I decided to explore networking in further detail and talk a little bit about the problems I have experienced. Now networking is a very valuable tool to any business and the ability to sell yourself face-to-face to potential customers can build strong relationships that lead to orders or potential recommendation of your products or services.
But from my experience of attending networking events as a Lead Creators’ employee and in previous employment roles, I experienced a number of obstacles with networking as a whole.
The first obstacle I came across was that events hosted by a networking company their goal is obvious; they would like you to become a member and pay a yearly / monthly fee to attend exclusive events. But obviously it is always important to attend a few events to ensure they are relevant for your business, especially if your target customers are hard to come by. I also always ask the question to the hosts prior to attending, “so who’s attending the event in my target sector?” but I found I was never given a definitive answer from any of the networking companies I dealt with and an attendees list was only normally only available on the day.
The second negative I found with networking events was what I call “the networking click”. Now for me networking is strictly business; it’s not a social event whereby I would attend to drink vast amounts of alcohol and mingle with the woman with the best legs and really let myself go. I am attending the event on behalf of my employer or in your instance you may be representing your own business, so I would ensure at all times I represented my employer as best I could. Due to my professional approach I found that some networking events where not right for me I was not looking for an event where the same people attend week after week to meet socially. Instead I was looking for events that my target customers would attend and every time I attended I had the opportunity to meet new and interesting people with a view of meeting people who had a need for our products or services either now or in the future.
So how can we overcome these obstacles to ensure networking is used to meet potential customers?
Plan your networking calendar well in advance
Research all events you feel are relevant for you and your business
Ask the host of the event plenty of questions:
o Who’s attending the event in my target sector?
o How many businesses will be there?
o What type of event is it? I.e. sit down lunch, breakfast, mingle, or speed networking
o Will there be guest speakers?
o What is the topic of discussion?
Set up meetings in advance via email, or call to ensure you do not miss the opportunity to meet with a potential customer
Dress accordingly and make the most of all potential opportunities at the event – and don’t forget your business cards!
If you require further information on Lead Creators’ Networking Support service please feel free to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org.