What’s your networking game plan?

OK! So, you were either invited or you happen to come across an event where you think you may find a couple of people that you can network with and build your database. So what’s the plan?

I know you don’t plan on just showing up and hopefully talking to the right person, do you? I believe that the reason many entrepreneurs, business owners, sales professionals or anything in between miss the boat. It is more than just adding the event to your calendar and or putting extra business cards in your purse or wallet. It is about being strategic in how you present yourself and how you actually engage with the people in the room.

You have to know the audience! Do research about this business event prior to attending.

I mean, you got to do some recon and I understand what going to be up against before you show up. You want to make sure you have the right tools also known as the right pitch for the crowd. You want to know if there will be an open area, assigned seating, 30-second introductions, and any other scenario. Prepare.

You must know who’s going to be in the room. Let’s just say for example that the rooms will be filled with accountants. You should already know a little bit about their pain points so that when you have an opportunity to meet an accountant at the event, you can speak to what they do, what they endure, and how you may potentially have a solution. Now bear in mind, that your first introduction may not lead you to the “Yes! We’re going to do business” right away. Nonetheless, you should have an idea of what key information you want to gain before you leave. Sometimes, that information is a simple commitment to follow up. Did I say how monumental this is in building rapport and moving along a potential customer?

Now, what are your top one, two, and three top goals? You and your time are important. You must know what your goals are! Let me give you a few examples to get you started. Let’s stay in the same vein and let’s say we are going to an event filled with accountants. The company I consult for has a software that I believe is going to make processing time of invoices shorter. Bear with me, I have no accountant! My goals will possibly be to find out, what software they are using now, what they like about that software, and if there’s anything that that particular software company could change that would make it even more efficient. Now, let’s say that you believe your client has the answer! It just so happens that one of the solutions that she suggested or he suggested, is exactly what your client’s company does. You need to not walk away with just a business card and them nonchalantly agreeing for you to follow up. If you accept that, then you’ve already lost. Because when they get back to their offices, behind their desk and piles of work, it may be next to impossible to get them to answer some emails solicitations and or phone calls. My suggestions is that once you find that you have the solution, the next step would be to thank them for their time, feedback and that you would like to follow up. Actually, I want you to ask permission to call them at a specific day and time like Wednesday at 10 AM. Get them to commit to the follow up. You need to get them to accept and acknowledge that you intend to follow up. Because if you don’t, you have now wasted not only their time but your time as well. In that case, you might as well say you were just freelancing and not actually trying to get business.

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