Networking isn’t just for LinkedIn. It’s a fact networking face to face in person is still more powerful than any other networking or social media platform can ever be. Being aware of what is going on in your community is much different than actually being involved in it.
The Harvard Business Review posted an article: 99% of Networking is a Waste of Time. In this article, the author talks with a highly influential Rich Stromback, who is a technology investor, former pro hockey player and has been called the unofficial expert on the Davos party scene. So what on earth is Davos and what does it have to do with me.
The truth is nothing…Davos is a yearly economic summit held in Davos, Switzerland. It is full of high rollers and very influential people. So this is where we can take some high-level information and make it useful to the rest of the world. According to Stromback, it is not the networking events, or the forums that are of the highest value for networking, but the party…
At the party is when people are ready to talk and have real conversations. This is the key to networking. In other words, stop networking and start having conversations. You need to be yourself, and let the conversation flow. This is the true key to networking.
So now the question is, how do you network, to network in a more valuable way and stop wasting 99% of your time? The answer to that question will depend on why you are networking. Most of us do it in order to build relationships with people that we are interested in doing business with right? Or maybe you are looking to gain knowledge in a certain area or find influencers in your community?
As a cleaning company, one high-value place too network is going to be your local Realtor Board. Realtors sell houses, people buy and sell houses, and when people move they house needs to be cleaned right. Indeed, but here is the thing about Realtors there are a lot of them. They also come out of the woodwork at an alarming rate. So you really want to focus on seasoned high-quality Realtors. So this is how I go about it:
Join your local Realtor association as an affiliate member, generally under $200 a year and well worth it if you do this right.
Get in touch with the education director at your Realtor association. They will be your primary contact for sponsoring events.
Research the available classes and target seasoned Realtors.
So here is a quick example of what to look for:
The big guys, like title companies, will generally sponsor these: New Member Orientation (this is for brand new Realtors, but the time they sell a house, they will have forgotten who you are). So this is a skip it.
Anything to do with Brokers, take the sponsorship. If they are brokers, or about to become brokers they have been in the biz for at a minimum 2 years, it varies state by state, in Texas for example they just changed it to 4. These are the folks that are in it for the long haul, and totally worth connecting with.
If you are ever in doubt the folks in the education department should be able to answer your questions, and on that note, you want to make the education department your friends as well. They can prove to be very valuable allies.
So now you have an idea of who to network with, but how do you go about networking your networking to make it more valuable?
Here is what has worked for me:
The standard for the meetings is that you will sign up as a snack break partner. I like to sign up for smaller classes, ones that will have an estimate of about 30-60 attendees. The number of attendees will be announced a couple of days beforehand. You will be providing a snack for the attendees and in turn will be able to pass out marketing materials and speak for approximately 3 minutes. I think this is standard across the board, but then again ask the education department what they expect of you. I like to sign up for a mid-morning slot when possible, brains are awake, but not worn out from a long day of seminars.
This is when having an elevator speech comes in handy. You will want to keep is short so that the attendees have plenty of time to get up have a break, and also be able to ask you questions. It is the face to face interactions that truly close the sale. The entire event rarely takes more than 15 minutes. I rarely take up the whole bit of time that is allowed, so that the attendees have plenty of time to take a break and actually talk with us. We have been known to book clients on the spot.
Elevator speech example:
Hi my name is Kyra and this is Juan! We are with the Boardwalk Cleaning Co. We are your one stop shop for all your residential cleaning needs. We all know a home that sparkles will sell faster than one with clutter. Now, why would you refer someone that you have never used before? Well, that is exactly why we offer you 20% off cleaning of your personal residence. I will let you all get up and take your break.. we will be here to answer any questions you have.
I really keep it quick and simple, if the class of the day is about something that I have knowledge on I try to add a bit in to make it relevant to the day. As one person is speaking the other is passing out business materials. This can be done alone as well. So if you don’t have a helper don’t let that stop you. You can always put your materials on a table in an orderly fashion, or ask for a helper from the education department.
If you need an example of the presentation materials I have put one together here for ideas: BCC Presentation Folders
So the final thing that you will want to do is follow up. In general within a couple of days you will get a spreadsheet with the names, and email addresses of all the attendees. This is a chance to say thanks, and nice to meet you.
Here is one quick email example:
It was really great to meet you at the [such and such class] on [day]. I just wanted to zip you this email so that you have my contact information on file.
If you have any questions about our services, or just a general question about cleaning we are here for you.
Have a great day and happy selling.
You can also use a similar strategy to attend meetings at your local chamber of commerce. I have heard people rave about the BNI, but it was not for me. It felt to salesy…but you can also search in Meet Up’s they have a ton of information on local area events for networking.
Alrighty, you should be read and armed to unnetwork your next network event. Just remember, be yourself and smile.