Mar 11, 2020
Create & follow a business networking framework to increase efficiency and maximize your return after every networking opportunity.
I know how much effort networking takes. We need to increase your efficiency and maximize your returns. At the end of this video, I'm going to tell you the one biggest mistake professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs make so you don't!
So what type of networking are we talking about anyway? We're talking about traditional networking. Association meetings, open houses, essentially any special event where you have the opportunity to interact with other professionals in your industry. So why should we be networking anyway? In large part, people network to grow business. They also do it for professional development or brand recognition. But the biggest reason why we should all be networking is you're building a resource for anything and everything you may need in the future.
So with all those wonderful benefits, why wouldn't we be networking? The one that I hear the most is time and energy constraints, but also, for some people, the idea of being in a networking environment is intimidating. And lastly, like we've talked about already, if you're not feeling like you're getting a return, why would you dedicate all that time and energy to networking? If some of these pain points sound familiar to you, it means you're not networking to the best of your ability. Let's network smarter not harder.
The best thing you can do in order to increase efficiency and maximize return, is create a networking workflow. Don't show up day of and expect to get great returns, you've got to put the work in upfront. Here's what that looks like. If you're attending an association event, those are usually larger and hosted by bigger organizations. Familiarize yourself with the association! Check out their website, look at their upcoming events and their goals for the year. Familiarize yourself with their board of directors. If the registration list is public, you can look and see maybe there's a professional that's going to be attending you wanted to meet and get to know anyway. And lastly, if you're one of those people where networking environments creates anxiety or is intimidating to you, consider bringing a friend.
Now, if it's an open house, these are usually smaller events hosted by companies or individuals. Consider reaching out after you RSVP. Ask the host if there is something you can do to help ensure that their events is a success. If it's open to the industry, share it on your social media. One of the scariest things we do is host an event in and fear that there's not going to be enough people in attendance. And then lastly, after the event, send them a thank you note, an actual thank you note for inviting you and telling them that you hope their event was a huge success. So let's talk about some networking pitfalls. If you're one of those people that's anxious or intimidated in networking environments and you've brought someone with you, or if you see people that you know there resist the urge to talk to them all night long, it's definitely not the best way to get a return on the networking opportunity. You want to meet new people and when you meet those new people, keep in mind you want to focus on them, ask them questions about their business, how they're doing and how you can support them. Essentially what I'm telling you to do is ditch the elevator pitch it's disingenuous and I just don't think people want to hear them anymore.
So earlier I promised you that I would tell you the one biggest mistake that professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs make when it comes to networking and that is they think that the networking opportunity ends at the end of the event. In truth, the biggest networking opportunity starts when that event is over. At the end of every networking event, I take all the contacts I've just made and I separate them into three categories: lead & referral sources, professional partners and connection opportunities. For the lead and referral sources, I immediately follow up with them and I try to set up another meeting, a one-on-one where we can get to know each other better. For the professional partners, I send them a note and tell them how wonderful it was to meet them and I look forward to working with them soon. For the connection opportunities, and this is a big one, it means that we may not have an opportunity to work together directly, but I hope that I can connect them to somebody that can either provide them a service or be their client. Okay, so there you have it. If you follow this workflow & adhere to this process, you're going to have to put up just a little bit of work upfront in order to maximize your return on every single networking event you attend. Effectively, every person you meet will have a place in your network because you never know when you're going to be able to help someone & when they might be able to help you.