Improve Your Online Networking

Written by Ian Preston
15th February 2021

Having been awarded the title ‘Networker of the Year’ a couple of times by my peers several years ago I wrote a blog about the art of successful networking. It turned out to be very popular, even more so when I added a list of ‘recommended’ events.

As physical live networking is still probably several months away, I thought maybe it was time to rework it for the online networking arena, especially I have been very successful in securing new clients from this source.

Networking is a great opportunity to meet new contacts and depending upon your line of work it should form a key part of your marketing strategy. However, with so many networking events around, how do you decide where you are going to go to and not go to, and do you know how to make a success of your networking so your time is well spent?

Here are my Top Ten ideas that might help:

1.       Will the right people be there?
Understand your target market and where those people are likely to hang out. You may have to kiss a few frogs first. I have stopped ‘going to’ a couple of events because people go just to tick a box to say they have been ‘networking’, without understanding why they are there.

2.       Attend consistently
Get known for what you do. Wherever I attend now I get regulars referring people to me particularly around using LinkedIn as a marketing resource and how to sell more effectively.

3.       Have an objective
Ask yourself why are you attending a particular event and what you hope to achieve? How can you measure if your being there was successful if you didn’t have an objective in the first place?

4.       Have a strategy
Know how to ‘work the room’. This may depend on whether there are breakout rooms or not.

  • Don’t log on thinking ‘What can I get out of this?’ But instead, to think: ‘What can I offer?’

  • Ask people they do. Show an interest in them

  • Help them first – “What’s your biggest challenge right now” or “I am sure if I knew    more about your business I think I might be able to refer some business to you”

  • Always follow up within 48 hours, including sending a LinkedIn connection request 😊

5.       Have your message ready
Have your 30/60 second intro rehearsed and ready. Help not sell! Ensure your message is full of WIIFT (What’s In It For Them!) and how you have helped others. I recently save a guy £600 whilst chatting to him for less that a minute. That’s powerful!

6.       Equipment
Ensure your Wi-Fi connection is the best it can be, even if it costs a bit extra. Invest in a good quality microphone and webcam. We now spend a lot of time at online meetings. It’s worth looking and sounding your best. You don’t want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons

7.       Are you ‘in the zone’
Really focus on listening. Are you really ‘in the room’ are or you doing other things?

8.       Offer to help
Court your network leaders. Ask them if you can help them in any way. Do they need a speaker sometime? You never know who they know.

9.       Identify the ‘Main Man/Woman’
This is really key, particularly if you are relatively new to networking and it can save you hours of time. There is usually someone who you will probably come across at the first couple of events you attend. They know where all the events are and which ones to go to and which to avoid. They might be a generous person who is happy to share what they know. In which case it is well worth picking their brain via a separate online 1 to 1 or buying them a cup of coffee or something similar when we can.

10.   Reflect
Look back on the event within 48 hours. Record what went well and what you would do differently next time to make your networking experience even better. Reflect on was it the best use of your time.

I hope you find this in some small useful. Even when we get back to normal and get back out there to ‘live’ networking events I still think online networking is here to say

All the Best

Ian

Ian J Preston
February 2021

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About Ian Preston

Ian is a leading Business Coach & Trainer and Keynote Speaker.

With over 25 years’ experience in sales, training and coaching, Ian’s passion is helping business owners discover better ways to do business. He is passionate about coaching individuals and companies to be better, whether it’s about using LinkedIn to generate more opportunities & sales, working in education to improve governing bodies or providing coaching to deliver stunning sales performance.

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