As we prepare for the Holiday parties, conferences, and conventions after our return from the COVID coma (yes I know it's not over), we need to remember the emptiness that many of us feel just days after the event. Most people who have attended conventions, conferences, chamber of commerce events, and cocktail parties leave with a feeling of excitement about the countless business opportunities only to find out weeks later that they have no business to show for it. If this describes you, you’re not alone. While these networking events are great for meeting prospects face to face, we do need to realize that they serve as an interruption in our daily lives. So how do we get the most from these events? First we have to make the following assumptions and treat them as facts….because as you will learn…they are!
Fact # 1: The most important business card is the one you receive, not the one you give.
At the next event you attend you must assume that the person you’re speaking with will receive dozens of business cards. Your business card may get lost, forgotten, or confused with another prospect. Therefore, you must take the responsibility to receive their contact information, put it in your database and follow up.
Fact # 2: You will be forgotten within 48 hours of your meeting.
Maybe sooner! You had a great meeting. Perhaps you had a few drinks; and you and your new “best friend” agreed that the two of you working together could conquer the world. Unfortunately after the meeting your “new best friend” got a call from his wife and now has to pick up the milk. This weekend his daughter has a dance recital, and now he's busy watching Tik Tok videos. You better assume as FACT that no matter how engaging you were at the meeting, that your prospect, like you, has a life outside of business and your failure to follow up immediately will result in you being forgotten!
Fact # 3: If you are waiting for someone to email or call you….you will be disappointed!
As mentioned in Fact #2, you will be forgotten within 48 hours of your meeting. So if you’re under the assumption that someone is going to email or call you as if they have no life outside of you….you will be disappointed. Don’t be afraid to take the first step, even if they “promised” to email or call. Just send a “thank you”. Tell them you enjoyed the meeting.
Fact #4: No one will “Like” you, “Accept” you, or “Follow” you unless you’re willing to take the first step!
In the world of social networking, I hear all the time “Like” me on Facebook, “Accept” my invitation on LinkedIn, or “Follow” me on Instagram. Try taking the first step. Make sure you're the one to send the social media invitations. Ask your prospect about their business pages. You’ll be surprised at how well you are received when you show an interest in some one else's business.
Fact # 5: You are not on anyone’s calendar or schedule.
Make sure you are the one to schedule the follow up meeting on your calendar, and send out the invites. Everyone has smart phones, book the meeting and send out the invite before you part ways. Make sure you reconfirm the meeting at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.
Fact #6. You need to plan an agenda for your meeting.
Part of any successful follow up meeting whether it be telephonic or in person is an agenda. Take the initiative and send out an agenda for the meeting. Invite your prospect to make additions to the agenda so you can be productive.
Fact #7. After your meeting, you need to send out the proposal, agreement, and/or invoice.
If you want to make sure that your “networking” turns promptly into “business”, than you need to make sure that your business is ready to send out proposals, agreements, or invoices on a timely basis. This is true whether you’re dealing with a small business or a Fortune 500 company. In fact, in many instances, because of the politics that often occur with larger companies, they often prefer that others draft the proposals for review.
Fact #8. Even in the 21 Century, face-to-face marketing is still the most effective manner for getting business done.
21 Century Technology is great. We can accomplish so much from behind our computers, our tablets, and smart phones. But don’t use technology as an excuse to avoid real inter personal relationships. Learning how to network face to face while utilizing technology to quickly and effectively follow up is the key to generating real business.
Like you, the people you do business with have been forced to accomplish more with less. They are inundated with thousands of messages daily and still need to juggle work and family. It is not that your business is not important. Actually it is very important, that’s why you can’t assume that someone else will focus more on your business than you will. If you need assistance with your next networking event you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.