Business Networking doesn’t begin when you arrive at the conference
Before leaving for an event, networking lunch or conference (see our pubcon seo conference post) have your goals outlined and script prepared. Know who you should contact and be ready to help them. Also, If you are at an event and are not professional there is a possibility that your bad antics will be video recorded and shared online. Always assume that video cameras are running at any event and don’t do anything you wouldn’t want taped.
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Creating a solid network of individuals in your sphere of influence will help you be successful in the long term. This is a six step process to creating a quality network of people willing to help you.
Meet Face to Face
When meeting people at an event, you develop an impression about the kind of person they are and what the best type of relationship you should develop with them. In person meetings allow you to share non verbal communication in a way that email cannot.
Meeting in online social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace does not generate the same kind of connection. Many people use social media to generate the first point of contact, but these tools are much better suited for followup and relationship management.
When making connections online, call them to establish rapport. Talking makes a better impression than email and is much longer lasting.
Networking is a pay it forward opportunity where you give back before receiving. A closed fist receives no money, and it is after providing a helping hand that people will go out of their way to help you
Business networking is a chance to connect with others and learn about them and their needs; and then figure out how you might be able to help them. Now in order for you to be able to come through, you need to listen to what the other person says. During a conversation, the other party often shares personal details with you.
Look for some common grounds based on your experience and history. Connect, promise assistance, and deliver on your promises.
After investing time, energy and money to attend an event following up is the most important action.
The business networking process has 3 major steps: Pre-Networking Planning/Goal Setting, Networking, and Following up.
For best results, be diligent throughout the whole process. Follow up and connect with the people you meet at an event in an unobtrusive manner. Reach out to them within 24-48 hours by phone or email, plan a short gathering for coffee or lunch, and be ready to learn more about the individual and the professional.
This is the next step to take the relationship beyond just having them as one of your connections in your contact manager.
Everyone needs help with something, and if you can offer your expert assistance in time of need, your contacts will not forget this.
By proactively offering assistance you become the default go to person for the next project.
After following up by phone and possibly a brief meeting, find a way to keep in touch and on their radar. Facebook and LinkedIn are invaluable to maintain these connections.
Be active in updating your status while checking your connections’ status updates, links, blogs, announcements… interact with them, comment on their blogs, send relevant information and offer helpful suggestions.
Periodically go through the list of your connections and update the information. Reevaluate what kind of relationship you wish to have, their potential, and how much time and energy to invest.
At this step you will know which connections will have the most impact on your business.
Remember to go into relationships with an open hand. What are tips that have helped you build your network?
We just got back from the 3rd social networking group Twiistup, held at the Air Conditioned Club in Venice, Los Angeles. Twiistup is a for technology focused networking group that lets startups, web 2.0 companies and tech firms mingle and display their businesses. It was a very fun event, and I made some good connections and talked to many dedicated and passionate business owners.
We don’t have the luxury of the Silicon Valley uber networking community like Tech Crunch 40, but this kind of event makes up for it. Heavy on the social, with lots of entertainment, including an appearance by Perez Hilton who gave away a copy of the video game Rock Band (which no one seemed to have heard about)
Here are some of the web companies i talked with. If I missed you please
magentocommerce.com open source shopping cart software. I have to say this looks like an order of magnitude better than oscommerce.com and will be the php cart to beat once it is out of beta.
Speeddate.com – I met Dan the CEO who said he started Speed Date right after graduating from Stanford University. He wanted to escape the real world and create a tech startup Silicon Valley style. Online dating is definitely a good niche to enter and the combination of instant video chat in a safe environment should be a winner. No current monetization on this site, kudos to them for having a no ad site.
Thembid.com – Elmer is the owner of Them Bid and he is very animated when talking about his company. It’s clear he loves what he does and is very involved in social media, including being a figg top 100 user! Elmer described his business as Craigslist.org meets ebay.com on priceline.com where you list products and services for free and people bid on them. Want to sell your 1980 toyota? List it and let people name their price for your car. This should work well once the site has significant traffic. I created my profile and love the free directory listing (to activate this you must select your business category in the profile section)
RubiconProject.com – There was a swarm of people around this booth all night so it was hard to talk to the founders but this statup company has huge momentum and is getting a lot of attention in the online publishing world. This web service uses algorithms to automatically optimize ad serving to website visitors. From their site “First, our system gets the ad impression from the publisher, analyzes it and then selects ad networks based on their strengths. Then, the ad impression is redirected to your system to serve the ad to the visitor. So, nothing changes, it’s just like working with any other publisher.”
toolstolife.com is an online coaching service by Devlyn Steele. I’m usually not a fan of online self help services, but this one is well done, free and has no advertising. I asked Delvyn how he could devote so many resources to a free service and he said it’s his passion to help people. Hard to argue with that, I’m signing up to test it out.
One thing that struck me is that none of these web companies I talked with had advertising. They only spent money and didn’t make any. I sincerely hope this pays off for them because these seem like great companies and all have something positive to offer the world.