Getting your message out and being noticed for your products and services can be challenging. You want people to contact you when they need what you have to offer. Besides advertising, people might remember you from a networking event. That means you need to be remembered. What can you do to impress them enough that they will remember you? Will they think positive about that encounter? Did they get your information?
Oh, that is right. You didn’t want to pass them your card because they didn’t ask. You didn’t want to sound like the pushy sales type. And you don’t want to go around handing out business cards without giving any small talk as if you were on the prowl! That type of networker is more of a disease. As Mother Teresa would say, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” So now what?
People won’t do business with you if they don’t remember who you are (or remember you in the wrong way). They won’t do business if they don’t know how to contact you! You may need to network better.
Networking offers you the chance to meet and impress, it offers you the chance to qualify if the person you meet is someone you want to know and do business with, it offers you the chance to grow that relationship into opportunity.
That said, it should be obvious – networking is not about handing out business cards! But business cards can play an important role in your networking. More and more, you need to think about marketing strategy.
Your strategic plan in networking should start with going to events where you can meet your ideal customers or people who have connections with your ideal customers. Referral marketing can be an important strategy for your marketing plan. As you meet people, determine if you want to know the person more and be able to connect with them further. What is your impression of the person? Can you help to connect them with others? Is this a person you would want to refer?
A next step in your strategic plan is following up with those you network with. Do you want to stay in contacted with the person? Have a strategy to get the business cards from those people you have impressed and qualified, and who in return have impressed you. Once you have gotten to the point where you feel you both can help the other, pass the business card. Ask! Make it a natural part of your conversation. Find out how you can help them and then ask for their business card.
Now that you have their business card, you need to make that business card important during the short time that person will remember you until the next encounter. But how can you make the business card important? If you wait too long they won’t remember you. For them to have your business card might not matter after an event where they have several cards. You have to make it matter!
When you get a person’s card, arrange to follow-up by calling, meeting, or some other form of communication. After the encounter don’t wait too long to do some research. Check to see what information is on the card. Websites are important for sources of information. Visit it to learn more about the person. The website might help to remind you about something they said. Share a message with them that lets them know you are interested in what they do and offer to help. Remind them of the follow-up plans you made.
Another marketing strategy for follow-up is to connect with them on social media. More and more people are including their social media links on their business cards. Otherwise they might have the links on a website. LinkedIn is a great example of a social media platform that helps you share your ideas and information with a specific person without being intrusive. No one wants the sales hype. But imagine having a network that sees your posts on a regular basis. In your posts, you can share what you are working on and provide information that reaffirms you as the expert.
The more you are in front of people, the better networking potential there is for you to do business. People like to refer business to people they know and trust. Your business card helps to provide contact information. It’s marketing value is in the information it provides. If you stay in touch with them, the more potential there is that they will want to stay in touch with you. As the relationship grows, your contact information on a business card becomes more important.