This is the final segment in our series on Face-to-Face marketing. Today, we’re focusing on getting you more from the networking events you attend.
Do you take advantage of local Real Estate or business networking events?
People often dread these things and find them pointless and will only attend if they feel it is absolutely necessary.
Our attitude towards these events changed when we learned that we had the wrong mindset and weren’t preparing for them effectively.
Read on to learn how to set goals for networking events, plan conversation topics to break the ice, incorporate techniques to explain your services and generate interest in your business. Lastly, we will share some tips for structuring a follow-up program to capitalize on your time and efforts.
Get in the Right Headspace
Successful networking events start with setting goals. In your mind, give yourself reasons for going and a way to measure your success afterwards.
Goals for the event could be:
- Thanking existing clients for their business
- Meeting with potential new clients
- Land a meeting with a local top producer
Success could be defined as:
- Met and thanked three existing clients
- Met three potential new clients
- Set a meeting with a top producer
For your first few events, set modest goals that will be easy to achieve. As you succeed at your goals, continue to set more difficult or larger goals. Setting and accomplishing goals will help you mentally see the value and success from participating in these networking events.
The next step is to prepare a few icebreaker questions that will lead to productive conversations.
Here are a few recommended icebreaker’s for you to try, and you should also prepare answers for yourself, in case they come back with “…and what about you?”
Some ideas are:
- What brought you to here tonight?
- Or, why did you decide to come to this event tonight?
This will help you learn their goals for the event. It will also give you an opportunity to share yours.
Presuming it’s a real estate networking event, you can start by asking:
- What do you do in real estate?
- If they’re an agent what sort of Real Estate do you prefer, representing buyers or sellers?
These questions will help start a conversation about them and their business. It should also lead to questions about your role in Real Estate and you’re purpose for being there.
Now presume it’s a local Chamber Event where there’s a mix of small business owners and business types. You could ask, “What sort of industry are you in?” Then continue by asking them more questions about their industry. People are comfortable when they can talk about themselves or something they know a great deal about. This is a great way to break the ice
Know How To Connect
The next thing you need to prepare for, is talking about yourself and what you do.
As professional photographers your work can speak for itself, but here you don’t want a conversation closer, you want a conversation starter. Offer something that will lead into a conversation about what you do.
When asked what ‘we do’, we’ll often start by saying “We document space, meaning we go into properties and collect visual and spatial data that we translate into photos, floor plans, measurements, area calculations, and 3D property tours.”
This usually prompts a host of new questions that will take us a number of different directions about iGUIDE.
This answer is particularly powerful because it’s something they haven’t heard before. Something they will remember. It separates us from all the other photographers they know. It makes us memorable.
This response also gives us flexibility to tailor the rest of the conversation to them. If they’re a realtor, we can talk about our value for real estate listings. If they own a local shop, we can explain how our Google business tours are helping local businesses online.
Now Put It All Together
Following up is the most important part, where you translate networking events into real business opportunities.
Following up after a trade show, office presentation, or networking event will be a lot easier if you structure a process that can be followed every time. To follow up you need contact information. So focus on being a card-getter, and not just a card-giver. Getting their information puts you in control of the next steps.
You can tell them that “I would really like to follow up with you, could I get your card?”
The next day:
- Send them a note.
- Thank them for the conversation.
- Remind them about what you do and give them some information or a web link to learn a bit more about you and what you do.
It’s important that you make your follow up relatable to them and their industry. If your new contact has the potential to be a client, keep your initial follow up friendly and then keep following up, subtly trying to earn their business. If the person you met may not be a direct client of yours, somewhere within their professional network, they know a potential client for you, so give them information they can share.
If you approach networking with a positive mindset, clearly defined goals, a plan for conversations and follow up after the event, you will find them fun and a great way to generate new opportunities for your business.