Networking groups come in all shapes and sizes
There are many different types of networking groups. Some are structured while others aren’t. Some focus on exchanging referrals, while others don’t. I believe that different types of networking groups work well for different types of people. It’s simply about finding the networking group that’s right for your personality. (For some tips about what might be right for you, I recommend reading What’s your networking agenda? and the comments that follow it).
Once you find the right group, you’ll also find the most appropriate networking leads for your business.
Finding the golden nuggets
I only attend networking events sporadically, and I’m definitely NOT a skilled and knowledgeable networker. Even so, every time I attend a networking function I walk away with a priceless gold nugget, whether it be a piece of wisdom someone has kindly imparted, a warm feeling from sharing my own tips and expertise, the possibility of exploring a fruitful business relationship or – most precious of all – a rock solid lead.
Here’s an example of how a conversation at a networking function turned into a rock solid lead, and from there into a sale and a long-term business relationship.
Phase 1: During the event:
I met a lovely lady by the name of Noula at a networking event. She sold unique interchangeable shoes. I asked her all sorts of questions about them and she enjoyed talking about them. I just listened.
By listening, not only did I learn a lot about this awesome product (I knew my shoe-obsessed friends would be fascinated), but I also identified ways in which I could help her.
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Since the product was so innovative, I asked whether she’d received any press coverage in magazines or on television. When she replied that she thought that would be too expensive, my response was, ‘It’s actually as simple as a press release, which as a copywriter, I can write for you’.
She was interested. We exchanged business cards.
Phase 2: Immediately afterwards
After the networking event Noula and I emailed each other and signed up to each other’s newsletters. She explained that she was very keen to pursue the press release in the next month or so.
Phase 3: The following day
Noula contacted me and asked if she could have the press release sooner rather than later. The press release was written by the next day, and hopefully she’ll get some great media coverage from it. (At the time of writing, she already has interest from two travel publications).
From a seed to fruit
This particular networking lead quickly turned into a sale, but most importantly, the lead turned into a business relationship that will continue to grow and evolve for as long as both of us are in business.
This is just one example of how a networking lead evolved. But every single lead evolves uniquely, at a different pace and with a different result.
We can all learn from each other’s networking stories. So what’s yours?