While it’s tempting to stay behind a screen and use digital marketing for your startup, branching out to offline networking can make a huge difference to your success as an entrepreneur!
It’s a big world and networking is scary. These tactics, however, will help you develop a solid approach to creating a networking process that’ll boost your lead generation opportunities, develop your confidence, and build vital business partnerships.
1. Use Business Cards Everywhere You Go
Have premium business cards printed up – lots of them.
Take them everywhere with you and not just to business meetings. You never know who you’ll bump into!
A casual conversation on a train platform could turn into your biggest client: without handing over an impressive business card, you’ll never know.
Spend as much as you can on your business cards, as they are the very first impression you’ll give any potential client. Try using different sizes or textures such as Spot UV, too, so that your card (and brand) is memorable.
2. Offer A Free Talk At A Business Breakfast
Your local Business Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start when looking for local networking events.
Once you’ve been to a few, it’s time to offer your services! Yes, it’s for free: but it’ll land you clients. Several, if you do it right!
Offer to give a talk at an upcoming business networking lunch or session. It doesn’t have to be long: half an hour is the standard, sometimes even just fifteen minutes is all you’ll get.
Rather than spending this time selling your services, sell your knowledge instead. Show people how to do something, share industry insights, or address a problem that people have discussed in previous meetings that your company would be able to solve.
By sharing knowledge, instead of selling, people will see you as a valuable resource. This is a much better way to gather business leads, as your potential clients will feel like you’re not just out to make a quick buck.
3. Follow Up With Phone Calls
When you give your talk, or come back from a networking meeting, log all of the contact details from the business cards you collected.
Next, email all of them a quick note to say how pleasant it was to meet them, and make sure that your website is in your email signature! Once again, there’s no need to sell anything here.
From your new stack of business card contacts, pick the ones who you feel could turn into a new client or valuable business partnership. A few days after your initial email, pick up the phone and call them.
A phone call is far more personal, and it’s much harder to say no to someone on the phone compared to in an email! Working on the soft-sell approach, ask if you can set up a meeting with them to talk about [; INSERT extension of your conversation at the networking event here] in more detail.
4. Have Presentation Pitch Packs Ready
When you go to these meetings, be sure to have a presentation pitch ready. It’s like a media kit: it’s the easiest way to let people find out more about your company in their own time. They won’t feel pressured, but will be more likely to look at physical products than scour a website.
To make your presentation pack, choose branded folders and include well-designed brochures, an introductory letter, your business card, and a flyer or brochure of your products or services. It’s a neat way to get all of the information across without the ‘hard sell’.