Shaking hands and kissing babies at networking events is a marketing staple of small and large businesses. Networking at association events, expos and mixers can be a huge source of new customers and higher sales. But why isn’t your sales Team flooded with new quality prospects? Why isn’t every event a home run?
Here’s a snippet from our Rock Your Networking – Contacts to Customers Online Course on the top 3 Tips to Crush Networking Events.
1. See People NOT Targets and Prospects
Everyone at the event large or small has a life. They have children, pets, families and loved ones. They also are dealing with issues – whether it’s about their job, business, family, animals, politics – whatever it is they have a million things going on in their personal lives. They also have emotions – and most people BUY from people that they like REGARDLESS of price.
Many sales “pros” attend events and see the room as targets, prospects or numbers. They try to be slick and it comes across salesy and slimy – turning people off immediately. Some just hand out cards like they are passing out candy at Halloween. Trust me 99% of those cards go right in the trash.
When you stop seeing numbers and see people, you start building relationships, trust and opportunity. When people see you actually care about what THEY say, their feelings and what’s happening in their lives – they are much more open to your help.
2. Don’t Try to Sell At The Event
Raise your hand if the reason you go to networking events is that you have something to SELL. Keep your hand up if you go to networking events to BUY something.
99% of hands went down. Virtually no one goes to networking events to BUY stuff. So why is your sales team trying to sell there? Stop selling and start asking questions to build RELATIONSHIPS.
As mentioned in #1 – these are people – and If you show interest in who they are and what they do, they will tell you what they NEED. Ask questions, find connectors that you can talk to people about. Hear an accent? Ask them where they are from? Do they have dogs, cats, children? What type of business do they have? Who are the customers they want – that you may have in your database? Make it all about them – and they will be more open to hearing more about YOU – and what you do – and what you sell.
One last tip under here: Don’t hand people large fliers or catalogs at events and expos – 95% of those end up in the trash. I joke about loving that they give me a bag at trade shows – I can take out the good free stuff and throw everything else away all at once.
3. Follow Up Follow Up Follow Up
I see so many desks and drawers with stacks and stacks of business cards – I’ve even seen a 5 gallon bucket full of cards that had been collected – and then forgotten. I’ve seen companies pull fish bowls full of cards out of containers housing their trade show display they used at LAST year’s show. Why waste hours of your life or thousands of dollars on displays if you never follow up with anyone. 95% of people Don’t Follow up.. so don’t feel bad – let’s fix it.
FOLLOW UP IS THE GENESIS OF OPPORTUNITY.
Follow up multiple times with people. Everyone is busy, they may not see your sales person’s 1st or 7th email. This is where MOST sales people fail – they send a sales letter once – which you shouldn’t do at all – and if there is no response – they never follow up again. Wasted opportunity. Connect with them on social media. Don’t be a stalker, but most people are open to connecting with nice people and other professionals. Use automated email programs and create a systematic way to send and track opens, clicks and responses.
Business owners and sales managers: If you are not tracking how your sales team is following up with people, you are losing thousands or millions in sales. Trusting your Team to do a great job at converting contacts into customers with managing that process is a huge liability and easily fixed.
Networking can be a low cost – high reward marketing strategy for small and enterprise level companies. Whether you are B2B, B2C or B2G converting your sales Team into Networking Ninjas with books full of leads, sales and referrals will multiply your sales, decrease marketing expenses and improve profits.