How to win at networking

  • 09 Nov 2020

We were delighted to recently welcome Business Coach Andreas Nest to deliver a virtual business support session on ‘How to win at networking’.

Here are Andreas’ three top tips for getting the most out of virtual networking…

Ever wondered why a lot of business owners do not like networking? For the people who do attend networking events surely their objective is to promote their businesses, build trust amongst its members and create connections for future sales opportunities. If that’s the objective then why do most people not get what they want out of networking?

 

Let’s take a close look at the 3 most common mistakes when it comes to getting the best out of networking and how to overcome them to ultimately get the results you want.

Mistake No 1 - Lack of preparation

This is a big one and I see this happening at almost every event. Let’s take this example from last week when I attended a virtual networking event where one of the fellow networkers offered sales training solutions for corporate clients. Now, on the call there wasn’t a single corporate prospect, only Solopreneurs, so why on earth would anyone offer corporate sales training to Solopreneurs? It’s simple, it’s down to lack of research and preparation.

Here is how to fix it. The next time you attend a networking event make sure you do your research beforehand. Ask yourself, is my target market actually attending this event? Can I get a list of all attendees from the organisers before the meeting commences? Who do I want to connect with during the event and what’s my real objective?

 

Come prepared, dress for the occasion and when attending a virtual event make sure your lighting, microphone and camera settings are perfect, so people can see and hear you well. Nothing is more frustrating than looking up somebodies nostrils because their camera is too low. If your surroundings are not representative then use a virtual background and make sure that your company logo is on show.

Mistake No 2 - Lack of networking

This is another good one, don’t sell at networking events. No really, I mean it, don’t do it. It’s similar to proposing marriage on your first date. Your chances of success are extremely low, because guess what, everybody comes along to sell something, just like you are. So be different and try to help as many people as you can sell their stuff. Help them and open up your network to them, connecting them with the right people. That way the law of reciprocation kicks in and after a while people will ask about what you do and start buying from you, no selling from your side needed.

After all, remember to follow the simple model of Know, Like and Trust. We don’t buy from people we don’t trust, so your job at networking is to take it slow and let them get to know and like you first. Your fellow networkers will appreciate this and eventually trust you enough to share their needs with you.

Mistake No 3 - Lack of follow-up

This is where it all falls down, well most of the time. You’ve had a great conversation, the other networker got really excited about what you do and then what? You made a note somewhere and then forgot about it. Or they promised to get in touch as soon as and you keep waiting for their call. The call that will never come and you get very disappointed. Sounds familiar?

 

If you want to win at networking try a pro-active approach instead. Start by getting yourself a good CRM tool (Customer Relationship Management). Enter all your great networking prospects and then follow up by connecting on LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever other social media channels your prospects are using. Remember that enthusiasm has a half-life, so once connected, you don’t wait for their call. You phone, or send your new connection an email to arrange a virtual coffee / tea and if they reject at least stay in touch with a newsletter.

After all, the brutal truth about networking is that most people won’t bother to put the effort in to make networking really work for them. They show up to events with an open wallet and expect instant sales, only to end up being massively disappointed when networking doesn’t work for them.

Networking is a brilliant marketing strategy, be the one that makes and effort and get the results you want.