One of the best ways to grow your business is to attend in-person networking meetings.
Networking meetings are not only great ways to find customers, but they also help you build an “unpaid sales force” of people who can refer business to you.
Before you attend your next in-person networking meeting, make sure to be prepared with these four tips.
#1: Know who attends the meeting
If you are attending a networking meeting for the first time, do some homework about the people who normally attend these meetings. This is best accomplished by “interviewing” the president or founder of the networking group. Ask her how many people attend the meeting, what professions they represent and the number of referrals the group members give each other.
This will give you a good feel for the type of people you will be networking with (and if it’s worth your time to even attend the meeting).
#2: Have a perfect business card
Your business card is not a collateral piece to be taken lightly. Make sure you have a business card with your photo, contact information and marketing pull questions to entice people to learn more about your business.
Also, don’t be afraid to give a card to a person more than once. Many times someone will have misplaced your first card.
Finally, keep a box of business cards in the glove compartment in your car. That way, you will never run out!
#3: Master your elevator speech
Your elevator speech (also called a 30-second commercial) is a powerful tool in your networking arsenal, so be sure to be prepared by having your speech memorized prior to your networking meeting. Also, consider having variations of your elevator speech, especially if you attend a networking group on a weekly basis (this way, you will give the networking attendees something new to hear about your business).
A quick Google search will give you numerous formulas for an elevator speech. Find one that works best for your style. Just make sure you include your first and last name, as well as web address, and repeat both pieces of information at the end of your elevator speech. People need to hear things several times before retaining it.
#4: Prepare how you’ll greet someone you haven’t met before
That is especially true at networking events. When approached by someone you have not met before (or if you approach someone), be ready for how you will strike up the conversation.
The best tip is to get the person to speak about himself, so ask what he does for a living and what challenges he experiences in his business. Be ready to identify how you may be able to assist this person, or be a “bridge” and help make a connection between two networking group members who could benefit from knowing each other. Making introductions makes you instantly memorable.
In-person networking is a valuable tactic for your marketing strategy, and even for the most confident of entrepreneurs, it requires preparation in advance. Make sure to give out a business card that embodies your marketing, and have your elevator speech and introductions memorized. With practice and a little homework, you can master in-person networking and build valuable connections that will promote your business.
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