If I'm invited to attend another time-sapping, soul-crushing networking event, I might just slam my forehead into the obligatory coffee urn.
Check out these metrics...
The average networking event has about 60 people in attendance. It runs for about two hours. That means, if you want to connect with all 60 people, that affords you two minutes per person.
Most people manage to connect with about five people. And they rarely seem to be the 'right' people.
It takes half an hour to get there... then another 30 minutes to find a parking space... then there's the commute home.
Not really efficient is it?
But... if you do want to CRUSH your next networking event... try one of these three tactics... that you're simply gonna LURVE...
1. Create a calling card...
This tactic is AWESOMESAUCE!
My friend John Englezos used this tactic to close almost a year's worth of business (he almost filled his books for a year) in under 60 minutes, at a networking event.
Business cards and networking go hand in glove, right? They’re like peas and carrots. Peaches and cream. Mork and Mindy.
You can’t have one without the other? Or can you?
Yet, more and more established business operators (CEOs and senior decision makers) are opting to ditch the business card.
Young networkers are doing the same.
The inference here is that cards are for ambulance chasers, desperadoes and powerless members of middle-management.
The other implied statement goes something like this...
“If you are unable to connect with me through other means (such as shared contacts and social media), you don’t deserve to connect with me.” (Totally harsh, right!)
The absence of a card, in the right circumstances, has the power to immediately position the cardless renegade as ‘the prize’ by forcing new contacts to do a little ‘work’ to secure the contact.
Alternatively, if executed poorly, it can make the empty-handed recalcitrant appear obnoxious and even amateurish or unprofessional, at best.
So, how do you strike the right balance?
Rather than offering a business card, offer a 'calling card' instead.
And what’s a calling card? It’s something that provides your new contact with a reason to call on you and it provides your new contact with a tool to refer you to their contacts.
This is your opportunity to position you as 'the prize'.
My business card features nothing other than a logo and URL. And the automated follow up sequence (like John's) is designed to build relationships and educate, while I do other things.
(John and I will be explaining how this tactic can be used to shortcut customer acquisition, avoid time-wasters, build trust and close deals, at an upcoming FREE webinar we're hosting: http://notsofreakyuniversity.com/webinar)
2. Offer the speaker food...
Often the only person worth meeting at a networking event is the guest speaker. (It's sad but sometimes very, very true.)
But this person is always popular. And, when the ‘show’ is over, this ‘star of the moment’ will usually find themselves surrounded by a throng of well-wishers, toting broad smiles, questions with agendas and, of course, wads of business cards.
I know what this feels like, having spent time on both sides of this weird and unbalanced situational relationship, as a ‘speaker in demand’ and ‘desperate throng member’.
Yet, have you ever heard about the principle of influence called Reciprocity?
Put simply, if you give someone an unsolicited gift of any perceived value, they will feel a pressing desire to give you something, of slightly greater value, in return.
It’s one of those principles of human nature that has allowed humankind to prosper. (It even exists in other parts of the animal kingdom, including and beyond our fellow primates.)
Having watched how others have grabbed my attention (and then tested these same techniques on others later), I’ve found that the surest way to win the attention of the most popular person in the room is to offer them a glass of water, or a cup of tea, or a beer, or a can of coke. It doesn’t matter!
Do like your mamma taught you... and feed them!
If the speaker is not prematurely dragged away (or a sociopath), he or she is likely to track you down after the questions have subsided to ask you (yes, you) what you thought of the event.
This is another way to position you as 'the prize'.
(If you appreciate common-sense advice and could benefit from business development tactics that work, please seriously consider attending our upcoming webinar, LEADS RELOADED: http://notsofreakyuniversity.com/webinar)
3. Seek partners and not clients...
No-one likes to be sold to (or 'at').
But everyone appreciates a new business opportunity.
It's actually flattering to receive a business proposition, rather than a pitch. It suggests that you know your shizz.
While it might be hard to find and connect with prospects at networking events, it's not so hard to find other people from other industries or your own who share a similar agenda and a similar target audience.
They are there to build their network too!
That's right. Why pitch to one prospect at a time, when your efforts could be better spent securing a 'marketing alliance'.
Here's a saying worth remembering...
"The middle class compete. The world-class collaborate."
(But what are the best ways to harness the power of a marketing alliance? That's something that John and I will be sharing at our upcoming webinar together, LEADS RELOADED: http://notsofreakyuniversity.com/webinar)
If you are just OVER networking events, and if lead acquisition and business development is still am essential part of your business, have a think about this...
Imagine for a moment that your business, or even your livelihood, depends on securing 10 new clients or customers a month.
And, if you don’t secure these 10... well... let’s just say that’s bad.
Now let’s also assume that your organisation has only 10 quality leads in the pipeline -- actually let’s say that your efforts have secured 10 pre-qualified prospects, people who have shown interest in what you do or what you have to offer. Let’s even assume that they are desperately keen.
They are hot leads.
Now, you need to secure 10 new clients, right? And you have 10 hot pre-qualified prospects.
That’s got to be a good scenario, right?
But, how many of your hot pre-qualified prospects are you really likely to convert? Realistically?
Well, I think you know the answer.
No matter how good your sales patter is, your product or service, you simply ain’t gonna close 10 out of 10. One prospect will suddenly go on holiday, another will quit, a third will be promoted or moved into another department.
(If you can consistently convert every lead into a prospect and every prospect into a customer, I want to hire you. Come work for me. But if you’re that gifted, I can only assume that you’re a billionaire by now.)
The truth is, no person or organisation is that gifted.
However, what if you had 1,000 leads, or 100 enthusiastic prospects to deal with?
Would you then be more likely to secure the minimum 10 clients you need, in our hypothetical (but all too real) scenario?
Any form of marketing is a numbers game.
Leads always must come before sales. Then, it’s your job to build trust, educate, create rapport and demonstrate why your product and service is better than the alternatives.
These are fundamentals of business and unlikely to change any time soon.
However, the old ways of achieving these outcomes (like endless coffee catch ups) are fast becoming obsolete.
Here's the good news...
The tools at your disposal to achieve these outcomes -- to connect with strangers, to convert them to suspects, then prospects, then customers -- are constantly changing.
And, the really good news is that they are getting better, cheaper and easier to use.
Founder, Anthill Magazine
Co-Founder, Not-So-Freaky University