Have you attended networking events but left feeling disappointed because you don’t think that you’re getting anything out of them to help you grow your business? In this episode of Small Biz TV, I discuss some simple yet powerful ways to maximize your networking experiences to benefit your company.
When you hear that a networking event is being offered by your local Chamber of Commerce, what’s your reaction? You may hear about vendor fairs, community days and other local networking events and know that you’re supposed to go to them, get a booth and talk up your company, but something holds you back.
You may tell yourself that you don’t have the time to be away from your business, but the real reason why you may skip networking events is because you don’t feel that you get anything out of them. You’ve heard that people should get business out of networking events, but you’ve always left empty-handed.
There’s one important thing to realize: You’re not going to get any business at the events themselves. And no business comes your way automatically simply because you’ve gone to a networking event.
Whether or not you get any business depends on what you do after the event is over. It’s your responsibility to follow through on connections that you made to make things happen.
The best type of relationship to find at a networking event is something called a Power Partner. You want to find a company with a product or service that’s synergistic to yours – a company that goes after the same target customer that yours does without competing with you.
For example, a real estate agent and a mortgage broker both target clients who want to buy new homes. A wedding planner and a photographer both target clients who are planning to get married. If you’re at a networking event and meet someone whose business attracts the same types of customers as yours, figure out how you can work together and become Power Partners.
Book a Meeting From a Meeting
When you meet a potential Power Partner, don’t give that person your business card and waiting for him to get in touch. This is a fatal mistake that many people make at networking events.
Despite his best intentions, the person who has your business card in his pocket may never call you. He may lose your card when he pulls out his car keys in the parking lot. He may put your card on his desk, then lose it under a pile of papers. He may mean to call you, but if he’s as busy as you are, he may never get around to it in a timely fashion.
To get business from a connection you make at a networking event, book a meeting from a meeting: Schedule a one-on-one meeting while you’re still at your networking event. I’ve been practicing this for years. It’s so simple and very effective.
Use Your Calendar
When you meet someone who may be a Power Partner, pull out your cell phone and check your calendar.
Say to the person: “It was nice meeting you. I’ve got your card. Here’s my card. I may not remember to call you right away when I get back to the office, and I like to use my calendar to be as productive as possible. What are you doing on Tuesday morning at 8:30? Would you meet me for a cup of coffee at the Golden Bell Diner on Route 9?”
He’ll pull out his phone, check his calendar and set up the meeting with you. Or, if he doesn’t have his datebook, you can send him an e-mail with a calendar invite, which is very easy for him to respond to when he gets back to the office. You’ve scheduled a meeting with a potential business partner before you’ve even left the networking event.
One day, the person from a networking event could become a Power Partner. Reaching that point is a long, detailed process, but it’s worth its weight in gold. There are limitless opportunities to work together in pursuit of the same customers. You can build a partnership, offer combined packages and more. It’s possible to double your business just by having one Power Partner. It’s that effective.
If you need help finding Power Partners or getting more business from networking events, we can help. We’re small business coaches, and we can help you Blow Away The Competition!