Fiona Duncan-Steer, founder of RSViP Business Networking Agency, offers some ideas for successful online networking.
- Know your market – Identify your present audience and then ask yourself are they your perfect customer? If the response is no, then it is time to change your marketing strategy. Asking yourself some key questions in order to develop a profile of your ideal customer is a good place to start; where do they spend time? What geographical location are they located in? Are they family orientated? Do they have specific hobbies? This will give the basis and motivation to then seek them out, adapt your message toward them and bingo – watch them come to you!
- Be prepared – I could go into various preparation techniques, so here is a solid nugget: be the best version of YOU. This might come in many forms, but basically do anything you need to do to get into the right mindset for feeling your very best and looking your best, because first impressions count and then any other version of you simply will not be doing you or your brand justice.
- Set a target – If you prefer to just ‘turn up and see what happens’ serendipitously at networking events then I am actually all for this. Natural human behaviour allows us to to connect and uncontrived networking is often where the magic happens, however there's nothing wrong with having a loose strategy in position, and by this I mean know who you are looking to connect with (remember your perfect customer). Then create a ‘wish list’. A list of your top ten/twenty/thirty ideal companies or people who you want to work with and use this as part of your road map to finding them.
- Communicate creatively – I discuss this in depth A LOT and thus if I had to handpick a couple of ideas for you on this, I would say let the creativity flow with your conversation. In the words of Tony Robbins: “Successful people ask better questions and for that reason they get better answers.” Therefore will make you more memorable and build upon your reputation as a leader in your industry – yes all of this.
- Relationship management – We all know the worst kind of networkers are the ones whose sole goal is to ‘work the room’, hand out business card printing first before even speaking to you, treat the event like a competition as to who can talk to the most amount of people in the shortest period of time, try to sell ‘at’ you and expect to ‘land’ an offer on their first visit. Recognise these in yourself? It is time to improve your approach. I will say something and one thing only – take the time to get to know the person behind the company and allow others to get to know you also – authenticity is the key to relationship building.
- Follow-up, follow up – Keep the conversation going, again creatively by experimenting with different platforms of communication; met online in the first instance? Drop them a personal video message, send them something by post – establish your position in the relationship by showing initiative, effort, and care. Be more human.
- Enjoy it – Integrating business networking into your lifestyle will ensure it becomes easier and enjoyable. Choose events that attract your ideal customer and gravitate towards formats that suit your schedule and preference. Doing all of your research beforehand will minimise wasted time and disappointment, however do still make the most of the experiences that did not quite meet your expectations – you never know where they could lead.
For more tips about business networking online download my free E-book – https://rsvip.vipmembervault.com/products/courses/view/1033730