As many of you know, this week I'm co-hosting a networking event in the West Island of Montreal. Networking is acknowledged as a great 'marketing strategy'. I don't disagree with that. However, I strongly disagree with attending networking events for the sake of just attending. For me, networking should be the FIRST step in creating new business relationships or the FIRST step in re-activating an older business relationship.
It's what you do AFTER the networking event that either makes or breaks it. After all, just like other marketing strategies you need to consider whether you are getting the most bang for your buck, i.e. you need to evaluate your return on investment. That's right -- networking, even if there is no charge to attend, still costs you. It costs you in time and lost revenue.
So what will you do to strengthen/nurture those business relationships that you start at the networking event? Do you have a 'next step'? Do you have a system in place to follow-up or stay-in-touch?
My Entrepreneur's G.P.S. suggestion actually starts BEFORE the networking event:
- Set a goal i.e. to meet & have meaningful conversations with 2 new people who might be my perfect clients.
- Follow-up with these 2 after the event by asking them on a Coffee date. The intention here is to get to know their business better so that you can possibly refer others to them. While you are listening about their business, you will also uncover some of their challenges and no doubt they will ask about your business. This is NOT the place to sell your services (unless they really, really, want them!)
- Lastly, after the Coffee Date continue the relationship whether it's on social media, or inviting them to join your newsletter, or sending them referrals.
I consider Coffee a worthwhile 'marketing' strategy! Just like all the other strategies out there, it's important to understand where your perfect client hangs out and how you can authentically help them.
Have an awesome week and hopefully I will see you at networking event soon!