In a world where social distancing and self-isolation are the norm, networking has taken on a whole new meaning. In order to make the most of your networking opportunities, both online and in person, it is important to be prepared. Here are some tips on how to network effectively in a post pandemic world.
Just get out there, do it, and do it often.
Your boss thinks it's important:
Your colleagues see it work everyday:
Networking is more important than ever in today’s economy
It’s no longer enough to just attend industry events or go to happy hours; you need to be creative about how you network in order to make the most of your opportunities.
Networking can be a great way to build relationships with people who can help you advance your career. However, it’s important to prepare for your networking opportunities in order to make the most of them. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your next networking opportunity:
1. Do your research.
Before attending an in-person event or connecting with someone online, make sure you do your research.
This includes learning about the person you’re meeting or the company they work for. Knowing who's coming to the event will help you to prepare engaging questions and avoid meaningless small-talk.
Once you've identified the company you'd like to learn more about, go to their website and find the About Page. Look for stories of the companies beginnings, recent awards, or other news worthy events to talk about. It's also a good idea to consider the company Values if they have them listed. Memorize them and research how your two companies share in these values.
2. Come prepared.
Always come prepared to networking events. This includes having a business card, practicing your answer to common questions, and knowing exactly what you want to achieve from the event.
Pro tip: Your goal from a networking event should NEVER be, "To get more sales." nor "To get leads." Leads and Sales will come through building relationships. An example of a good goal might be, "to better understand the challenges faced by Bob Smith, the CMO of Acme Facilitation Inc."
3. Dress appropriately.
This may seem like a no-brainer but it's important. When attending an in-person networking event, dress appropriately. This means wearing clothes that are professional but can still express who you are as a person.
Remember you're attending the event to forge and cultivate relationships. If you want to get close to the C-Suite then you'll want to wear clothes that are both true to yourself and appropriately appealing to c-level employees of your industry.
4. Be yourself.
One of the most important things about networking is being yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not; instead, focus on building relationships with people who share your interests and values.
This means that you should be having conversations around interests, hobbies, and your values as a person and professional. Remember that research you conducted before going to the event? Find ways to be authentic to your values.
Making a good first impression at networking events is essential for success as you connect with potential employers, colleagues, or business partners.
Here are some tips on how to make a great first impression at your next networking event:
1. Arrive on time.
One of the worst things you can do is show up late to a networking event. Not only will you miss out on valuable opportunities, but you’ll also come across as unprofessional.
2. Dress appropriately.
As mentioned earlier, dressing appropriately is crucial for making a good first impression. While you don't need to wear a suit and tie if your network is more laid back, you'll want to make sure you’re wearing clothes that are professional yet still reflect your personality.
3. Shake hands firmly.
When meeting someone for the first time, always shake their hand firmly and make eye contact. This shows that you’re interested in what they have to say and that you’re confident in yourself.
4. Strategically Introduce yourself.
Make sure you take the time to introduce yourself to as many people at the event that you can without sacrificing the chance for a real connection with the person you came to meet. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to say hello to every person at the event.
Quality over Quantity!
5. Be interested in others.
One of the best things you can do when networking is to be interested in others. Ask them about their job, their hobbies, and their interests. This will help you to build rapport and connections with potential employers or business partners.
6. Deliver a memorable 30 second pitch.
Many people may not have the time to meet you at the event. However if the event allows for you to make a public 30 second introduction or pitch, this is your chance to shine. Find an entertaining way to express who you are, who you matter to, and how you can be contacted for a 1 on 1 conversation.
One of the best things about networking is that it provides opportunities to build relationships with others in your industry. You can meet someone in a generic networking environment and then you can go to an industry specific event with someone you know.
1. Attend industry events.
Attending industry events is a great way to meet others in your industry. Not only will you have the opportunity to network with others, but you’ll also be able to learn more about what’s happening in your industry.
2. Join relevant online forums and groups.
Joining online forums and groups is another great way to meet others in your industry. These groups often have discussions about current trends in the industry, so you’ll be able to learn a lot from others who are active in the group.
3. Follow relevant hashtags on social media.
Following relevant hashtags on social media is another great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry. This will allow you to see what topics are being talked about, as well as connect with others who are interested in the same things that you are.
Building relationships requires that you interact with each other as often as it seem appropriate. It’s important to stay connected with the people you’ve met through networking so that you can continue to build on like minded values and to add value to one another's lives.
Here are some tips on how to stay connected with people you’ve met through networking:
1. Follow them on social media.
Following someone on social media is a great way to stay connected with them. This will allow you to see what they’re up to, as well as connect with them on a more personal level.
2. Send them a message.
If you want to stay connected with someone, sending them a message is a great way to do it. This will allow you to keep in touch with them and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives.
If you want to send someone a message but aren't sure if you had a mutual interest in staying in touch, it's a good idea to add something of value to the message. A link to an industry related article or perhaps something fun that you talked about in person.
This may also be a great time to ask them more about their ideal customer. Let them know you are on their side and would like to help them find the perfect leads. If you add enough value to their life, in turn they will begin to add value to yours. If you would like to learn more on how to make this conversation mutually beneficial, read our blog How to Make the Most of Your Current Network For Business Leads.
3. Invite them to free Virtual Events
When you come across a valuable webinar or virtual event, and you think it will truly add value, invite your new connections! If they can't come, perhaps you can offer to send them the recording or to keep a lookout for their perfect prospect.
DO NOT TRY AND SELL THEM SOMETHING!!
This is not the appropriate time to sell to someone within your network. If you're tempted to ask for a sell here, then we suggest you read up on modern sales methodologies and follow a proven structure to sell. Read our post "What is the Best Sales Methodology for the Modern Sales Professional?" for more insights on how to do that.
Ok, I'm done yelling. 😉
4. Invite them for coffee or lunch.
You may think this is cliche, but inviting someone for coffee or lunch is still a great way to stay connected. Whether it's coffee or a few margaritas, you'll want to use this time to continue to talk about interests, industry wide pain points, and values.
Remember, this is about building a relationship rather than farming a lead.
Use online tools to help with your networking efforts
You won't be surprised as to how LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are valuable to staying connected. As a sales professional, you also know the challenges they cause. All of the messages, feed posts, ads, reels, and more it's a challenge to stand out from the crowd.
First let's talk about the social platforms and then we'll introduce a surprising addition to your online tools that will really take your networking game up a notch.
Collaborate. Sell more, and close fast.
Did you know that the average salesperson only contacts a prospect once after the initial meeting? And that it takes an average of 5 attempts to reach a prospect?
Successful sales professionals know that it takes a lot of follow-ups to be remembered. But what many don't know is that following up quickly after the initial meeting is key to reaching them.
The average brain forgets about 90% of new information in just one week! Each day that passes, a huge amount of information get's lost due to the amount of new incoming information.
Chances are, if you're not following up with new connections quickly after your initial meeting, you're losing out on the opportunity to be remembered.
Networking is essential for sales professionals. In order to be successful, it's important to prepare for networking opportunities by doing your research and knowing what you want to get out of the meeting. First impressions are key, so make sure you're dressed and acting professionally. It's also important to build industry relationships in order to create mutually beneficial business partnerships. Tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can help with this, but don't forget about Alliance- a platform specifically designed for sales professionals that allows you to keep all of your top relationships in one place. Finally, follow up quickly after the initial meeting in order to stay fresh in the person's mind!