For the solopreneur networking is essential for business. Networking serves many purposes: finding new clients, developing partnerships, building a mastermind group, finding solutions to your business challenges, meeting businesses you can outsource to, meeting referral partners, making new friends, and most importantly getting out of the house!
Prior to attending networking events you need to determine your goals. Knowing your goals helps you to be strategic with your networking-so that it bears results and opportunities.
Being strategic should not get in the way of being sincere and genuine while you are getting to know people. Your mindset should not be focused on just receiving, but to add value and build a positive rapport with the community you are engaged with.
Serving, giving, and adding value will take you far. Those you interact with could be future partners for joint ventures, clients, your top referral advocate, the guest for your new interview series, or your new best friend.
Therefore, it should not be a lion’s den mentality where you pounce on every one present. The goal is to build bridges, relationships, and future connections.
Kathy McAfee, the Marketing Motivator, has created a great video about crafting your 30 second introduction:
Before Attending Networking Events
- Go to networking events your ideal client would attend.
- Create a monthly calendar of networking events going on in your area.
- Create a budget for networking events and membership dues.
- Bring business cards and brochures.
- Prepare your outfit and accessories.
- Create a useful gift with your logo on it: post-its, pens, notebooks, calendars and the like.
During The Networking Event
- Learn about how and why individuals started their business.
- Seek out people who have your ideal client.
- Coordinate meet-ups with people who you feel a connection to. They could become referral partners, or connections for content creation (i.e. blog posts or video interviews).
- Say “hi!” and smile warmly to everyone present, even if you can’t talk with everyone. This will make you memorable.
- Introduce yourself to all the hosts, event coordinators, and speakers.
- Collect lots of business cards and jot down notes to help you remember them.
After The Networking Event
- Sort business cards to determine great clients, great referral partners, great content partners, people you want to meet up with, great joint venture partners, and those who you’d like to invite to your mastermind group.
- Follow-up with each person via email within 48 hours; remind them of who you are and express your interest in furthering your business relationship. In an informative and friendly manner share your blog URL, your free offer, your newsletter information, and mention your initial consultation process.
- Connect with people on social media by saying hi and if appropriate follow or friend them.
- Stop by their blog and leave a thoughtful and relevant comment on their current blog post.
- Subscribe to their newsletter if it is relevant or interesting to you.
- Spotlight an interesting business from the networking event on your blog.
- Set up a video or audio interview with people who share the same ideal client; this will expose each of you to your audiences.
- Host a group “coffee talk” or lunch outing with those who you want to get to know better.
- Share people’s business page on your social media and comment about positive attributes in their business.
- Mention interesting people or businesses from the networking event in your newsletter.
- Share interesting blog or social media posts from those you’ve meet.
What strategic networking ideas can you add?