Marketing Corner: The Networking Toolbox
By Kimberly Alford Rice
As much as networking is used as a business development tool, few professionals treat it with the attention and follow up required to successfully develop new clients.
To maximize networking events, below are a few tips:
- Know who will be there. Whenever possible, call the event sponsor a day ahead to request a copy of the registration list to gather a sense of who will attend the function. Identify 3-5 prospects you would like to meet during the event and seek them out. Even better is if you can identify someone you know who will attend the event who already knows the prospect you will seek out. Gaining an introduction is a powerful way to make a connection. Consider posting a LinkedIn search.
- Prepare for an event by doing some online research on prospects’ companies and position affiliation to gain a sense of their business/place in organization, etc. The more you know, the better. Find out as much as possible about a company's clients, the scope of its business, whether or not the prospect serves in any official roles such as management committee, department chair, etc. Access LinkedIn, Facebook, Martindale, Law.com, Lexis, etc. for useful information.
- Never arrive late. Vince Lombardi said, "If you are 10 minutes early, you are late." When attending a networking event, the most critical time is the half hour of mingling before and after any planned program — you can't meet people during the speaker's presentation.
Networking is one of the foundations of client development (no network = no clients). You can’t get business if the right people don’t know, trust and like you. Commit yourself to gradually building a network of the right contacts. Begin by identifying the most likely sources of new business you are trying to develop — your "target audience."
In the next installment, we will examine how to position yourself for success by networking effectively.