who fit their ideal client profile, you could connect the two of them.
Bring a Friend
There is always strength in numbers. Bringing a friend can just be the confidence booster you need. However, it is important to remember to not cling to that individual or only hang out with familiar faces. The whole point in attending is to meet new people - you never know who you might be able to collaborate with, help out, or learn from if you are only mingling with your pals. Walk in with your friend, perhaps walk up to a few new faces together, and once you feel confident enough that you can work the room on your own, do just that!
With these tips in hand, you are all set to crush your next networking event! The only thing you have left to do is attend one!