Networking events have been the staple of business development for as long as we know, and for a good reason.
After all, attending local networking events is one of the best ways to start new relationships with new clients.
And in this post, we decided to share with you a couple of strategies to make the most of such events in your area.
By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly what to do to generate more business from networking events.
So, let’s begin.
Identify your goal for attending local networking events
First, you’ll need to identify the purpose and goal for why you want to attend a networking event.
And the logic behind it is simple – with it, you’ll be able to measure how successful you’ve been at the end of the event.
For example, our purpose for attending such event may be:
- Raising brand awareness,
- Connecting with leads or
- Generating sales or referrals.
Bryanne Lawless, Managing Partner at BLND Public Relations shares similar advice:
“When I attend a networking event, I prepare by having at least one goal in mind. Whether that goal is to find a potential new client, build a new business relationship with a potential partner…I always know that I am accomplishing something that will benefit me and my company.”
Once you’ve determined the purpose of attending, consider your goal for attending. That is, what’s the measurable element of your success at this networking event.
Let’s assume that your purpose for attending is to connect with more leads on behalf of your MSP company. And you know that there will be contacts interested in buying IT services at the event.
Now consider how many leads would be realistic to achieve by the end of the networking event. Perhaps gaining 10 leads is your end goal.
With 10 leads in mind, you can walk away from the networking event knowing whether or not you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
And so, when you show up with an end goal in mind, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Always stay outside of your comfort zone
If you’ve been attending local networking events for some time now, there’s no doubt you’ll recognize familiar faces wherever you go.
While it might be comfortable to chat with people you already know, this is precisely what you need to stop doing.
Recall your goal from earlier: To drive new interest and conversions to your company’s MSP services.
So, while building new relationships might not come second-nature to you, you need to meet new people to gain new business leads.
John White, Social Media Director at beBee states:
“If you network with the same people over and over again, you can expect to get the same results in your career.”
Branching out to meet new business leads or customers is never a bad idea. After all, it’s why you went to the networking event in the first place.
You can, however, leverage relationships with familiar contacts to gain introductions to new leads.
If you already have in mind who you’d like to meet at your next local event, it’s time to start preparing.
All you have to do is hop on LinkedIn and see whether or not you have shared connections also attending the same networking event. This way, when the day arrives, you know just who to approach to help make introductions.
Speak or present at a local networking event
Local networking events and meetup groups are always looking for speakers.
And there’s no better way for you to reach everyone at a networking event than by presenting.
Before speaking, o some research on a topic that’s valuable to your audience. This way, you’ll increase the chances of connecting with contacts of interest afterward.
But that’s not the most valuable element you could potentially gain from presenting.
Hosting a quick question and answer towards the end of your presentation might be one of the most valuable actions you can take as a speaker and here’s why:
- You can learn about the needs of your potential clients by listening to their questions.
- You can offer help to potential clients by answering their questions.
- You can introduce your MSP services where relevant.
- You can openly share your contact information.
Presenting valuable ideas to people with genuine interest is one of the most powerful ways to drive new interest and conversions for your MSP company.
What to do after a networking event
Getting some contact numbers and emails out of a local networking event is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you won their business.
To do this, you’ll need to do some follow-up work after the networking event.
Here’s what I suggest:
Right after the networking event, send your new contacts a message or email. It should include references to something you spoke about and your contact information.
Within a couple days of your first message, reach out to follow-up on whether they’re interested in your services. That is if they haven’t already.
It’s important to note that your follow-up communication should not be pushing a sales pitch. Instead, you’re looking to prompt your new contacts into taking the next step towards purchasing MSP services.
As Brittany Hodak, Co-Founder at ZinePak advises:
“When you follow-up, offer to add value where you can, whether it’s information, a connection or a recommendation.”
For instance, you might want to share a relevant MSP blog post with your new contacts. Then, offer to take any further questions they might have.
Remember, always aim to provide value after a networking event before prompting actions in return.
Consider networking to be the first step to nurturing long business relationships.
The quality of the connections you make will prove to be far more valuable than quantity. After all, building out a long list of contacts is pointless if these contacts don’t want to hear from you.
To make the most of your next networking event, make sure to have a goal in mind. Nothing is more discouraging than leaving an event empty-handed.
As is often the case, opportunities present themselves to those who prepare.
How will you prepare for your next local networking event?