4 Tips to Give Your ‘Real Life’ Social Networking a Boost
Social media has made it easier to market to both national and international end users with just a click of a button. But it is important for small business owners to take into account that real life, face-to-face, traditional networking can be highly effective as well when done correctly. The following tips can give your real life social networking the kick in butt it needs for meeting more prospects to do business with.
Perfect Your Elevator Speech
Make sure that your elevator speech is short, sweet, and addresses the problems that you solve in a way that is memorable. For example:
“My name is Alanna Sample and I’m a virtual receptionist for ABC Virtual Services.” Yawn. Sigh. Boring!
“Hello, I’m Alanna Sample and I enjoy helping small business owners save time and money while maintaining a top-notch professional image.” Boom! Pow! Pow! Memorable.
Notice how the second example introduces who she is, who her target audience is, and what problems she solves in less than 8 seconds. The person interacting with her can then decide whether or not she can help them or perhaps someone else in their network. The first introduction is boring, easy to forget, and does not demonstrate who the target market is and how she can help. For more great tips for perfecting your elevator pitch check out my article on Growth University 60 Seconds to Sell Yourself.
Have a game plan for each networking event
When attending business networking events, always be sure to have a game plan in place so that you can effectively meet new contacts. Know what your goals are and set a time frame to accomplish those goals in. Make a list of who you want to meet (list them by name, industry, title, etc). This will eliminate a lot of wasting time and crowding around people that you already know —which is a big business networking event NO, NO! Never waste time talking to people that you already know at a networking event. Only talk to them briefly to say hello and IF they are introducing you to a new lead or vice-versa. Everything else can wait. You go to these events to rack up as many new leads as possible —period! You can find other times in your schedule to nurture existing business relationships.
Become the focus of the event
There are three ways to become the focus of a networking event:
- Speak at the event
- Sponsor the event
- Coordinate or volunteer at the event
When you offer to speak at an event this helps shift the focus towards you. Your attendance will be announced in the hosting groups newsletter, website, social networks and/or other relevant publications. Attendees will come to the event expecting to hear what you have to say, so make it good! They will also come to socialize with you before, during, and after the event to introduce themselves and ask questions. This is the ideal route for an introvert (although you must speak in front of a group of people) people will seek you out instead of the other way around. If you’d much rather bypass the public speaking option consider sponsoring a networking event. Sponsorship can entitle you the option to have; a banner at the event with your logo, other promotional items at the event such as notepads and pens, ads in the organizations newsletter or website, etc. Another road less traveled to meet more prospects at a networking function is coordinating your own event —think speed networking. Or agree to volunteer to help out with the networking event (i.e., registration, setting up, handling the food, cleaning up, locating guest speakers, etc).
Remember to follow up
There is no point in going to any networking event if you are not going to follow up. Once you meet people that you feel can become a customer of yours it is vital that you follow up to help build rapport and schedule additional meetings to sell. Email your new contact within 24 hours so that they will remember you and know that you are serious about building a business relationship with them. Stand out by forwarding new prospects a hand written note (who throws those away?) and an article that is pertinent to their industry. Very few people make small meaningful gestures like these, but those that do are remembered and schedule frequent trips to the bank.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with meeting and connecting with people via social media. Just remember not to neglect traditional networking for meeting new prospects too. Your bottom line will thank you.
Ashley Neal is an entrepreneur and small business advocate that enjoys writing about topics pertaining to small business. She is the owner of Small Biz Writer, where she specializes in providing quality content online for small business owners which in turn increases visibility and sales. Additionally, Ashley is the editor/writer and publisher of her own award-winning small business resource blog Small Biz Diamonds. She also writes for Examiner.com as the Atlanta Small Business Examiner, and Future Simple’s small business blog: Growth University.
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