How to generate leads and use follow-up to create prospects.
Networking might be difficult, especially when you first start. But, the more that you do it, the better you’ll become and the easier it will be. Just like any skill, it will take some time to master. Learning to network is well worth the time and energy it will take, and it’s a talent that you’ll use throughout your life.
These five skills make connecting simple and natural.
The more prepared you are, the easier and smoother networking will be.
Leave your comfort zone. Be ready to engage. Look professional, dress appropriately for the event and relax.
A friendly, confident demeanor is attractive.
Non-verbal communication is a precursor to verbal communication so make sure you’re not sitting in a dark corner or hiding behind your drink with your shoulders slumped over your phone. Eye contact, a smile and a firm but warm handshake are all strong, non-verbal cues that invite conversation. Have your “elevator speech” ready but deliver it naturally and conversationally. You want to provide compelling information about what you do and be prepared to answer questions, but you also want to listen and engage in a way that facilitates establishing a real human connection.
This is a great time to introduce your Shuffle success tool — Ask for their business card and show them how easy it is for you to make them one of your important contacts. If it’s appropriate take a selfie with them (more on this later). These things show that you are authentically interested in staying in touch with them and will make you more memorable when you do follow up.
1.1.2 Active listening
Good listening skills can help you make valuable connections.
Be willing to mingle. Introduce yourself and ask questions. Be open, show interest in those you’re talking to and offer genuine compliments. If you’re going to follow up effectively you need to know what your new connections actually care about. Those are the topics that, when you follow up, they will pay attention to. Work on being a good, active listener by maintaining eye contact, paying attention, and responding with insightful, relevant questions.
1.1.3 Strategic questions
Effective networking is about asking questions to find out more about your prospects so that you can follow-up effectively. Use active listening skills to ask questions that build on what the other person is saying. This demonstrates that you are sincerely interested in their ideas. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your questions. Try to move past the standard questions that people hear all the time.
1.1.4 Focus on the other person
It’s all too tempting to talk about ourselves. However, when you genuinely want to connect with someone, you need to make the conversation about them. It’s fine to talk a bit about yourself, but then turn the focus back to the other person – and definitely don’t try to sell anything during your first conversation. If they like you and are interested in what you have to offer, the selling will take care of itself.
1.1.5 Adding value
This is sometimes the most difficult skill to master. Think about ways you can offer value to others through your knowledge, skills, or even through your connections. Understanding the value you offer can help you establish mutually beneficial relationships. People need your help, and you need theirs. Don’t be afraid to offer that help or shy about asking for their assistance.
Networking events provide an introduction to new professional connections. They plant the seeds of a professional relationship, but it’s up to you to show your commitment, trustworthiness and competence as you patiently cultivate the relationship. Eventually, your commitment and credibility will lead to a growth in your popularity.
If you want to build a strong network of professional contacts, you must master the fine art of follow-up.
1.2.1 Follow up immediately
Don’t wait a week or longer to make the first contact. If you wait too long, your new connection may vaguely remember you, but the impact of your meeting will have dramatically diminished. Instead, reach out immediately with a Shuffle Digital Business Card or in the next day or two with a ‘great to have met you’ card from SendOutCards.
1.2.2 Take notes and photos
Immediately following a networking event or social gathering, take notes about the people you spoke to and what you talked about. Include superficial details that may help jog your memory, such as what they were wearing or what they looked like. Make quick voice messages to yourself after you meet someone with specific details about them and what they are interested in. Take a photo of them. If the situation and conversation presents an opportunity for a selfie with them, even better. These photos are perfect for adding to your ‘nice to have met you’ card to personalize your initial follow-up and remind them who you are.
1.2.3 Use your calendar
After your initial follow up, set a reminder in your Shuffle calendar to follow up again in a few days. Reconnect with clients, colleagues and customers on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries are a great time to connect by sending out a personalized card. Holiday cards are also a personal way to create a lasting impression. Any excuse you can think of to re-connect that will keep you on their radar without putting you in the stalker category.
1.2.4 Connect on Social Media
LinkedIn — No other social media platform has the same professional reputation as LinkedIn. When you send your request to connect, remind the person who you are and how you met. This is your opportunity to use those notes you took to mention something you talked about such as, “I enjoyed learning about your passion for golf and how I can improve my golf swing. I’ll put your tips to good use this weekend.”
Facebook — Like their Facebook page and comment on anything you genuinely find interesting or would like to learn more about. Be sure to share your own page link and share their posts with your followers.
1.2.5 Host an event
A casual dinner or cocktail party can be a great way to entertain and build rapport. Invite clients and colleagues you think will get along well or be able to do business together. When you generously help others connect, you create new business opportunities for yourself as well. Use SOC to deliver personal invitations that will make you and your event stand out in their minds.
Done well, building your network is a valuable investment in yourself and in your business. Developing the ability to approach and talk with people in a meaningful way won’t just improve your business, it will also give you more confidence and better people skills in your everyday life.
These proven systems are not only simple, efficient and cost-effective ways to grow your business, they both offer excellent business opportunities through their outstanding income-generating programs.