Can you run a successful business without Face 2 Face networking meetings?
Last week I attended my 1st face 2 face networking event since March 2020.
It was a well organised event with about 25-30 people there.
But anxiety got the better of me.
Normally I’d do that thing they call “working the room” and meeting lots of new people.
Instead, I stood at the quietest side of the room and didn’t get involved like normal.
I felt like teenage introverted Alex and I don’t know when I’ll start to feel normal again around crowds of people.
Everyone else in the room seemed to cope with it perfectly.
I know social media and referrals drive a lot of my business – but so does Face 2 Face networking.
I worry that if I can’t do Face 2 Face networking properly it will affect my business.
Anyone else feel the same?
I’ve been thinking deeply about this ever since the event and whether there are any alternatives to networking events. Ideas and help for those that are in the same situation as myself.
Here are some alternatives to networking events
121 MEETINGS WITH EXISTING CONTACTS / REFERRAL PARTNERS
I feel more at home at rock & roll gigs after Covid than I do networking
I take each gig on a case-by-case basis as to whether I wear a mask (I’ve been to 5 gigs this month)
But I’m trying to assess why I feel safer and I’ve pinned it down to 2 things
– I only chat to the person who I’ve seen most of the pandemic
– Everyone is facing the same way (rather than you leaning in close to someone new to hear what they’re saying at networking)
I don’t have any issues with meeting people, talking to people.
It’s the standing up crowded experience with people facing each other, leaning in to listen more and well, getting too close.
So by taking the crowded experience out of the equation, 121 meetings are perfect – there’s often a table in the way to keep some distance.
And part of the reason you network is to catch up with people you know and build on those relationships.
Tip: Think of 3-5 people that are good referral partners for you from your existing network. Arrange a 121 and if you don’t feel comfortable with face 2 face do it via zoom.
121 MEETINGS WITH NEW CONTACTS (Outside)
It’s still relatively warm outside and hopefully will be for the next 6 weeks at least.
Meet with new contacts outside if it feels safer.
A lot of venues now have outdoor seating with covers over to help with the British Weather.
We must remember that a lot of people we know from social media are never going to attend a traditional networking event – they weren’t before Covid and they aren’t going to after.
It’s considered that a networking event is busy with 30+ people and yet there are probably 500+ businesses in your home town.
There are often hundreds or thousands of local people who follow you on social media, you get on with, but have never actually met you in person
By doing this you’re meeting people with purpose rather than leaving it to chance.
Doesn’t that sound better?
Tip: Message 5 people on social media that you’ve chatted with on social media and suggest a meet up in a coffee shop / bar (Hint: You can do that with us if this resonates with you)
Step by step I’ve ticked off each of the key social aspects of my life again
– Official Races
You all know and chat to people in your social life that might not be aware of what you do.
I’m not talking forced conversations here, but you probably know a lot of people in your social circle who you could work with or could introduce you to people you can work with.
It’s amazing how much casual conversations can lead to work.
Tip: Every so often post on your personal Facebook page about work – so that people have you front of mind and actually know what you do.
DOOR KNOCKING / DOOR DROPPING
When I 1st started my business it’s what I did the 1st 12 months of marketing my business.
And it worked.
Door knocking businesses I wanted to work with to introduce myself was a winning move.
Some of the businesses I door knocked on I’ve worked with for 6+ years.
If you’re a B2B business working with B2C / High Street businesses the chances of meeting them at networking events are slim. Despite the fact B2C businesses should network, they generally don’t.
Don’t expect them to come to you – go to them.
Tip: Write a list down of the businesses you love – then door knock and ask for the manager. They probably recognise your face so it’s a warm lead in as a customer.
PODCAST / INTERVIEWS
If you want to learn and network at the same time – set up a podcast or interview series with businesses you want to meet.
Everyone loves talking about themselves and it’s a great in without asking for a sale.
You get on someone’s radar and give without asking.
Naturally the quickest way to do an interview is an email interview, but it doesn’t have the human connection of seeing a face or hearing a voice so you can record interviews via zoom for Youtube or record a podcast.
Even doing one interview a week means that you’ve met 52 new people.
52 brand new opportunities will land from that, when you have a long-term vision.
Tip: Start thinking now of which interview format suits your personality and write a dream list of your 1st 10 interview subjects
Do you have any alternatives to networking events to add?
I didn’t mention social media as an alternative to networking events as it goes with out saying.
Bit if there’s anything else you’d add – let us know
Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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