How to Network Effectively with Katy Davies
There are so many different ways that we can grow our contacts so we can expand our business. But what are the different types, and how can you network effectively so you can get the best results?
I recently spoke with my friend Katy Davies on The Social Brain Podcast to discuss how to be an effective networker so you can increase your referrals and sales in your business.
Prefer to listen to the audio version of our conversation? Go here.
Including networking in your business strategy
The truth is, we can be networking without even realising it. If you’re a mum at the school gate and you’re chatting about what you do, you’re creating brand awareness. Katy thinks of it as creating connections with people.
During our conversation, Katy shared that when she started her first business nine years ago, she joined a networking organisation which really helped to propel her business forward. She was getting noticed and also built a support system of entrepreneurial friends.
Networking is an important part of your business and should be considered when creating your marketing strategy.
But you also need to be realistic about how you’re going to fit it into your business and make sure it’s a good use of your time in terms of the ROI you see from it.
Networking is only effective when you set clear intentions and show up with those intentions in mind.
When I started my business, someone recommended a business networking group to me and that networking group soon went on to account for 67% of my business.
Should you go to as many networking events as possible?
If your marketing strategy is focusing on brand awareness, then attending as many networking events as possible would be a good idea. If you have an amazing product but nobody knows about it and your aim is to get in front of as many people as possible, then go to every single meetup you can find!
Be mindful that if you’re going to all these events, you may not have the time to nurture all the new relationships you make more deeply. Relationships are going to be key to receiving referrals, having work passed onto you, and generating more sales.
If you’re more intent on creating long lasting relationships that lead to repeat sales, attending a smaller number of networking events on a more regular basis – and using your time and your energy more effectively – may be more beneficial to you.
What are the different types of networking for businesses?
Networking events no longer need to take place offline. You can attend online networking events from the comfort of your own home. Whether you network in person or online, here are a few of the different networking events to consider:
This helps with the brand awareness piece. Much like speed dating, the point is that you talk to as many people as possible during the time of the event. This is especially effective if you’re able to get your message across quickly and succinctly, so make sure you attend with a clear and concise elevator pitch to hand.
These are networking groups that you can join where you pay a monthly or annual membership fee. You go to the same event regularly to build good relationships with the members and get to know what they offer, too. You would normally be expected to contribute to the group in some way or another, perhaps with a presentation or by sharing testimonials and more information on the opportunities you have found in the room.
Informal, one off events
There are lots of informal one-off events or launch events that you can attend. It might even be a book launch or new store opening. These kinds of informal events typically operate on a pay as you go model, and sometimes they are even free.
Industry specific events
When Katy was in the wedding industry, if she was trying to connect with other wedding professionals, she would attend wedding industry specific networking events. For valuable introductions, go along to niche events that will be bound to attract your ideal audience.
Chatting with other parents at the school gate, talking with somebody in the queue at the checkout or speaking with your mum’s friend is a casual way to network without even realising you’re doing it. Never underestimate the power of conversation – you never know where that flippant comment might lead!
How do you prepare for networking events?
Before you attend a networking event, always do your research. Find out how the event is run, how it’s structured and what you can expect from the event.
And then set an intention for why I'm going and what you want to achieve from it. Sometimes it may just be that you want to get out of the house!
Think about who you’d like to meet. Is there something or someone you are looking for in particular? If so, how can you use your words to catch their attention? And what will be your process for following up with people? (After all, an effective networker understands that it’s not all about what happens in the room; the value often lies in what happens afterwards.)
Always have a pitch prepared that’s 1, 5 and 10 minutes long so you know exactly what you’re going to say in any circumstance. This will help you bring your intention to fruition. You can always tailor it to the event specifically or tweak it depending on who you’re talking to.
And always, always, always remember to end with a call to action. Ask people to follow you on Instagram, let them know your email address, or share how they can take the next step with you if they want to know more about what you do.
How to behave at networking events
Offline networking events
Some networking events are more structured and have a process that the host will follow to guide you and introduce you to others. There are also online events where you're put into smaller groups in breakout rooms and people tell you when to talk.
If you’re at an in-person event, it’s good to be the linchpin and introduce people to other people. This way, you won’t always have to be talking about yourself to stay memorable. People will always remember how you made them feel, so if you invited them into a conversation, they’ll be appreciative and will be more likely to warm to you.
If you’re a nervous person yourself, you may like to spot the other nervous person and go and talk to them. Make them feel welcome; make them feel included.
It’s also important to try not to talk to people you already know. It’s really easy to be drawn to your business bestie at an in-person event but always remember your intention for going: most of the time, you want to meet NEW people, and explore NEW opportunities!
Lastly, don’t just talk about yourself. A huge part of effective networking is asking other people questions with genuine interest. Engage in conversation and have a genuine desire to get to know the people who surround you. This can help with referrals and being introduced to others.
Online networking events
When it comes to online events, create a Word document with your contact details and your social media profiles that you can copy and paste into the chat. This will save you having to type it out each time.
Always remember to save the chat before you leave! Once you have other people’s information, you can use it to follow up with them after the event.
It’s also a good idea to be the person that takes control in the breakout rooms. The other members in that room will remember you as the leader and will often not want to take on that role themselves. Make sure you give everyone a chance to speak and make people feel welcome. This will help you stand out from everyone else.
How do you follow up with people after networking events?
After any networking event - in person or online - you want to make sure you follow up with the people you spoke to. This may look like following them on social media, sending an email or arranging a future conversation one on one.
This helps to build brand awareness and is also the start of you building a genuine relationship with them.
If you think there’s a synergy between the person you met and another person you know, ask them if it’s ok to put you in touch with them.
The best time to follow up is straight away. Remember, you went to the event with an intention to block out some time in your diary to follow through with that intention. You can create yourself an email template or you can tailor your messages to each person.
How to start your own networking event
Katy recommends always letting members know how the networking event is going to be run so that they have time to prepare for it beforehand. You also want to reiterate the schedule once everyone has joined the event so that people have a clear idea of what’s going to happen. This helps to put people at ease and allows them to plan their time so they can be more mindful and present (and, because of this, more effective).
Be mindful of your guests as they arrive, whether it be in person or online. You want to make people feel welcome and seen. Put people at ease right away and assume no-one has ever been before. When you treat everyone like they’ve been before, it may feel overwhelming to newcomers.
You also want to be conscious of how much time people are getting to talk. Make sure you’re moving people along and giving the floor to everyone who’s attended. If you’re hosting online, be aware that people who aren’t speaking have themselves muted.
Do you feel excited about the prospect of networking now? And do you feel confident that you’ve learned how to effectively network?
Katy is the Founder of Piece of Cake Coaching and a Strategy Coach for Solopreneurs who want to find the missing piece between where they are and where they want to be in their business. Katy helps her clients work ON their business so they can move forward in their business and spend more time doing what they love.
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