In our latest episode we go over the importance of networking and 5 rules to help you more effectively network.
Hi welcome to Smart Marketing, I’m Stephen Cohen with AlphaGraphics West Valley and today, wanted to talk about the 5 rules of networking. Now before we discuss the rules we want to about why we network. Networking is a favorite tool of most small business owners. There’s a couple of reasons for this. The first reason is we are social creatures. When you run a small business there is usually yourself and maybe a couple of other people and being able to go out and network gives you an opportunity to meet with other likeminded small business owners. It’s a really good way for us to go recharge and use that energy to continue to drive our business. Two, it helps get our name out in the community. Most small businesses belong and go to networking events, so you build a community of small business owners around networking. If you’ve done networking for some time you’ll see that you run in to familiar faces at different networking events. Those are people that are working on getting their name out in the community and building a strong brand for their small business. The third is that we do business with people we like. That’s still reality today, even with the internet and with the lack of personalization in a lot of marketing and sales nowadays. But we do business with people that we like so the easiest way to connect with someone is over drinks in a social setting to develop a relationship before we discuss business.
So that’s why we network but there is a couple other reasons why a person will go to a networking event, more personal reasons. The first one is we want to develop real connections or real relationships with people and the easiest way to do that is typically over drinks. Small business owners will go to a networking event because there are other small business owners there so you run in to like minded people and it’s a very good place for you to make friends who kind of understand your viewpoint and what you are doing with your career and with your life. The second one is that we want to be heard. Often times we are in a sales position where we can’t say everything we want to say or we’re working in a small business where we don’t get to interface and communicate and talk with people as much as we typically would in a social setting. So when we go to a networking event we want other people to hear us and to listen to us.
This brings us to the five rules of networking. The first rule is you always want to have a game plan. Based on how long it’s going to take and the amount of people that are going to the networking event you want to understand how long you want to be there, how many people you want to meet, even how many drinks you plan on having. The second rule is you want to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Like I mentioned we are social creatures and most of us go to a networking event because we want to be heard, we want to tell our story. So for you, your goal is to hear people’s stories. When you are planning on going to a networking event you want to have a list of good questions that you can ask someone that will allow them to talk with you and that brings us to point three. You want to focus on that person. No one likes when someone asks them a question and then spends the next three minutes looking around the room trying to figure out the next person to talk to. That makes it so you don’t come off as genuine. Again, we are trying to build relationships so you want to ask smart questions that allow someone to talk and then you want to focus on that person so that person understands that you’re listening to them. That you care about them and are genuinely interested in what they have to say. The fourth thing is that you only want to handle what you can follow up on. That means you don’t want to go to a networking event and pass out 50 cards and get 50 cards from people. You can’t follow up in a timely manner and develop relationships that way. A really good plan is you probably can meet someone new about every 15-20 minutes. So based on the amount of time you want to be there, let’s say you want to be there an hour, shoot for 3-5 connections that you can make with people that you will follow up on later. The fifth rule is the follow up. So how you put people in to your sales funnel after a meeting or sorry after a networking event. This usually takes place the next day or the following morning if you are going to an evening event or the afternoon if you’ve gone to a breakfast. This is where, based on the relationships that you are starting, you’re deciding how hot of a client is as a sales funnel. You might meet some people that you want to stay in touch with that aren’t going to be doing business with you now or maybe never and you want to have a plan for how you’re going to connect with those people and stay in touch to people who may have an immediate need for your services and you want to talk a little bit more about business. That’s the sales opportunity and the follow up process. Every card you get, what are you going to do with them to continue to develop the relationship. For really high value prospects it may be doing coffee. For someone who maybe isn’t going to be doing business with you it might just be linking in on LinkedIn and staying in touch occasionally and maybe meeting at other networking events.
That was 5 rules to networking. Thank you for watching Smart Marketing.