Often at networking meetings, I am asked what a networking newbie who has begun networking to market their business should do next. I believe that networking is one of the best ways to market any business. You get the opportunity to personally showcase yourself and your ability to explain your business to a large audience, some of whom you would never have met. What do you do next after you have made that decision and attended your first networking meeting?
The next step that everyone should take after that first networking meeting is to reflect back on the notes that you took during the meeting, or shortly thereafter, and review what took place. How did you present yourself; how did others present themselves? Who impressed you the most; who did not impress you at all? What can you do to improve your own presentation of yourself and your business; what can you do to be someone with whom others want to connect and form networking partnerships?
At the same time you must do something about the information that you collected at the meeting. All the information from those business cards that you collected must be entered into some system so you can utilize it at a later time. Your contact file is one of your company’s most valuable assets. However, if you misuse it, or ignore it, it is worthless and you wasted your time at the meeting. You must nurture your contact list and allow it to grow, rewarding yourself with many clients, prospects, and referrals. Some people use computer software to maintain their contacts, others use manual card files. Use whatever works for you, but use something. This is an opportunity where you should work smarter, not harder.
Hopefully, before you ever attended your first networking meeting, you established a contact management system of your own. It should contain everyone that you know. This includes your friends, neighbors, family, classmates, everyone. Then everyone that you meet from that point on is just added to the system. Classify each person as you chose, perhaps by their business potential, and notice that people may fall into multiple classes. You must maintain, and update, this file every day. Again, it is your most valuable asset.
Each time you attend a networking meeting, and add to this file, you should have a procedure for following up with the people that you meet. Perhaps you send them an email reminding them when and where you met them, perhaps a card. Then call them and follow up, asking to meet for an individual chat to get to know them better. You are not trying to sell to them; you are just sowing seeds of knowledge and establishing a relationship. People do business with, and refer business to others that they know, like, and trust. This is a multiple step process. No one can trust anyone who they met for 2-3 minutes at a networking meeting, without meeting them again for a detailed conversation and exploring their philosophy and business theories.
Once you have met them individually, follow up again, and thank them for meeting, with a card or an email. Use Appreciation Marketing to build on the relationship that you have started. Can you send them referrals, do you want to establish a client relationship, or do you never want to see them again?
What you do after a networking meet? Let us know here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Remember that the longest journey begins with a single step. Make that step meaningful and sincere.