This afternoon I’ll be speaking at the Marketing Business Summit in Milan, Italy. This is a big deal for me, it is the first time I am speaking professionally outside the UK, and the organisers have rewarded me with an audience of over 500. I’ll be talking about business networking, of course, and I hope to give the delegates some real hints and tips that they can use as soon as they leave the event.
There is so much value over the next couple of days here, with expert speakers brought in from all over Europe. There are some people here who I really respect in the worlds of SEO, content marketing, PR, and other disciplines, and there are plenty of speakers who I’ve never heard before and am really looking forward.
On top of that, there are over 500 delegates from all over Europe, all of whom are there to network and learn.
The real value though, at any event, not just the Marketing Business Summit, comes in what you do after the event, and the real opportunity is that most people won’t bother.
Firstly, taking notes based on what each speakers says is great. Some people will take really detailed notes, some people might even use mind maps and drawings. But most people go back to their offices after the event and do absolutely nothing differently. Revisit your notes over the weekend and make some actual plans to put some of them into action straight away. So many people find their detailed notes week or months after the event, by which time they have forgotten why that note was important, and can’t remember what they meant to do about it. Make the most of your investment and put some of the advice into action. You’ll be amongst the few who do, and it will move your business forward.
Secondly, and here is the real value to me. Make sure that you connect with, and keep in touch with, each and every person you meet here. That means spending time connecting on LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram or wherever that contact exists and then putting in the effort to keep the relationship alive.
Every big opportunity starts with a little conversation and during the event you have so much opportunity to start lots of small conversations. But it is your responsibility to keep that conversation going after the event.
That doesn’t mean messaging everyone you met inviting them to buy from you. It means making the time to be genuinely interested in them, engaging with them, and becoming part of their network. That might not happen immediately, but imagine if you expand your network by just twenty people over the next couple of days. You could come away with twenty business cards and never do anything with them. Or you could put in the effort to keep in touch, so that twenty new people now know you, and come to like and trust you over time.
Those people could become clients, or suppliers, trusted contacts or friends.
But none of this will happen if you do nothing. What most people do is put the responsibility to keep the conversation alive on the other guy, forgetting that they are as busy as you. Take the responsibility yourself, be the one who grabs the advantage and starts building these relationships before anyone else does, and in the future, come back and let me know what that relationship turned into.
Have a great day, I’ll see you at the #mbsummit at 3pm!
Stefan Thomas is a keynote speaker and author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking, and Win the Room.