Yes! I know everyone is busy. I had a boss who told me once, “eating and sleeping is a sign of weakness.” Well, I think he was a bit off…but not by much. Working to stay connected is extremely important in this fast-paced world in which most executives — regardless of business size — find themselves. You can’t keep that connection going with only a piecemeal effort.
Remember, it’s not merely appearing at a networking event. It is about interacting. When you interact you meet new people. But then, nothing happens, right? The good news is that you went to a networking event. The bad news is for most people that networking event is the last step, rather than the first. Hopefully, you got a conversation going. And, importantly, you got a business card or two with good contact information.
Trying to re-connect, follow up and stay in touch after a networking event is an important relationship building step. So, how does one stay connected? How do you cultivate a relationship that pays dividends in the future?
Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that something will come from your networking efforts is not enough. Researchers have documented bottom-line benefits from effective follow up. A 20% increase in some businesses have been reported — but only after they had been together for a year or more. In other words, reconnecting takes time. So plan for this effort in your daily and weekly schedule. One to two hours minimum.
Here is what works for me and I would suggest you try these five ideas over the next five weeks:
1. Put out a newsletter. An electronic newsletter is a great way to stay connected. You can highlight successess, new services, new staff and products. Once a month or once a quarter will do the trick. The newsletter should go to customers, potential clients, professional colleagues and vendors.
2. Do a lunch bunch. Again, eating is NOT a sign of weakness. Use lunch as a method to get to know a few people better. Set up lunch for one other person or select a small group, 1 to 3. It is a great way to discover common interests and to drive business.
3. Send a postcard. Hand-writing has become an exclusive art form with all the texting and emailing going on. So, use this fact to your advantage. Write notes telling about something new or some interesting facts about your industry. Also include a reminder. Something like, “I hope you think of me when you need…(Fill-in-the-blank).
4. Notice publicity. Regularly check the local newspaper, radio and TV and look for publicity about your contacts. Clip any mention or try to video and send the item along with personal note.
5. Speak out. The number 1 fear most have is public speaking. Assuming that you don’t have this phobia, speak to local groups and be sure that the program organizer publicizes your speech. Also, plan on sending a news release to inform others about this service.
Finally, the key is following up systematically. Doing so will build and maintain business connections.
I would like to hear from you. Please share ways you stay engaged with your network.
by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates
Attending a networking event is a key public relations activity.
A critical component is moving around the room and meeting and engaging with people. To be able to have a second conversation exchanging business cards is a critical first requirement.
Lately, it seems that folks attending networking events aren’t armed with a business card making it very difficult to continue the dialogue. I never leave home without them. I have them in my jacket, my attache case, my car and I even take them to family or friends social events as you could have an unexpected encounter .
How many do I carry? I try to find out the number of people attending the event but usually I have 5-10 cards at the ready.
I get these explanations for not carrying a card: “I left them at home.” “I am out of cards.” “My contact information has changed, sorry.” I do hand my card regardless and I always say, “Please send me your information when you have a moment.” Business cards tell others about who you are, what you offer and how serious you are about marketing yourself and/or your company, organization or event. I try to be pleasant during the exchange, however, I know the likelihood of ever receiving a card from them is slim to none.
Here are three reasons why business cards are still important today for doing business.
1. Something to hand out: By handing out a business card, you have given that person something to refer back to. Also, they might even give the card to someone else who is interested in your services or products!
2. Perfect when time is limited: You might only have a few seconds or the networking event is so loud that a conversation is nearly impossible. Giving out your card can lead to future discussions in a more quiet and lengthy venue.
3. It’s the right thing: Exchanging cards puts both individuals on an equal playing field. It shows respect. It signals that the conversation you just had was beneficial to both.
Here are three items to remember when designing a business card.
1. Contact information: Voice mail, phone, fax, address, email and website. Often I see that email is missing. This error means that a person must go the extra mile to contact you. No email address increases the chance that your card will be tossed.
2. Readable: Don’t cram your card with information. White space on a card will make it easier to absorb your message and makes for easier scanning into your contact database on your computer. Include a logo as it adds a professional flair to the card.
3. Shape: The traditional size is 3.5″ by 2″. If larger it likely will not fit in a wallet or a business card holder. Also, if you decide to “cut” the card at an angle or have some other special effect make sure it’s the right size or it will end up in the trash.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Investing and carrying business cards is a necessary step to building a relationship. For the low cost of the card, I think it’s money well spent. I hope you agree.
Do you have a business card? If so, please send me one at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to hear your comments on the value and where you keep your business cards so you always have them at the ready!
by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates
Silos: Silver. Red. Multi-colored. Often standing alone or in twos. All across America. Perfect for a farm. No so, when conducting public relations activities.
- You give a presentation to tell people about your organization, event or issue, but you do not mention your own services.
- You go to a networking meeting, like a “business after hours,” and you tell someone you meet, “I will call you.” However, you don’t follow-up.
- You post a advertisement in the local paper or have a mention or radio or TV but don’t list your website address.
Today, with the way that consumers take a decision journey before deciding what to buy, what to support, what to attend, this lack of coordination and integration of all your marketing techniques is a must do! In other words,each tactic (technique) supports each other and continues to move the prospective client through your marketing system.
Let me reinforce, please. Instead of simply doing ONE marketing technique then walking away, consider creating a marketing “NETWORK” of techniques where one technique encourages the prospective customer to participate in another marketing technique.
Here are some examples of integrated marketing techniques.
- When giving a speech, ask the audience to sign up for your free newsletter.
- On the back of your business card, offer a free report or other service and give them the website address where they can download it and phone number to call for questions.
- At a networking event, refer people to your website to pick up an article that solves a problem they’re having. I am assuming that you have a website? If not, please contact us.
- When doing a radio or TV interview, remind people that you offer a free initial consultation and tell them how they can sign up for one. Even throw in a discount for one of your services.
- On your website home page place a clickable graphic that tells visitors about your free monthly webinar or other forums.
- When referencing a book at an event write a review and post your comments and information on how to purchase the book.
Silo Marketing is often found in business, nonprofit, special event organizations. Is it in yours? I would like to know why? And what your next steps are to remedy this problem.