Editor’s Note: When we chose and wrote about this topic, the Covid-19 pandemic had not yet emerged. Obviously, the type of networking event this article covers is off-limits for many of us at this time. We have chosen to publish it, however, recognizing that our readers are all over the world, and some are in localities which are now beginning to open up to in-person gatherings. We hope this proves to be valuable information for you when that time comes where you are!
Since starting my business, I have had coaches and mentors tell me that if I want to grow my business, I need to take part in networking events! If you are a small business owner, you’ve no doubt heard that as well. And, if you are like many people, the thought of attending a networking event causes your heart to race and your palms to sweat! Here are 5 strategies your VA can manage to help you make an impression with networking. Doing so can help you focus on becoming a networking event superstar. You won’t need that cup of chamomile tea, lavender oil, or aspirin when you have a VA working by your side.
- Before the event, have your VA check your business cards, to make sure all the information is current. Now would be a good time to check the number of cards you have and, if you need a reorder, your VA can handle that as well. Bring your business cards to the event (yes, they are still VERY relevant and useful at in-person events)!
- If your event publishes an attendee list before the event; have your VA download the list and find 4-5 potential clients that are a good fit for your business. These are the people you should plan to speak with at the event. Have your VA connect with them on social media. A pre-event introduction can make the in-person connection much easier and less stressful.
- Practice your 30-second “Elevator Speech.” Keap has a great article that gives many solid examples of elevator speeches that work! Many Virtual Assistants specialize in content creation and business writing and can assist you in the creation of your speech.
Do not be “Salesy”
- While at a networking event, you want to be seen as a fellow “collaborator” rather than a salesperson. Ask questions and listen to see how you can help them, rather than what they can do for you.
- Instead of handing out your business card to every person you see, ask for THEIR card. This gesture will show them that you are genuinely interested in them and not simply pushing your services.
- Bring the collected cards back and have your VA enter them into your CRM system.
Do not monopolize the conversation – Ask questions and listen
- When you make a connection at a networking event, make sure to use their name when speaking to them. As Dale Carnegie suggests in his famous book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, “A person’s name…is the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
- Ask what THEY struggle with in their small business.
- Listen to their responses to see if there is something YOU can do for THEM.
- Be sure to take notes. When your notes are completed, send them to your VA for transcription.
Follow Up – Networking doesn’t end when the event does
- A sincere follow-up can build a stronger connection and a potential new client! There are programs like Send Out Cards that your VA can access, on your behalf, and send out to your new contacts.
- Send an email to all persons you made contact with, referencing your conversation. Again, this is a task that can easily be handled by your VA.
- Be genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember the person’s name and use it in conversation.
- Be a good listener.
- Talk in terms of other people’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important.
Meeting new people at networking events is tough; and you may feel way out of your “comfort zone”, but rest assured that it will get easier with practice. If you go into the event with a plan of action and practice the tips above while you are there, you will be a Networking STAR with a solid reputation in no time!
If you need help with your networking pre and post-work and would like to collaborate with a professional Virtual Assistant, IVAA offers a FREE RFP system for you. Simply post your VA needs and our members will reply to you with a proposal. Click here to learn about submitting an RFP
Karen Kannegiesser is the owner of Lotus Business Resources LLC. She helps heart-centered entrepreneurs and small business owners who are frustrated by having to run their business manually, and who struggle with trying to scale their business. She works with her clients by automating their business processes and by handling their digital media strategy and management, which enables them to work ON their business, instead of IN it!” www.LotusBusinessResources.com
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