Networking is at the heart of any successful sales endeavor. Real networking entails focusing on interactivity, building connections, and adding a splash of fun rather than simply meeting up new people and sharing your contact information.
Here’re some of the best practices to follow as we head into the event season:
1. Be specific about your role in the event – You sure are the marketing guy who’ll be there to get more leads under your belt but will you be there full-time? Will you also be clicking pictures for your website’s media section? Will you be required to take out time for networking local prospects besides the potential leads you intend to meet at the event? If so, has it all been planned in advance? Have your logistics been sorted?
A strategic SMART plan should be in place whenever you are going to attend an event. Pre-decide the role of each and every team member whether its handling social media, updating news section, posting pics round the clock and so on, and what precisely you intend to achieve in quantitative terms. Also, plan and create material you wish to distribute during the event. Finally, sort out the sessions you’ll be attending and decide how exactly you’ll use your spare time. Besides, stay updated with the latest in the industry.
2. Stay on top of things – Constantly monitor relevant breaking news related to your industry via tools like TweetDeck and remain prepared to weave your conversation around it during the event. It offers you a good jumping-off point. Use it to position yourself as an information resource. Authentic information on trending topics and breaking news may establish you as a thought leader in the long run.
Strategize how your team will use these trending topics and events for trend jacking purposes to make your brand visible and enhance your internet presence. Being well-versed with the current topics certainly helps, but for meaningful conversations, it’s equally important that you understand your prospect’s goals.
3. Understand what the prospects are looking for – You should clearly understand what success looks like to your client. Don’t show up in the event as a typical salesperson who attempts to scan badges, seek prospect’s attention by futile talk, throw business cards at them and concern them with things they appear least interested in.
A better approach is to figure out the event guest list beforehand, do some research on your prospects criterion for success and what they are hoping to get from this event. In addition to social media search and other sources, a good way is to connect with the prospects before the event, where possible, and create a plan of action. Once this is done, ask yourself what all you’ll need at the conference and pack your bags accordingly.
4. Decide what you need to pack for the event – To avoid last-minute hassles, it’s important to plan your luggage beforehand. Thinking beyond the professional attire, comfy shoes, reusable water bottle, notepad, and protein bars; you need to focus on other significant things that can make events less stressful and fun at the same time.
Yes, I am talking about gadgets, tools, and accessories! Of course, you’ll have your Smartphone with you to snap pictures of the speakers, attendees and the event hall to keep your online community updated and involved. What is far more important is to have tools that can help save your time and effort so you can spend most of the time meeting new people and networking. For this, you can equip your phone with these apps:
- ScanBizCards: A card reader that scans and exports your business cards to your CRM
- GroupMe: A group messaging service that even works over SMS.
- Bizzabo: A great tool to network with new people at the conferences
- CityHour: For spontaneous meetings with other professionals
Once you’re all set, it’s time to head for the event. Make sure you’re not late for the event and dress professionally.
5. Learn how to conduct yourself at the event – It’s difficult to predict everything that’s going to take place at the event but there are a few things you can certainly take care of. Begin by being your own self – be genuine and authentic. You may not like to drink but hold a drink anyway- you’re likely to meet more people near the bar during the breaks than anywhere else. Take notes where required, treat people as friends and offer genuine help. Ask sensible questions and be specific for what you’re looking for rather than simply acting as a card spammer and working the room.
Alongside, make sure you keep your off-site team aware of the recent activities, delays, last-minute changes in the schedule or venue, and other things happening at the event in real-time. Also, make sure you remain well-informed about any influencers actively involved in posting about the event and what your competition is posting online. Keep things moving at the right pace and when the event gets over; brace yourself for the all-important post-event activities.
6. Do not forget about the crucial post-event activities – Once the event is over, you should make notes of what happened during the event, what promises you made, sort out the business cards you scanned/collected, Google all your relevant contacts, figure out some jumping-off points and follow up with the relevant prospects accordingly. All this must happen within 48 hours of the event so that prospects are able to recognize you.
Nurture these connections slowly and gradually and finally meet up to take things further but before you ask for any favor, be ready to offer something useful to your prospects to make it a win-win deal. Additionally, as the event is over, scrutinize your team efforts, check the social media statistics, see how many new contacts/leads got added to your sales funnel, and calculate your networking ROI from the event. This will offer you an insight into ways you and your team can improve your performance in future and will assist you in choosing conferences that will get the most bang for your buck.
These tips can certainly help drive higher sales growth for your business. So, make sure you’ve planned well and are prepared to make the most from your next major networking event. Happy networking!!