Tiny Changes = Big Rewards: Ninja Networking Know-How for Modern Business
We all know that one person who couldn't care less about creating connections and just wants to put their card into the hand of every person in the room. I’m sure you are a savvy business networker and understand that isn’t how true networking works.
It can feel intimidating to face a room filled with potential partners or clients and wonder how to make the most of the event. Well, in this article, I’m giving you some easy, practical ninja tips to put you way ahead of the game. Just follow this simple 3-step process.
NINJA TIP #1 - The Pre-Event Process
Do you have regular groups or events to attend? You can set yourself ahead of the pack with one simple process.
Inspect the event’s invitation page to uncover a few key pieces of information:
1) The event coordinators
2) The primary presenter (s)
3) Other guests who are attending.
Your goal is to meet the coordinators, presenters and any guests you would like to know better. Select 2-7, but no more.
How, you ask?
Head over to LinkedIn and find the people with whom you want to connect. [Savvy business professionals have a tricked out LinkedIn account profile. If you don’t, we can help you with that.] If they aren’t located there, I’ll have some more tips for you at the end of this section.
Scroll through their posts and like or comment on one or two. Not too many, because you don’t want to appear to be a stalker!
Send them a connection request with a personal message something like this:
“Hello Magnificent Presenter. (Use their actual name here, okay? This is just for reference.) I just learned you are the featured speaker at the ‘Take It To the Next Level Seminar’ (again, your event name). It would be great to connect with you here on ‘social media platform or other name’, and I hope to meet you in person afterwards. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to help spread the word about your ‘topic’, please tell me...
All the best,
(your name here)”
“Hello Crafty Coordinator. I just registered for the ‘Take It To the Next Level Seminar’. It would be great to connect with you here on ‘social media platform or other name’. I look forward to attending and hope to meet you in person during the event. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to help spread the word about the ‘seminar’, please tell me...
All the best,
(your name here)”
“Hello Suzy. (Use their actual name here, okay? This is just for reference.) I just learned we are both attending the ‘Take It To the Next Level Seminar’ (again, your event name). It would be great to connect with you here on ‘social media platform or other name’. I notice we are both involved with ‘teaching technical terms to people who hate technology’. I hope to meet you in person during the event so I can learn more about your unique approach.
All the best,
(your name here)”
Once you have made the personal connection, remember to check your inbox for replies. Once they have accepted your connection request, thank them. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SPAM THEM WITH YOUR PROJECT OR PROGRAM. You want to make a genuine connection that will benefit both of you.
Continue to like and comment on their posts. Twice a week is more than enough. Remember, no stalker behavior.
WHAT IF THEY AREN’T ON LINKEDIN?
Your organization might do more business through Facebook events, Meetup or Eventbrite or a specialized hub. The process is the same. Use the messaging opportunities your platform provides. If there isn’t a way to use the platform to reach to these three groups of people (for instance, you received an email from an organization that leads to a web page) do some Google research. Invest the time to discover where these key people hang out on Social Media and connect with them there.
It takes a bit of extra time, but will provide incredible returns.
A special COVID/virtual related message: I know that in the back of the minds of some might read thinking, "This is all fine and good WHEN WE'RE MEETING IN PERSON, BUT HOW ABOUT RIGHT NOW WHEN EVERYTHING IS VIRTUAL?" All of this is relevant, it just needs to be tweaked. And for those that aren't comfortable networking at events, virtual event networking could be way more comfortable for you!
NINJA TIP #2 - The Event Process
Here’s where your pre-work pays off. In a room filled with strangers, you are now a known entity.
At the registration desk, you’ll discover a coordinator or two hovering. This is your opportunity to say:
“Oh hello Crafty Coordinator! I’m Nancy Ninja! It is wonderful to meet you face-to-face. You (AND YOUR TEAM) have done a wonderful job putting this together. I’m looking forward to the rest of the event.”
If the coordinator isn’t around, mention to the team working the registration station you had told Crafty Coordinator you would say hi and ask them to direct you to them.
THIS IS IMPORTANT, the coordinators are BUSY. You don’t want to dominate their time. All you want to do is say hello and thank them for the work they’ve done to create the event. After you’ve done this, MOVE ALONG.
EVENT SPEAKER TIPS:
You want to move delicately. You don’t want to come off like a fangirl, but you want to show genuine appreciation.
If the speaker is available before the event, follow the same strategies as meeting the Coordinator. Quick introduction and expression of appreciation.
If the speaker is only available after the event, again, do not dominate their time. Introduce yourself, express your appreciation of the presentation.
EVENT PARTICIPANT TIPS:
As you move through the room, look people in the eye, smile, and be friendly. Keep your eyes and ears open for conversations you can engage in. More than anything, you’re looking for those 2-7 attendees you connected with prior to the event. These are the people you want to spend the most time talking with to see if you can create a true networking relationship. It’s all about mutual benefit. Find out how you can help THEM locate their ideal client or partner. When you do this, you become a resource of information. If possible, schedule an after event to get together for coffee or a Zoom call to deepen the relationship.
Here’s the thing, you attempted to create connection with the speaker, the coordinators, and participants in advance. Even if they are busy or involved with other conversations, they will take an extra moment or two to engage with you. This gives you an edge over and above every other person vying for their attention. You aren’t a face in the crowd. You are someone who went the extra mile to sign up, show up, and speak up. This positions you as a professional who means business and keeps her word. This is an invaluable commodity in today’s business world.
For virtual events: Instead of finding the coordinator, speaker, or participant in a sea of people, you can private message them on the virtual platform, ask questions and be engaged during the virtual training (coordinators and speakers are craving engagement and feedback right now).
NINJA TIP #3 - Post-Event Process
THE PERSONAL TOUCH:
Step 1: Send a private message through the platform where you connected. Thank them for the time they gave to you at the event, and one or two specific things you appreciated.
Step 2: Could you get a mailing address for the people you met? Send them a hand-written “thank you” note through snail mail. Again, include a personal insight you received. If you weren’t able to get the address, do some more investigating of their website, etc.
Step 3: If you promised to make a phone call - do it within 36 hours of returning to your business office.
It’s time to take your praise public. On the event or meeting page if available, (and if not) on the personal profile of the coordinators and speaker (s), congratulate them on the outstanding job they did at the event. Share one or two items that affected you. This is free publicity for them, and they will appreciate your input and effort.
PASS IT ON:
Who would benefit from meeting the people you connected with at the event? If possible, introduce them.
Are you acquainted with other event coordinators? It would thrill the speaker for an opportunity to meet them. Do you have connections other speakers? Event coordinators are always looking for quality presenters. Did the new person you meet mention a need for a bookkeeper, accountant or plumber? Who could meet their needs?
When you become a resource, you become top of mind.
For virtual events: All of the above regarding post-event is applicable. As I mentioned, coordinators and speakers are craving feedback on the event, content and process as they adapt to online platforms. Send them an email afterwards telling them what your biggest take away was and what went well. When appropriate, request a short Zoom call. With the inconvenience of traveling for coffee off the table for many, it's easier to get a yes from someone whose day is usually filled with going here and there.
WHY GO TO ALL THIS EFFORT?
Think about the stack of business cards on your desk or filed away. What about your email or phone contacts? Do you know each one?
Consider the LinkedIn, Facebook or other Social Media connections you have. How many of these are true networking partners? Could you recommend them? Would they even think of you if someone needed your expertise?
More than ever it is important to create connection in the marketplace. With scammers on the rise, and spam filling our InMail, Messenger and email, it is harder to know who is a legitimate connection or someone looking for an opportunity to take.
The potential power of your personal connections will explode if you invest more time before each event you attend in the next 12 months. And, whether these events are virtual, or in person, the same concepts apply.
We’d love to hear from you. If you have questions, insight, or personal experience testimonies, please reach back to us.