These days, salespeople get asked to participate in numerous prospecting activities that include group networking events. Often times, it can be difficult to translate these types of events into actual dollars. Networking can be an effective way to capture business and increase your brand's awareness and should be a part of any salesperson's healthy behaviors. When attending such events, here are a few pointers to keep in mind that may help you land that next big meeting.
1. First, ask why are you attending the event. Is it an opportunity to simply bring awareness to your company brand? Or are you looking to introduce your products and services to a new audience? Is this event an opportunity to show appreciation to existing customers by making referral introductions? Should you be connecting with vendors or current clients in a new way?
2. Second, identify whenever possible, your target prospects either by industry, title, or even better, by name! Sometimes the very people that can bring us business are the ones we never consider to be viable opportunities. Make a list of prospects, clients and vendors from whom and for whom you think you should ask for introductions. In any case, take every opportunity to find things in common and build a rapport, even if it's not a key decision-maker. You never know who might be able to walk you through a door!
3. Third, make sure your elevator or 60-second speech is ready to give at a moment's notice. This will ensure that you can give anyone a quick idea of what you and your company do without overwhelming them with facts and data which might actually be lost on a non-decision maker.
4. Fourth, find ways to be a servant within the event or organization. What I mean here is to look for ways to connect others to business opportunities without gain for yourself. Joe, a sales representative for a commercial lawn care company, recently had an opportunity to connect two folks he’d just met at an event which turned into discussions for a possible vendor relationship. In doing so, he built credibility with BOTH parties and was well remembered for his actions. After the introduction and subsequent conversation with one of the parties involved, he was able to ask AT THE EVENT if there was a need for the services Joe provided. He was told "possibly so," and that he should follow up with a phone call or email within the week. When he followed that suggestion, Joe was granted an audience to discuss opportunities and next steps. The gentleman he met with was the president of the company. He was pleased that Joe had already demonstrated an ability to correctly assess his needs and assist him in finding a vendor at a noisy, networking event.
5. Lastly, follow up, follow up, follow up! It makes no difference what you do at the event if you don't remind folks of what you offer and why you met them in the first place! Send those emails, connect through social media, and find ways to touch those you met and remind them of the connections you made.
To recap, when considering attending your next networking event, ask yourself:
Why are you going?
Who are you going to see?
Are you ready to present yourself succinctly?
Are you looking for opportunities to serve others?