Networking can be fantastic for your business – and if you play your cards right it can be one of your best lead generators! Here are a  few tricks to make sure it really works for you.

1.       Make sure you’re going to events that will attract your target market.

If you’re going to be “working” an event in the hopes of getting business, you want to make sure the people you want business from will actually be there.  If you’re going to an event to meet new clients, it’s a good idea to go to  events that your existing clients are going to – chances are high lots of interesting prospects will be there. If you’re going to an event to find referral sources, go where there will be lots to choose from – – for example for a Realtor looking to build a referral relationship  with Mortgage Brokers the Mortgage Summit could be a good option.

2.       Look the part.

If you’re networking to try and get business, make sure you look like someone who is ready for business. It’s a  good rule of thumb to dress one notch above the standard for your event.  Not only will this make you look professional, but you’ll also stand out in the crowd!

3.       Have “hooks” that inspire interesting  conversations.

When you go to an event to find new clients and someone asks you what you do, don’t just give the “I’m a REALTOR” or “I’m a Mortgage Broker” answer. It’s not that exciting, and for many it’s a conversation killer since they think you’re going to try and sell to them for
the next 30 minutes. Instead, answer with benefits and outcomes that your target market experiences. For example, Brian, a Real Estate Agent in the 5 Steps to More Leads and Big M.O.N.E.Y program worked in specific areas in London, Ontario, where families moved for the great schools. In the 5 Steps program we worked with Brian to come up with the “hook” that he “helped place families in neighbourhoods where their children had access to the best academic and sports programs”. It’s a conversation starter, and always gets people asking “how do you do that?” or “how does that work”. Using this approach we found that instead of conversations lasting 30 seconds , they last about 5 minutes
and you will have much more success booking meetings with prospects.

4.       The follow up is critical.

So you went to an event, you met some people and now you are waiting for your phone to ring, right? Chances are good that’s not going to happen. Your follow up to a networking event is really important, maybe even as important as going to the event. Make sure post-event you send a short email saying “nice to meet you”, or you can send a hand written thank you note (this will work better). If you have an e-newsletter you want everyone you meet to be on the list – so make sure you mention that you will add them, and if they prefer not to be included just to let you know. This is a trick we teach in the  5 Steps
that gets email opt-in, and very few, if anyone will ever opt –out of  your list. That’s a fast way to build a prospecting list!

5.       Nurture your relationships.

Make sure you reach out to your contacts on a semi regular basis with interesting, informative and sometimes just plain fun messages! Email is a great way to communicate; it’s inexpensive and quite easy to do, but keep in mind that everyone gets loads and loads of emails, so a phone call, or piece of snail mail is a great addition to your marketing mix
and the combination of the 3 contact points gets you much better results.  Social media is also a fantastic way to stay connected with contacts, so add them as facebook friends and follow them on twitter!

P.S.  Take a tip from the P.R. pros. When you meet a new contact make sure you
ask them some personal questions and write the few points that stand out on their business card. When you contact them later, you can ask about their stand out points, such as “How is your son Zac doing in soccer?” This will make your propsect feel more connected to you –> which makes them like you more –> which makes them more likely to do business with you!