So you’re officially ready to get your new business out there.
Networking by far is one of the quickest and most direct ways to get in front of potential clients. The faster you get yourself out there, the faster sales conversations can be had, and revenue can be made.
The only way to learn how to network effectively is to start attending events and learning as you go. However it’s always helpful to have a basic idea of exactly what to expect, so you can feel calm and confident going into the event.
Stick with me if you want to learn the very best ways to network effectively, step by step, based on my 15+ years of experience with this style of marketing.
Learn to Effectively Network and Introduce Yourself Directly to Your Ideal Clients (or the People Who Know Them), No Waiting Necessary
You want to land your first paying client. When this happens, it checks off two boxes:
#1: You then know have what it takes to be in business for yourself, and
#2: That if you successfully got one client, you can do it again, and again.
The journey getting to this point is stressful.
First step is shifting your mindset away from creating assets like websites, content or paid ads, and instead focus on building relationships. In order for this to happen, you need to know where your ideal client hangs out… offline.
Second step is putting yourself out there and meeting them where they hang out offline.
If you’re unsure of how to introduce yourself and your business, use a business positioning statement (download a copy below!).
If you’re unsure of where to even start, you can do some research and find some great options in advance.
If you’re afraid of rejection, you can shift the focus off of you, and instead make it all about the other person.
These are all great steps to starting the process of making your business seen… but they’re only the tip of the iceberg.
After you learn how to effectively network and start booking individual, one-to-one meetings, you then need to know how to turn those meetings into sales calls. Then you’ll need to close the sales, process the payments, invoice them, and deliver your product or service in an effective manner.
Don’t stress about anything beyond effective networking just yet! I have something that will help you with the rest of the process. For today we’re just focusing on how to attend a networking event effectively.
Today I’m sharing exactly what to expect, and do when you attend a networking event. This will help ensure you are spending your time effectively and getting the best bang for your buck.
Don’t Be an In-Effective Networker
One thing you’ll learn once you start attending networking events, is the vast majority of people who attend networking meetings do so with no pre planned strategy.
This is a mistake. A big mistake.
Without having a plan on who you want to be speaking to and crafting a pitch that will help you get connections to them, you’re setting yourself up to have a LOT of meetings with people who will do absolutely nothing to help further your business.
They’ll be in the wrong industry, the wrong age range, and worst yet… know absolutely no one that you can actually help.
Go into a networking event with a plan, and the tables turn tenfold. You’ll spend a fraction of the time actually attending events and meeting with people, because you’ll be selective about who you meet with.
People in general don’t attend networking events with a plan… the fact that you are strategic, in control, and know what you want will become magnetic to others. They’ll either want to meet with you… or refer the people you want to meet to you.
This will help build your confidence and make you an even more effective networker. That plus the added bonus of landing that first client FAST.
How I Learned How to Network Effectively
It’s not easy for me to admit… but it was a process to get to where I am today with my networking presentation.
When I first started, I was terrible.
I knew intuitively that it would be quicker for me to meet people in person than posting content online and waiting for them to find it… so I at least got that part right and put myself out there and attended events.
I had absolutely no plan going into events aside from dazzle people with my glowing personality.
This actually created a problem for me. Because I’m a very easy-going and personable person, when I’m at an event it’s very easy for me to get attention. I soon found that my calendar was packed with one-to-one meetings with people I had met at events.
Still, months went by and for the amount of time I was investing in attending the events and one-on-one meetings, I was barely breaking even in terms of revenue for my business. I was also spending more hours in my new business doing this than I had spent at my prior full-time job!
In short… something wasn’t working. So I decided to change some things.
First I got super specific on the people I wanted to meet, as well as my reason for wanting to meet them. Then I strategized the benefits of why these people should want to meet me.
Once I landed this level of clarity… my introductions and elevator pitches became effortless, and I became known as the person who could solve this specific person’s problem.
The reason this strategy worked is because it shifted my mindset from wanting to meet everybody, to instead meeting the right people.
You can take this approach as well, even if the thought of limiting opportunities when you have none in the pipeline to start makes your anxiety surge.
Here’s how you do it.
First, we’re going to strategize on who we want to meet, and why they should want to meet with us.
Second, we’re going to add events to our calendar to attend.
Third, we’re going to attend the events (and do so effectively).
Fourth, we’re going to follow up with the folks we meet to set up one-on-one (1:1) meetings.
Fifth, we’re going to have the 1:1 meetings and use them to create future sales conversations.
Step One: Create a Strategy
Before you attend your first networking event, you’re going to create a strategy.
Going into the event without one is going to set you up to waste a lot of time. Not just your own time… but the other attendees you meet at the event.
Here’s the goal of your strategy: to prioritize meeting people who are either your ideal client avatar (ICA), or people who can put you in touch with them.
First up in creating your plan: you’re going to need to be crystal clear on what your business does, and who specifically you help. This is a time not to be generic… niching down in your industry will really help you stand out among your competitors.
You also are going to need to do a brainstorming session and think about all the different non-competitive careers and industries who also work with your chosen ICA.
If you’re unsure of how to even go about this, you may want to check out this workshop I run here. It’s instant access and helps you figure out all these important details in less than 2 hours so no stone is left unturned.
Next up you’re going to want to decide on how many hours a week you want to be dedicating to implementing your networking strategy. You’ll want to include time spent researching networking upcoming event opportunities, time spent at meetings, as well as time set aside to set up 1:1 meetings with the folks you meet at them.
Once you have the groundwork of your strategy outlined on paper, add the time to your calendar for next week and let’s get to work finding events to attend.
Step Two: Find Events Your ICA Frequents
Next we’re going to do some research and find some upcoming events that your ICA (or the people that know them) may be hanging out at.
We want to do our homework and not just attend any ol’ event. The truth is if the people we outlined we want to meet in our strategy aren’t in attendance… then it’s a giant waste of time!
If you haven’t already grabbed your cheat sheet from this post and started brainstorming ideas of where your ICA hangs out offline… start there.
Once you’ve completed that, now it’s time to hit up the web and find out what’s going on in your area or virtually online over the next week or two. Great places to search include Google, Eventbrite, Facebook Events, Meetup.com, and various associations and industry websites.
When you find an event that matches all your criteria… add it to your calendar and get ready to put yourself out there and start networking! Then you’ll be ready to actually attend the event.
Step Three: Attend Networking Events
The big day is here! It’s time to attend the event.
Attending the actual event is necessary for obvious reasons. You don’t get to make the connections and build the relationships you are looking to create without this necessary step.
Before you head out to the event you want to make sure you have your introduction script ready. I call this a business positioning statement, and you can grab a great template to create yours here.
That way when you have an opportunity to introduce yourself, whether it be during the dedicated networking portion of the meeting, or during more formal “60 second introduction” segments a lot of networking events do, you’ll be prepared and confident.
Now it’s time to attend the event. Your goal while there is to make a list of people who have attended the event that you want to set up 1:1 meetings with, after the event.
This is a step that so many networkers miss out on: the follow up! The real magic in growing your business happens during the meetings you have after your event, building relationships with the people you meet!
Make sure you bring a notepad with you. As other people are making their own introductions to you, you’ll want to make sure you make note of any names of people who either describe themselves as your ICA, or are in those non-competing industries you identified as part of your strategy planning session.
If the conversation allows, invite these people to a 1:1 conversation to learn more and provide directions on how to do it.
One, super easy way to put this out there is to include a statement like the one below at the end of your longer, 60 second introduction after you state who you are looking for introductions to:
“If this sounds like you or someone you know, I’d love to invite you a 1:1 phone call to discuss the opportunity and how we can best support each other. Please email me to get the conversation started.”
Collect business cards or contact info from people who either are your ICA, or can introduce you to your ICA. Some events if done virtually will sometimes provide a contact list of all attendees once the event is over which is a nice perk.
Once you have their contact info, you’ll have everything you need for the next step. Reach out to everyone who met your criteria… ideally the same day while the intro is fresh in their minds… and invite them to a 1:1 phone call or meeting.
Schedule the meetings for the times you had already dedicated on your calendar for networking meetings. They don’t need to be long… 30 minutes is usually more than enough. You want it to be just enough time to get to know each other and learn how to help each other reach your individual goals.
Step Four: Host One-On-One (1:1) Meetings
Next up you’re going to attend the 1:1 meetings you set up as a result of your networking event.
As I’ve already mentioned… these follow up meetings are where the magic happens. You’re trying to build relationships, and the best way to do that is one on one, casually getting to know each other.
Setting up and executing the calls doesn’t have to be complicated. You can either just call the person at the agreed upon time, meet them at a local coffee shop (pandemic permitting), or even send them a zoom or Google Meet link to meet virtually via video chat.
This step isn’t about how you technically manage your meetings. It’s more important that you do whatever it takes just to make them happen! So if technology scares you… keep things low tech and just call or meet the person somewhere.
On the meeting, you will want to have a loose agenda. Remember, we’re not having these calls to sell anything! It’s to build a relationship and see how you can help each other.
In general, it’s best to stick with each of you taking turns… explaining who you are, what you do, and who you are looking for connections to.
Let your guest go first and more than likely they’ll return the favor in asking those same questions back in return.
Here’s what’s interesting… if you run your strategy effectively and you do happen to get one of your ICA’s on one of these meetings, they’ll naturally ask you for additional details if they are interested in working with you.
When and if this happens, I DO NOT recommend you explain or getting into those details on this meeting. This is because the person originally agreed to the call to network, not to be sold something.
Instead I suggest you schedule a second, dedicated call to discuss what working with you would look like. A “sales” call. That way the person arrives at the call mentally prepared to hear your offer and decide whether or not to work with you. It makes for a much cleaner and better experience and builds stronger relationships in the long run.
By the end of your 30 minute conversation, you’ll have one of three outcomes.
CONGRATS! You have a new referral partner who can send you leads. or…
CONGRATS! You have a lead who’s agreed to a second call to discuss what working with you looks like!
Or, if the person is not a good fit for either – thank them for their time but don’t worry about following up.
You’ve come a LONG Way!
As a new business owner, you’ve come a long way!
So far, you’ve made the uber-important mindset shift away from creating assets, to instead building relationships for your new business.
You’ve also taken on the fear of putting yourself out there head-on. Whether your personal roadblocks are not knowing what to say, not knowing where to start, or overcoming a fear of rejection.
You also now have everything you need network effectively to grow your new business.
All these steps will help you put your new business out there, and become known in your industry for what you do. It’ll start to generate conversations, and leads for your business, which is the very first step in starting to build a successful one.
You’re still going to have to convert sales calls into paying customers. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to know how to take their payments, invoice them, maybe issue contracts, and keep track of your book keeping.
If you don’t want to feel like an entrepreneur imposter, and want to learn these skills, and learn them FAST, you definitely want to check out my Create & Validate Coaching program.
Over the course of 6 weeks, I walk you through step-by-step exactly how to package, market, and effectively sell your new business and land your very first paying customer.
In addition to weekly training modules and coaching calls, you’ll also be held accountable for your goals and dreams of making them happen. Both by myself, as well as other participants and graduates in our exclusive Facebook Group.
So if you’re ready to make your new business a reality, and want to land your first paying customer in the next six weeks, check out the program today by clicking here.