I attend at least two or three networking events per week. At these events people often ask me how they can become more successful at networking.
What people always focus on though, is what they should do at the business networking event. It strikes me that they think that there is some magic formula that if you say this or do that whilst you’re at the event, that business will magically flow to you.
Now don’t get me wrong. I work with my clients and attendees at The Networking Retreat to hugely increase their confidence and effectiveness at the event. Getting better at the 40 or 60 second round is a vital part of everything I do with my clients.
But it isn’t THE most important thing. For me, the most important part of networking happens outside the event. The most important part of networking is, in my opinion, the follow up, the cementing and strengthening of the relationship, the process whereby you turn some of your contacts into prospects and some of those prospects into sales.
I’m not stalking you, promise, but let me tell you what happened to you the last time you left a networking event.
You had a couple of missed calls. You had a text you had to deal with. You had an email with a new order, or a query from a client. You had to get to your next meeting and had to look up the address to put into your SatNav.
That 121 you had with a prospective supplier is suddenly less important in your life than it was an hour ago. That brilliant service, that you just knew would be brilliant for your business, suddenly seems less vital now you’ve realised you’re going to be ten minutes late for your next appointment.
People tell me that they never follow up with people because “I’ve told them what I do, if they need me, they’ll come back to me, I don’t want to hassle them”.
But everyone in the world is as busy as you. Everyone has got a next appointment to get to, or a missed call to concentrate on. And people, with the best will in the world, will forget about you, unless you don’t allow them to.
If you’re in business for yourself, it is your job to remind people that you exist, and not their job to remember you.
Following up, continuing the conversation, is so important in networking and yet it is the bit that most people don’t do.
The other thing that I find is that people get disheartened. They meet someone who seemed really interested in their product or service, and then just never hear from them again. That person then doesn’t call them back. That person just got a call which distracted them, or got caught up in other stuff, or just with life. They didn’t mean not to call you back, they just didn’t at first, and then maybe either forgot, or even got embarrassed as they had left it too long.
So I want you to consider spending time following up after networking events.
If you do this, I promise your results will improve. There are people waiting to hear back from you who you have never called. And there are people who may well be interested in your service, you just haven’t made it easy enough for them to buy from you.
If you follow up with people, honestly, what is the worst that can happen?
I talk about this a lot. There are, in my mind, two types of follow up which are equally as important.
The first one is Active Follow Up. This is where someone has expressed an active interest in your product or service. This is so important because often we tell people we will give them a call and never do it.
The second one is Passive Follow Up. This is for everyone else. All those people we meet at networking events who aren’t immediately interested in our service, but might be at some point in the future. In my opinion, this is where the real opportunity is and where most people lose out.
So, in order to follow up successfully, and start making more sales, you’re going to need to get a couple of things sorted.
Firstly, get some time booked out in your diary specifically to follow up. If you’re busy, then you will need to make time for it, otherwise, with respect, it simply won’t happen.
Secondly, get a system in place. I use a CRM piece of software to help me track my new contacts and prospects. You might choose to use a simple paper system. But work out how to get those business cards into some sort of system. I use SalesRadar along with their excellent business card scanning app on my ‘phone – so my contacts are added to my CRM whilst I’m driving home from the networking event. You can get a 7 day trial of SalesRadar using my code 7DAYTRIALS.
Basically, once I leave a networking meeting, I scan the business cards of the people who I have met into my CRM and then plan a follow up activity, whether that is a call, an Email, or nothing.
And then, it’s time to make that call. And we will talk about that tomorrow.
If you want to work directly with me, and massively improve your results from networking, you can choose to come to The Networking Retreat, or work one to one with me over twelve weeks. If you want to work out which is best for you, just get in touch.