Ep 136 | Tips for Networking With Ease

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It can be awkward showing up at networking events not knowing what you should be doing and how you should talk to people. In this episode, I share with you some simple tips that you can use to show up, network, make some connections, and continue to nurture those relationships and see what happens.

What you will hear in this episode

Tips for maneuvering through networking events
→  The best way to follow up with potential donors
Ways to build meaningful relationships with people
Mentoring other organizations that are below you

Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways

[02:56] Looking at the guest list ahead of the event. It helps you understand the people there and the ones you want to try to have conversations with. You will walk into the room knowing the people you want to talk to.
[03:25] Listening more than speaking. Listening is going to do a lot of great things for you. If you show interest in people’s organizations, they are going to remember that. It is also going to open the doors for future conversations.
[04:20] Asking questions. It gives you valuable information that will help you figure out the best ones for you. It also allows you to feel a little bit relaxed.
[05:51] Reach out to people you know that will be at the event ahead of time for connections. It helps you feel more comfortable when showing up because you know you are going to be introduced. It also makes your friend feel like a hero and the other person special because they already know they can trust your friend.
[07:22] A plan for following up with the donors. Reach out to the people 24 to 48 hours after the event because people are very busy and might forget that you met when you stay longer. Also, make it personal as you speak to them.

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey there, welcome to another episode of The Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm Sammy Bedell Mulhern, your host, and today we're talking about networking. I am getting out there more, we moved to Minneapolis, we're trying to network and get to know more people. And it can be awkward showing up at a location, not really knowing what it is that you should be doing. How should you talk to people, you might show up at a conference anyway, all of the things. So today, I'm going to give you some simple tips that you can use to show up your network, make some connections and continue to nurture those relationships, and see what happens. And can they turn into major donors or sponsors? Is there a corporate entity looking to participate in your event, all of the things, but it starts with one simple conversation. And that is the power of networking. So that is what we're going to talk about today. 

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our office hours, our nonprofit, digital marketing therapy sessions. It is 2022. I can't believe that I'm saying that you might be going into the year ready to go but nervous about how to take action on certain things. So that's what these office hours are geared towards, you can go to thefirstclick.net/officehours, book your time with me, and let's tackle these goals that you have. And make sure that you're doing the right activities to get them done. Like all the things that aren't going to matter, that isn’t going to get you there. And let's focus on the things that are going to get it done. So again, the firstclick.net/officehours, I look forward to getting to know more about you and your organization. Let's get into the episode. 

[INTRO] You're listening to The Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So networking events can look like a lot of different things. So it could be that you're showing up at a chamber of commerce mixer, it could be any other membership that you're a part of that you are there for an event, maybe you've been asked to speak out of BNI, or at a rotary club meeting. Maybe it's just a local coffee shop and you happen to run into some people, or you're at a conference and you know that there are certain people that you want to meet and connect with. Networking can look like so many different things. And really all it is is a conversation with someone else. But we get in our own heads about what that looks like and walk into a room of strangers and feeling like oh my gosh, how am I going to maneuver through this? What am I going to do? So I have a few tips to share with you that will hopefully make this a little less stressful and a little more effective for you. 

So the first thing is if it is an event that you know there's a guest list for, take a look at that list ahead of time, get yourself prepped, understand who are the people that are there that you want to talk to? Who do you want to try to have a conversation with? That way when you walk into the room, you know, you have a place to go, you know you have somebody you're trying to seek out and you're prepped with questions and conversation starters, you don't have to be all nervous about the small talk. The second thing that I'll say is when we show up to these events, the goal is not to sell pitch and get a close deal or a donation, for our organization, the goal is to start a conversation. So we want to make sure we listen more than we speak. And listening is going to do a lot of great things for you. Number one, if you're asking a lot of questions about somebody else's organization, if you show an interest in their business, they're going to remember that and they're going to be excited that you were thoughtful and inquisitive about what it is that they do that you cared about them that you weren't the pushy person just trying to push all the things that you have going on in your organization on them or making an ask, it's going to open the door for future conversation. And that's where the beauty lies, those future conversations that you could have to learn more. 

Asking questions is also going to give you valuable information. So it's going to tell you what they're interested in, it's going to give you information about their family, their work-life, what is it that they're passionate about? Because then you can take that back and say, Okay, well based on what it is that we do, this is going to be the perfect fit for them or that's going to be the perfect fit for them. As opposed to just kind of shooting in the dark and not really knowing what's going on. It also allows you to just be a little bit more relaxed. You walk into the room, you know, your goal is to ask a bunch of questions. Just get to know a bunch of people. You're taking the pressure off of pitching yourself and pitching your organization and then you're just there to listen and learn. Now you might automatically say well That's not going to get me to my goals or my fundraising goals, or my boss is going to say, Well, that was a waste of time. But really, you're just there, engaging with people and having conversations, that means something. And those who can go a long way in the future will also say that you want to make sure before you show up that you have a plan for how you're going to follow up with them. 

So that you know, okay, if they give me a business card, I'm going to write down real quick you know, once that conversations over a couple of quick notes, or I've got a notebook, or I'm going to, you know, try to jot things down, taking those notes as soon as possible is going to be critical, so that you remember them. Now, the other great tip that I have is, if you already know maybe one or two people that are going to be at the event that you feel comfortable with, maybe reach out to them ahead of time and say, Hey, I'd really like to meet people like this. I'm looking for connections with business owners that are interested in adoption, maybe pet stores or dog training facilities or doggy, daycares, whatever it might be dog grooming, right? Do you know of anybody that's going to be there that you can introduce me to? So asking for those introductions ahead of time. So then when you come in, you know, you can go to the person that you already feel comfortable with and say, Hey, and they can immediately say, hey, I want to introduce you to my friend, Jim, over here, he runs this dog grooming facility, I think there might be some really great synergy here, maybe you guys could have a good conversation. This does a couple of great things.  

Number one, it helps you feel more comfortable, when you're showing up, you know, you're going to be introduced, you know, you're not going to have to be just standing in the room, wondering who to talk to and what to do. And then also, it makes your friend feel like a hero, right? Like they get to introduce you to somebody they know someone it's like they're making a connection. So it makes them feel like kind of a bigwig at the event, which is also great. And then it's also going to make the other person feel special because they already know like and trust your friend. So they're introducing them to you, then they're probably somebody worth having a conversation with. So it gets you in the door in a little bit of a warmer fashion. So a great way to prep before you go to these events to ease the stress all around. 

Now, I already mentioned follow-up. And this is really important. So once the event is over, it's not enough to just say, hey, yeah, let's get something on the calendar. If you can get something on the calendar while you're there. That's even better. If you can say, hey, let's grab coffee next Tuesday. Are you available? Perfect. I think that's great. Definitely want to strive for things like that. But regardless, you want to make sure that you have a plan at least 24 to 48 hours after the event to reach out to the people that you felt were great fits for you. And mentioned Hey, it was so great meeting you at the Chamber event. Yesterday, I really enjoyed our conversation and insert something right that they said like I really enjoyed your take on the different products that you use for your grooming studio because we really feel passionate about making sure that our pets are using high-quality products as well. I'd love to sit down and talk with you a little bit more about that, do you have time, right. So you're making it personal. And the key to 24 to 48 hours is you know we're all busy, we all have a lot of things going on. So I want to hit them while they still remember what happened at the event. And while they still remember you. Because we know you're memorable. But there's a lot of things going on. And we want to make sure that people remember where they met you, what the event was and what it was that you talked about. 

So follow up. And then the other piece that I'm going to say about follow-up is you do not need to hit up everyone. This isn't a gunshot approach, we do not need to reach out to every single person that we met, because we really take the time and effort to reach out to the folks that you made the best connections with that you felt were going to be the best connection for your organization. And then make the best fit with the rest of the folks you can absolutely reach out to, you know, the next week or whatever. And just say it was a great meeting. You would love to connect a little bit more and get to know you more, that's totally fine. But let's focus on the strong connections first, and get that out and get that going and get those conversations rocking and rolling. 

Now, I want to emphasize again, that it's not about making the ask this is about getting to know people. This is about building relationships. This is about building long-term strategies because there are a few things. You never know who someone knows, they might not be the right fit for you necessarily after your initial conversation. So maybe you meet with the dog groomer. And they're like, You know what, we're just not able to participate or sponsor but we have a great connection with product X, who we use all the time and they've been looking for somebody like you guys to partner with. Right? So you already know there's a good fit between the two of you. And because of that, they're going to be more willing to connect you to some of their partners, friends, family, other businesses, who knows what, so you never know who people are going to know. And you never know what that relationship is going to look like in the short- term. 

And so just having a conversation, just getting to know people, sets you apart from the crowd, and allows you to just build meaningful relationships that can carry you forward for the days, weeks, months, years to come. Now, I'm not trying to say that you need to go to a ton of networking events in order to try to build this huge base, and then meet all these people, and then hope that something happens, right? That's not what I'm suggesting. Instead, let's target those events to things that make the most sense for your organization. So maybe you have looked at your chamber list and you know that it's full of businesses that you want to target and you're locally based, maybe you know that you need to reach a wider audience and you found a couple of conferences, that makes sense. So now you're going to go to a couple of conferences, and you're going to have conversations and connections with some larger organizations and companies. Or maybe you're just even going to go and talk to some organizations that are a few steps ahead of you so that you can learn what they're doing. And increase your strategies and change in development and grow. Maybe you are trying to mentor other organizations that are coming up below you, which is also great. And then you can have conversations with them at events and ask them how you can help them grow. 

So we all have different reasons for why we're going to networking events. So understanding that and figuring out how you can best use them to your advantage and also to support them, we want to give as much as we receive. So how can you also have conversations with folks to share your knowledge with them, and get them to feel like it's a win-win scenario. So those are some of my tips for showing up to a networking event and feeling a little bit more comfortable. Prep and plan know who you want to talk to and ask for introductions, have some questions prepped and ready to go listen more than you speak, and then follow up. The fortune is in the follow-up. 

I hope this was helpful. I am so excited that we are now on YouTube as well. So if you want to watch these on YouTube, you can head on over to thefirstclick.net/YouTube. Check us out, we have a lot of our past episodes as well. I am so excited to have the videos here for you so that you could see me. I wish I could see you but at this point, just not the way that it works. Anyway, I hope that you subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on a single episode and I'm so excited to be kicking off 2022 with you!

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