Many business relationships start online through social media these days, but the best of the media cannot be enjoyed without a synergy with the good old fashion networking scheme; turning up.
Clara has had thirteen years of a successful banking career. Here is what she has to say about turning up: ‘My 13 years of banking has been in the sales department. I guess if you are doing a good job of selling, no one would be willing to move you to other departments.
On my first day as a green intern, the head of marketing, a lady who has always met and exceeded every target set, asked us how we spent our weekends? I replied that I spent mine doing laundry and general cleaning, and then spent time with family. She smiled and remarked that if I want a successful career in banking, and most important, selling, I would need to change my routine and start turning up.’
Turning up means making appearances at events. Now, this is a timeless advise that works if you are looking forward to building relationships with investors, mentors, career peers etc. But you need to be strategic about this; you do not want to be turning up aimlessly at every event; essential and nonessential.
Here are some strategic steps you should take if you plan to build your network by attending events
Before the event
This journey does not start with events. In fact, it starts with the influencers, the potential investors and the mentors. Your research is to find out who these people are for your business. This is where social media comes handy. Follow these influencers on Twitter, examine their cause, and mind their likes and shares. This might sound like stalking and that is exactly how the game works. You should also comment on their posts where necessary, without being overbearing.
The next thing is to find out which events they will be making appearances. So go kit yourself up for the show.
During the event
Enjoy the event, have fun, but never forget why you are there. Work out the opportunity to meet with your potential mentor, investor or influencer. Remember you have already made an appearance through social media, now is the time to reinforce this attempt. Walk up to them, introduce yourself, be interested in them, ask questions and listen keenly. By now you should be familiar with issues that make them tick, after all, you have followed them passionately on social media. You should let this knowledge inform your questions.
Whatever you do, do not be overbearing. Do not detain them. If they want the conversation short and fast, so be it. But not before you have subtly made a pitch and exchanged contacts. You should also suggest an appointment at their convenience to discuss the fine points of your pitch.
After the event
This is when you follow up and prepare for any appointment you might have secured. It is better to delay sending LinkedIn invitations till after events. This timing sends the message that you are interested in the relationship. You should also send personalized business updates to these contacts. Remember their birthdays and anniversaries and in no time, you will be building an empire of your business. Because relationship is everything.