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6 Smart Marketing Tips to Increase Your Networking Results

Networking is how I built my business. Networking got me to where I am today (along with A LOT of hard work). Networking taught me the right way to do business, how to speak about my business, and how I wanted to show up.

I started my business when I was 25 years old. I had no idea what I was doing and when I walked into my very first networking event packed with professional business women, I was so nervous and scared! Joining networking groups helped me grow up as a business owner and grow my business. It has also yielded some of the strongest relationships I still have today. But there are things you need to know and understand to be successful at networking — and there are definitely wrong ways to network.

Here are six tips I have learned over the years that have helped me maximize my networking results and my marketing at networking events:

Networking Tip 1: Networking is NOT about selling yourself, your programs, or your services

Networking is NOT about you and what you’re going to get out if, it’s about starting conversations and building relationships. Those who go to a networking event with the goal to land 3 new clients, make 5 new sales, or give out at least 25 business cards don’t get it — and I am sure you can feel the selfishness of those people when you meet them. Networking is about starting conversations, asking questions, listening, getting to know people, and starting or building relationships.

Networking Tip 2: “I can’t afford live events” is an excuse

Live events are critical to your business growth and your growth as a business owner, and everyone can afford to go to live events. Claiming that you can’t afford to go to live events is just an excuse. It’s a glimpse into where your priorities are focused. I regularly witness business owners complain about not being able to afford to attend events that are priced around $75-$125 … That blows me away! Most of those same people spend the same amount on eating out in one week, double that on impulse purchased at Target, or triple that on Starbucks coffee in one month. In reality you can afford to go to the event, it just isn’t a priority.

Networking Tip 3: Local networking events yield a few ideal clients. The right live event can yield hundreds

Attending local networking events is one of the ways I built Bourn Creative from $0 to what it is today. Local networking events helped me gain confidence speaking about my business, helped me meet some of the most amazing business owners, and put me in touch with clients that I still have today. I am a big fan of networking in your local community — but at the same time, I like to get the most bang for my buck/effort/time, so I choose to also attend large conferences. You see, a local networking event may put you in touch with a couple ideal clients, but the right conference will surround you with hundreds of ideal clients.

Networking Tip 4: People will size you up before speaking to you. Show up the way you want to be perceived

When you attend a networking event, seminar, workshop, or conference, other attendees will size you up before the ever speak with you. Your appearance, eye contact and body language, business cards, confidence level, and even the way you speak to others send a message to the other attendees. Make sure you show up the way you want to be perceived. If you show up late and disheveled, what does that say about the kind of experience someone may have if they invest with you? If you spend the event complaining, do you really think successful people willow ant to be around you? If you hand someone a business card with your old phone scratched out and your new one written in by hand, what type of message are you sending about your brand?

Networking Tip 5: Get involved at a higher level to make an impact and increase your ROI!

If you really want to become a rockstar in your networking group, get involved! Join the leadership team, join a committee, spearhead a committee, plan an event, donate your products, or volunteer your specialty services or time. The more you get involved, the more impact you will make in the lives and business of others … and the more people will get to know you and your business. You’ll create stronger relationships, you gain more exposure for your brand, you’ll help more people, and you’ll be rewarded 10-fold.

Networking Tip 6: Follow up, follow up, follow up

Networking without follow up is like paying to meet new people and make friends. Now some people may need to invest in going to events to make new friends, but I’ll bet you go to networking events for business — to build relationships with other business owners, to meet new leads, and to meet vendors, businesses, and service providers you can do business with and support. A HUGE part of successful networking is following up with those you meet after the event. Be sure to send them a handwritten “great to meet you” note or follow up email, and always deliver on any promises you made, like connecting them with a resource or expert you know.

What about you? Do you have any additional networking tips? Have you tried one of these strategies and experienced success? If so, I’d love to hear about it below!

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Comments & Feedback:Check out what others have to say about this post!

  1. Jennifer, followup is key and I absolutely agree with everything you said. I also really like that you’ve mentioned getting involved as a committee member etc. Several of my clients (and myself too) have used this strategy and it has opened doors that would have taken years, or perhaps would have remained closed to them. However you really do have to deliver, and as you and I know so well, your actions have to be in alignment with who you really are, or none of these strategies will yield long term results. We’ve all met the great connectors and contributors, and it’s no coincidence they tend to enjoy long term success, vs. the flash in the pan. Great tips!

    • Sherri – Yes!! Getting involved and volunteering MUST be something that is in alignment with your own values … and I too have experienced the same thing … landing clients met through volunteerism that I would have never connected with otherwise.

  2. Jen: Why is it I find myself saying “AMEN!!!” to everything you write?!?!? I couldn’t have said this better myself. My favorite points are showing up with correct expectations, attending the right events and FOLLOWING UP! (My goodness… how much money is being left on the table because of this one!). One other thing, I’ll add is that networking is also about building partnerships. It was because of attending a live event that you and I met and look at all that we’ve accomplished over the years since and how we’ve helped each other to grow our business. I think people forget about this piece of building a business, but it’s a powerful benefit of networking that’s not to be overlooked. :)

    XOXO

    • Sydni – Exactly! Some of my best and most lucrative partnerships have come from people I first met at a conference or event. Sometimes it wasn’t apparent at the time, and the partnership unfolded at a later date.

  3. Another excellent article Jen…and so true. The biggest combination of truths to me are when you combine tip #1 with tip #6. Don’t attend an event with the intent to sell, but rather to get to know people and build relationships … and follow up! Again, not with the intent to sell, but with the intent to continue building the relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attended an event and while networking, been consistently “sold” to … and then followed up with more “buy my stuff” rather than “it was great to meet you.” My first impulse when the follow up is “buy my stuff,” is to hit the unsubscribe button and then delete.

  4. Oh Jennifer, you are a woman after my own heart. I know that we met at a local networking event several years ago and were blessed to grow a beautiful friendship and business relationship from it. I think networking is the best thing since sliced bread. I have found it is by far the best way for me to get clients, both with my CPA practice I sold and my new business as a Healer. I have to admit, my Kryptonite is probably follow up. But, I am getting much better at it!

    • Kristi – The more you get out there, the more people you meet, the m ore conversations you start, the more relationships you build … I too am forever grateful for what networking has done for my business and for the amazing friends it has given me.

  5. Jen
    I’m 4 out of 5! I’m getting into more live events as I grow and loving the connection at a higher level. I use to think there was something wrong with me for not shoving cards at people or leading with how I can sell them this or that – the truth is the more I give the more I’m remembered. I’m getting calls from people who heard about me or from someone who had enough info to register for a high ticket item based on the content of my site…woot woot!

    It works. Kel

  6. Nice summary. I do some of the same and I like your point about eye contact and business cards. When First starting out I did not appreciate the importance of the businesses card. How I learnt from that…

  7. Amy Kinnaird

    My personal favorite is volunteering for something, or taking on a leadership role. I am on the board for several organizations and it is a fantastic way to build depth in relationships.

    Also, it’s a good suggestion to try and connect people at a networking event.

    • Amy – Great Suggestion! By being the “connector” for other people you’re showing them that you care, that you remember them, and that you want to help. It also positions you as a valued resource.

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