The Real Secret to Successful Networking
Over the last several months, I’ve been putting huge emphasis on networking, and what it can do for your business. Many people will agree that networking with the right people is essential to building a growing business. However, I’m still surprised at the amount of people who don’t put effort towards outreach, and this is slowing down their growth. The ones who pay close attention to networking are not doing it the right way which again is a huge waste of time. With that said, I want to discuss some awesome networking strategies which I’ve learned over the years.
Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with some of the top industry leaders, and this has been a great contributor to my success. I believe networking or outreach is something you should definitely do when starting out in business, or if you’ve been around for several years. Let’s get started, and look at ways which networking can help you excel in business.
Personally the MOST important aspect of networking is getting to know people, and letting them know you exist within your niche. Attending events is a great way to build your profile because it’s where until today industry leaders meetup to talk business. Events have been around even when social media, and other online networks came into existence so they still play a crucial role today. In short, if there are huge industry events taking place within your city or country, then I’ll make it a point to attend. Your letting people know you exist, and what you do through networking. It’s also important to note that many top players will get invited to attend so you can build a portfolio of the type of people you should get to know. Next,
Since the growth of social media many bloggers have been creating profiles which have helped them build an identity online. I would encourage all of you to build a FB, twitter and LinkedIn profile. Recruiters are turning to LinkedIn to find people with the qualifications they are looking for, and this same method can be used to network with others in your niche.
Home Work # 1
Start by researching events taking place within your area which you can attend. I would focus on the big ones where you know the top people in your field of business will be attending. Next, if you haven’t yet, I would focus on creating social profiles which reflect your business, and so others can learn about your experience.
Connecting with People
After creating profiles, and attending some events, I’m hoping you have narrowed it down to a handful of people you would like to network with. These people should fit the following criteria:
- Years of experience
- What people they know
- How you can contact them
- What they might find appealing or enticing
Go through the list you creating, and find ways to contact them which will be through email or even phone call. If they are really close by I’ll visit them, but it might be a better idea to let them first know you’re coming by. Look at it this way, since you did your research, and know they are major players in your niche, you can now reach out to only the best. Don’t tire yourself out by having to contact 50 people at one time, but start with 2-3 a day, and see what type of progress you make. Next,
It’s important you have a spread sheet of all the people you have contacted so you can do the next step (follow-up) seamlessly. I’ll go into more detail on follow-ups later, but in the meantime make sure you write down the following information:
- Name – keep track of the person you contacted so you can reference them during your follow-up.
- Contact method – You’ll know how to follow-up with them in the future, and will easily be able to find the correct contact information.
- The date you initially contacted them so you can see the time period which has passed.
- The next follow-up date which I think should be within a week time period.
- The company
- The niche
Home Work #2
It’s time to start your outreach so start doing about 2-3 per day. It’s time for you to create an excel spread sheet so you can keep an eye on your contacts. This is a great way to organize your follow-ups.
Follow-Up & Setup Meetings
Once you have your list ready, and have made the first initial contact, then it’s time to wait for a reply. Some people will reply right away with either a No, Yes or asking you to contact them after a specific time period. Use your spreadsheet to mark all this information down so you can quickly go through making the right adjustments. The ones who are willing to meet you should be prioritized with dates, and places. I believe if you can arrange a meeting with them right away, the better chance of you securing some sort of deal, networking or even future pitch on a product.
Remember, a meeting is your best result so you should be prepared before going in because a negative impression means you’ve just lost a huge chance to make an impact. Next, if you haven’t heard back from some of the people you contacted, then give it about 6-7 days before running another quick follow-up call or email. Remember to mark this on your list going forward.
Home Work #3
Setup your meetings, and prepare for the confirmed dates. Go through the list of people you haven’t heard back from, and run another quick message. When going keep these things in mind for your meeting:
- It’s time to impress
- Show them your best work
- Know your pitch inside out
- Get a list of questions ready
- Make sure whatever your presenting you know because this is your opportunity to impress
Show Them Your Work
It’s always a good idea to show off especially when you have value to provide. People are looking for new opportunities only when they are worth it, and this is why I encourage you to have your best work with you. When you are heading to the meeting, it’s a good idea to do some more research on the person so you can find out what type of content, or pitch will excite them. I believe this is your one opportunity to shine so make sure you put on your best show. How can you figure out what work to bring with you? Simple.
First, do your research by visiting their product or site looking for a trend in the content or products they sell. Secondly, look through your portfolio looking for similar work, but it’s important that it stands out, and provides value. For example, no point in bringing work which is mediocre because this won’t create a buzz with them. If you bring low quality work, then going forward they will be reluctant about getting into a business relationship with you.
If you can’t find anything in your portfolio, you can always start a project to create something before your meeting. Use your research, and do the following:
Research – create a plan of the type of keywords, and text you will be focusing on going forward. Have a handful of targeted keywords so you can scatter them through the page.
Add Value – In the end it’s all about adding value because low quality content doesn’t sell anymore. Providing value is what will distinguish yourself from the rest of the people. If you the person your meeting can see this, then you’ll have an easier time getting a contract with them.
Ask Questions – If you’re unsure about the direction you want to go in, then ask the person your meeting. Many of them do get impressed because it shows initiative. This leads into my final point…
Pitch Some Ideas
During your meeting, you’ll be talking about various different things, however it’s important not to forget your main purpose. For example, you arrange this meeting for a reason so make sure you get to the point before you leave. However, so you stay on point, it’s a good idea to have a handful of solid content ideas, or even product ideas when you enter the room. This will save you both time, and show you know what your purpose is WITHOUT sounding unsure or confused.
Here’s how I pitch some of the idea’s I’ve had over the years:
Email – sometimes I’ll send them an email with my idea before getting to the meetings so we can discuss further after. Many of them will ask for a complete breakdown through email before you arrive.
Presentation – One of the oldest ways to present an idea, however takes enormous time to put together. Depending on the type of pitch, you might have to put something like this together before the meeting. The good news is the person will tell you before the meeting what they expect. In a presentation, do the following:
- Present pitch
- Other expenses
- Overall bottom line
These are the things which matter when presenting a pitch.
Written Plan – A long way to present information, but might be required so the person can look at things on their own. This will take time to put together, and has to include the following:
- Business plan
- Business model
In the end, the more effort you put to show value, the better your chances to secure a solid pitch deal.
I hope you enjoyed my article on being able to network the right way so you benefit going forward. It’s all about getting to the right places, and meeting the right people. After, contact them to set something up, and pitch them one of your awesome ideas which can lead to some serious business. Go through each point, and start incorporating it into your business marketing plan going forward. I’m sure you can leverage the information I discussed here to start meeting the right people one-on-one, and pitching an idea to grow your business. Get started now.