Do you go to networking events to promote your business or make new contacts? Do you ever get frustrated when you take a couple hours out of your day to go to an event, but don't make meaningful connections? Here's a step by step strategy that has helped me make great business connections:
1. At the event make sure to meet as many people as possible. Have a short but meaningful conversation with each person you meet there. The goal is not to get a sale, the goal is to get key information.
2. Build rapport, ask questions, and gather information. Your goal is not to talk about yourself, although you’ll have to do this a little bit. Be an active listener.
3. If you don't have a great memory, have a pen with you and jot down a few notes on each business card you pick up. Note specifically what you spoke about.
4. If you find someone clinging onto you and dominating your time, interrupt politely and say, “excuse me, I want to hear more about this. I have a couple more people I need to meet. Let’s agree to meet later to finish this conversation. ” This is a great way to get follow up appointments by the way.
Now the real magic begins after the meeting.
5. Take all your business cards with notes and go back to your office. Put everybody into your database, and as you do so- send each one of them a personalized greeting card. You do not need to write a novel, just mention what you spoke about. “Dear Bob, it was nice meeting you at the xyz meeting Thursday. It's great to meet someone who has been going to the meetings for over 5 years – you can really help me make the best contacts. "
6. Close with a call to action, “Bob, I'd really like to sit down with you next week to talk about how we might be able to do business together. Could you call me at 555-555-1212 so we can set up a time. "
7. Mail your cards with a live stamp as opposed to metering them – this helps ensure they'll get opened.
After a recent networking meeting I got 2/3rds of the people I met with to call me to schedule a follow-up meeting. The biggest drawbacks to this strategy are #1 the time it takes and #2 the expense. Fortunately I have found a solution to both of these problems.
There's a new web service at http://www.sendoutcards.com/6690 that allows you to upload or enter your database, address, personalize and send cards online. The cards are sent with a live stamp and go out immediately. You can even set up whole mailing campaigns where people get a series of cards – a great marketing tool.
The most cost effective accounts are wholesale or distributor accounts. You can send cards for under one dollar, including postage. It beats the heck out of Hallmark for cost, ease of use, and time savings.
I send cards all the time and have people calling and emailing me to say thanks. The amount of good will you can generate from a single card beats almost any other direct marketing you can do, and probably costs a lot less.
Give it a try at your next networking event.
Copyright 2005 Marketing Comet
J D Moore - Marketing Comet http://www.marketingcomet.com http://marketingcomet.typepad.com http://www.sendoutcards.com/6690