We all know networking events are important, but prioritising them during the working day can be tricky. That’s because they don’t always deliver value, or align with their expectations, meaning you’re left regretting dedicating the best part of a whole day going to the event.
However, with the right preparation and having a strategy focused on strict targets and goals, we believe you can schedule your next event and guarantee that you’ll walk away with the value to grow your business.
Here are our steps to getting the most out of a networking event.
Find the right event
A good starting point is to find the right networking event for you. Do you want to meet new clients? New introducers? Maybe specialist brokers in the Buy to Let market or perhaps you want to know more about getting into the Help To Buy market?
Do your research
Look up who is going to be there and make a note of who you want to make contact with. Which recent social media posts can you refer to (to start a conversation) and which business achievements, trends and news could you keep in mind to make connections with people?
Don't forget to check the competition: are they going to the same events, or are they elsewhere, or have they stopped going to the one you're planning to go to?
Be clear about your goals
Start by thinking about the end. What do you want out of the day? It’s one thing to go to an event with 1,000 business cards to hand out; it’s a different thing to plan to have made 3 to 5 firm new contacts by introducing them to your business, what you have to offer and how you can each collaborate.
Having realistic goals focused on getting value from a networking event will help you craft a decent elevator pitch. Remember that building your network works two ways: as well as being introduced to new contacts, remember to do some introducing yourself.
Have a structured follow-up plan before you go
The networking event doesn’t stop when you leave. You may want to consider following everybody you engaged with on social media with a personal message, thanking them for meeting you on the day and laying the groundwork for a future collaboration. You could also add them to your customer relationship (CRM) drip email campaign, send them a physical card or even text them.
Whichever you choose, the aim is to establish an ongoing dialogue that leads to generating more business.
Network online too!
Networking in physical locations can be fun and highly productive, but you’re relying on scheduled dates throughout the year and hoping the traffic doesn’t grind to a halt on the day you plan to attend an event. The internet, however, offers countless opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals looking to engage and build their network.
Join online communities through LinkedIn; these will be business-focused and allow you to share ideas. Joining local communities on Facebook will also give your business exposure to prospective clients.
Being active online means that when you do physically attend an event, you have that digital presence to connect ‘virtually’ with the communities you meet. If you aren’t able to attend an event, being involved online means you can still join in by posting questions and connecting with people you are interested in.
Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to force yourself to be more confident and outgoing than you usually are, or quieter and more reserved if you feel that puts people off. At the end of the day, being authentic and enjoying the day will deliver results as long as you stick to your plan and are passionate about your business.
Remember to reflect on the value you got from attending each event: was it worth the time and cost? Would you go again or perhaps send another member of your team? We hope these tips work for you: for more tips on growing your business, don’t forget to visit our Growth Series.
*Disclaimer: Accord Mortgages does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services within the Growth Series as such mention of these, cannot be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.