Whether you’re networking in person or virtually, you want to ensure you are getting the most out of your networking efforts.
As the founder of Virtual Networkers (a worldwide virtual networking organization for female entrepreneurs), I am often asked: Jill, how I can maximize my Virtual Networkers membership?
It’s a great question! Part of getting louder is to increase your visibility, and networking can be an effective visibility tactic. It’s important, though, to not take networking half-heartedly. If you do, you won’t get the results you need.
In this week’s marketing lesson, I share with you five tips to getting the most out of networking. Even implementing one of these tips will improve your experience!
To increase your visibility in front of your ideal clients and referral partners, networking is a must for many entrepreneurs. You don’t even need to leave your house to network nowadays, so even for the most introverted entrepreneur, networking should be part of your marketing plan.
The key to networking is to “attack” it from all angles. Here’s what I mean:
Have a compelling 30-second introduction
If I had a nickel for every time I heard an entrepreneur fumble her way through a 30-second introduction, I could retire to the mountains! This is your 30 seconds to shine, but so often women entrepreneurs talk about the weather or other trite subjects, and don’t have a prepared elevator speech. Don’t be this person!
Attend your networking meeting consistently
Your networking organization relies upon its members to show up at every meeting. You know what? Your marketing does too.
If you join a networking group, attend every meeting. Of course, if you’re sick or on holiday, take the time off. We all need to replenish!
Don’t blow off your meeting because you don’t feel like attending or booked over it. You won’t get clients or referral partners unless you’re a fixture at your networking meeting.
Hand in hand, and if time allows, be sure to attend other meetings within your organization. This is a great way to meet more people!
Host coffee dates
You can only accomplish so much in a networking meeting. Most meetings have a full agenda, and you don’t get a chance to have a deeper conversation with your colleague. This is especially true if you are networking virtually because you can’t have those “side conversations.”
That’s where coffee dates come in. You can host a coffee date virtually or in-person. It’s a great way to learn more about your networking colleague so you can refer business to her – and vice versa. Be sure to check out this blog post if you need more tips to successful coffee dates.
Get on the speaking calendar
If your networking group hosts speakers, get on the calendar right away, and plan to speak twice a year.
Speaking increases your know/like/trust factor. As your networking colleagues get to know you, they can refer your ideal clients to you. In my Virtual Networkers chapter, I see this all the time. Someone presents, and BAM! She gets referrals. It works like magic!
Follow up with your networking peers
Just like you should follow up with people on your sales prospect list, following up with your networking peers is equally important, especially in these circumstances:
- After a coffee date
- After your presentation to the group
- After someone has expressed an interest in your services
- After someone visits your chapter
Your marketing assignments:
- Write 2-3 different 30-second introductions. Make sure to practice them before presenting at your next meeting. Ask for feedback from the group.
- Make sure all of your meetings are on your calendar and commit to not booking over them.
- Make a list of networking colleagues that you’d like to meet over a coffee date. Then start reaching out!
- Consult with your chapter president or speaker committee chair to ask about presenting to your group. If possible, ask for two spots over the next 12 months.