Why Your Networking Isn’t Working

Why Your Networking Isn’t Working

For any business creating a large network is key to rapid growth. As someone who has been networking for a few years now, I have realized many flaws in those doing the networking that is not only losing sales but wasting precious hours. The last half of this post are the crucial steps that will usually make the difference between making the sale or waiting around for the call that never comes.

Common Networking Mistakes:

You talk more than 50% of the time

You should be asking lots of questions and getting to know their business and their needs. Ask them what got them into the business, what their current needs are and how you can help them out.

You don’t actually look at their business card

Make a note to look at both sides for about 5+ seconds, take note of their name and say it in your head a few times. An easy trick to not forget it and then put it in your pocket. Their business card is an extension of them so treat it with respect.

You eat too much

Do not pick up the food that will make your breathe stink or will fill your mouth so you cannot have a conversation. The smaller food and smaller bites, the better.

You stay longer than you should

If you meet someone who is just there to pitch you, get out as fast as possible. If you don’t see the conversation adding value to you or it having a potentially fit to help each other out, get out after 5 minutes. If the conversation is going great and you are reaching the 10 minute mark schedule a follow up coffee. The best excuses to leave a conversation is asking where the food or drinks are and a hearty “it was great to meet you (insert name here).”

You do not bring business cards, or you do not get one from them

Even if it is a cheap one with your name, e-mail and phone number to start, that is better than not having anything. I have found people are hesitant to give out their personal info to someone who isn’t willing to share theirs. If you leave without their business card that can be seen as disrespectful but it also doesn’t give you an e-mail or phone number to follow up.

You think networking is all about making a sale

Everyone thinks networking is about making a sale, but it is just as much about educating yourself. Learning about different industries, how others are conducting their business should give you tons of information on how to better run, position or market yours.

You do not have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

Add them to your CRM (check out HubspotSalesforceConstant Contact) with notes about what you talked about with any follow-up points that are needed. For example, “we talked about his need for a bookkeeper and I said I know of a great one I would pass along”, or “he is a big fan of Football, send a follow-up e-mail after the Monday Night game”, or best yet “he is interested in my services in one month, send over more details.”

Staying on top of your CRM is very important, let us know if you need some help with this.

You expect an immediate return

Networking is a long game, the goal is to get to know the right people and follow up with them to keep yourself top of mind. If they are not your ideal client their colleague, partner or sibling may be. I have made the sale 18-24 months after the initial contact and it wasn’t always to them. If I miss a month of networking I will not feel it tomorrow, but I will down the road.

You do not follow up

If I count the number of business cards I have and then check the number of follow-up e-mails I received from those people the number would be less than 1%. Taking the time out of your busy life, away from work and family to network, and then not follow up is wasted hours. Follow up by e-mail, add them on LinkedIn and post content regularly on LinkedIn to keep yourself top of mind. One task I handed off to my VEA (Virtual Executive Assistant) was to manage my e-mails and CRM to make sure no leads were failing through the cracks. It paid itself off immensely.

 You do not offer value

Sending a follow-up e-mail without following up on something you talked about, asking them to follow your social media or worse, pitching them, does not work. When following up, ask them if there is a social media platform you could follow them on to support them, and send a blog post about what you talked about. Find a way to help them out without the expectation of a return.

 You do not follow up twice

This is where the CRM comes into play. After the first time you met, add them to your CRM with notes about what you talked about. Offer value again unless they specifically said they want to meet with you to talk business in one week, one month, etc.

You do not follow up a third time

Do not stop following up until you feel like you can no longer offer each other value or they are a cold lead. Never get to the point of pestering them or overwhelming them with e-mails or phone calls and definitely do not add them to your e-newsletter without their permission.

Conclusion:

Networking can and will grow your business but it will take a lot of trial and error to see where you should be meeting people as well as finding out what works and what doesn’t. A CRM will be your best friend in all of this and help you to maximize your conversion rate. Like I said above a VEA will also help to make sure no leads or conversations are falling through the cracks. Let us know if there are any tasks you need to delegate to maximize your time networking and to see a larger ROI.

Derek Burbidge, Manager of Sales & Marketing
VEA

If this helped and you want to learn more, see our blog post on ‘Why Building Your Network will Transform your Business.’

Why Building Your Network will Transform your Business

Why Building Your Network will Transform your Business

 “Your Network is Your Net Worth.”

Porter Gale

Whether you are new to business or have been around for a while, your network is crucial to your success. If no one knows who you are, or what you do, chances are your business won’t go very far. It is very simple to attend networking events and you can find plenty online. We touch on a lot of the do’s and don’ts of networking on our “Why Your Networking Isn’t Working” post, but we will touch on a few things here as well.

The best way to explain networking is this:

Imagine I am a Financial Advisor with a network of 500 people and you are a Business Coach with a network of 300 people. If we get to know each other on a personal level and understand each other’s services the next time someone in my network of 500 people needs a Business Coach, where do you think I am sending them? Likewise, if someone in your network of 300 needs a Financial Advisor there is a very good chance you will send them my way.

But keep in mind networking is a long game, don’t go expecting an immediate sale. It is all about relationship building and helping each other out. It may take months or years to close on a sale but as long as you have a strong system in place to follow up and keep top of mind, it works. (Again, see our post on “Why Your Networking Isn’t Working” to learn how to put a proper system in place.)

How to Network

One easy way to network without leaving your office is cold outreaches on Social Media (LinkedIn, Alignable, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). This works, but you may only get 1/10 responding if you are lucky. Do not reach out trying to make a sale, do it to offer value and get to know them better. You probably receive those cold e-mails telling you your website is terrible and to use them to build a new one. They send that to 100 people a day knowing their ratio, 99 say no, 1 says yes. Don’t do that, it gives you a bad reputation with the 99 and is not sustainable.

Offering to buy them lunch or coffee is playing the long game, which is what networking is. Networking may lead to an immediate sale but expect it to take a year or not at all. Meet with them to get to know each other, grow your knowledge of their industry and if it’s a fit it will work out. Follow up at an appropriate time and find a way to keep yourself top of mind. Whether that is asking to add them to your social media or newsletter.

Bad Examples in “Networking”

Here are some real-life examples that happened to me:

Example 1: I was at a trade show and had someone come up to me with his business card printed to look like a million-dollar bill. He handed it to me and said “just doing some networking” and walked away. He never got my name, my card…he didn’t even give me a chance to say a word, he just walked away. Guess where that card went.

Example 2: At my first ever networking event I went to I was extremely nervous but I was getting the hang of it quickly. The third person I met gave me his card, told me what he did, said “nice meeting you” and walked away. The same thing, I barely got a word in, he had no idea what my name was and never got my business card. For my first event, I knew that was not how it was done.

These two bad examples should show you that networking is relationship building and a two-way conversation. Ask open-ended questions, go deep, be interested and if it isn’t a fit gracefully exit the conversation.

Where to Find Events

The best way to build your network is to join online groups, attend networking events, chamber of commerce/board of trade events, BNI or meetup groups. To find these events, look under the events tab on Facebook, and search Eventbrite or Meetup for events that seem to fit what you are looking for. If you know who your target market is it will be easier to zone in on which events will be best for you so you are not wasting your time at the wrong events.

Conclusion

Never forget the golden rule of networking, it is about building relationships and offering value. Do not go in there pitching everyone, nobody likes a Salesman or Saleswoman. It will take some time to find the right events and to learn how to do it well, but be yourself and enjoy getting to know new people. Play the long game, follow up and know when to ask for the sale.

Quick Tip:
  • Immediately add your new contact on LinkedIn and/or Facebook and send a follow-up e-mail.
  • As you are building your network on those platforms continually post value-based content.
  • A vlog post that is talking about new changes in your industry that are relevant to them or a quick one-minute tip.

If you need help organizing your CRM, social media or leads list let us know, that is one of our many specialties.

Derek Burbidge, Manager of Sales & Marketing
VEA