Old-fashioned Face-to-Face networking (even virtually) is still a valuable and often under-appreciated art form. Are you ready to get the most out of a 10-15 minute opportunity?
Here are a few suggestions:
Before you meet
- Set your goals for networking – Are you learning, starting a relationship or selling?
- Identify Personas you seek – Take the time in advance to identify the personas you hope to connect with and those you might connect with. Set time limits, goals, key message points for each. Think through the target persona’s value profile and your product profile using a tool like the Value Proposition Canvas.
- Outline your strategy and plan – Identify your targets. Prepare your message and materials you might share. Split responsibilities with a colleague. Prepare your follow-up note in advance.
- Practice – Know your story. Have your one or two sentence elevator description. Practice it with a colleague.
- Show up a little early – Also known as don’t be late.
When you meet
- Listen – Listening is often referred to as the secret weapon of selling. When you focus and listen you might identify needs you can uniquely fill while building your reputation as a professional.
- Plan your time in advance (generally speaking) – Consider this outline for your meeting:
- Make a good first impression (1 minute). Say hello. Introduce yourself. Show your enthusiasm and thank them for making time/being there.
- Provide an overview statement (1-2 minutes). This is an elevator pitch and goal statement that includes:
- Your core service or product
- What problem your company solves for customers
- Special benefits of working with your firm, and
- What you hope to accomplish in this meeting.
- Core discussion (10 minutes).
- Start with a few basic questions you have
- Focus your questions on topics the contact is uniquely able to answer
- Don’t waste time seeking information you can easily find online
- Based on Q&A, share more information about what makes your firm unique and explore how that might fit with the contact’s needs.
- Ask if there is anything you can do to assist the contact
- Throughout this discussion, allow them to share information and take good notes.
- Wrap-up (1-2 minutes)
- Thank them for the time and information and supporting small business
- Ask if the contact might suggest another person with whom you might speak. Make your request topic specific to help them help you.
- Outline next steps like attending an event, follow-up call, etc.
- End on time
After you meet
- Send a Thank-You – Short is fine. Include reference to any agreed next step or bit of information you might be sharing that they will find valuable.
- Complete Agreed Next Steps – If you did agree to next steps, make sure you address them completely and in a timely fashion. Follow- up on referrals.
- Keep Track of Your New Contact – Whatever system you use, note your new contact along with key information they shared.
- Plan your next contact – Consider when you should next reach out to your new contact. Get it on your task list or calendar. When you see news or opportunities that your contact might value, send it to them.
Speed type networking does not have to be intimidating when you have a plan. These present great opportunities for you to build your network with long-lasting, mutually productive relationships.
Tom Fulcher The Idea Gardener LLC ©2018-2023