In today’s climate of frantic and frequent online promotion, too many businesses – it seems – have shelved the importance of offline networking. This is a mistake that needs to be corrected in this digital age! Meeting IRL (in real life) matters! It develops a rapport with prospective customers far better than a video can ever hope to accomplish. The person-to-person, face-to-face aspect has the capacity to build and strengthen relationships, and business, better than any other method.
You might ask “why is this so?”; because of the ability to engage multiple senses and leave a lasting impression. Body language, eye-contact, a charming smile – these don't come through a video screen the same as in person. Think of it like this: you have a best friend who lives across the country. Sure – you can converse every few days via Google Hangouts or Skype, but nothing beats meeting in person. It goes deeper as you share a common experience. Similarly with business, the emotional aspect of an interaction can leave a lasting impression that can seal the sale.
Principles of Offline Networking
Before you engage in any interaction, make sure you’ve fleshed out why your perspective brings value. You want to make sure you can answer any question regarding your business; thought leader Michael Hyatt calls this a transformational conversation.
You also want to stand out by being unique and memorable. This starts with your attire – nothing too outlandish, just embrace your personal style. Be comfortable, ready to deliver a value proposition and connect it to whatever the person is interested in. Can you guess what my personal color of choice in a business presentation would be?
To better help you prepare, here are specific Keys to Networking:
Imagine you’re in an elevator, and have 30 seconds to make a pitch to an executive or prospective customer. Introduce yourself in a unique, uncommon fashion that invites questions. When describing your role in your business or idea, make sure to convey the same sense of excitement that you feel. Watch their body language, and tailor your delivery to their positive responses – this requires that you listen intently to their questions as your interaction progresses.
Establish yourself during the conversation as someone who gets things done – a proverbial “go-to-guy” for situations where you may not be able to directly provide the services needed by being the referral king.
Be mindful of not talking too much – quality matters; not quantity. Be engaging but succinct. Instead, try asking questions. People are put at ease when they can share about themselves.
Of course, long before the meeting, you should have researched the person and her company well enough to get a feel for the company. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and more to prep and look for points in common or interesting information to ask about.
This next tip goes back to being engaging in whatever situation you might find yourself in – break out of your comfort zone at a convention, and meet people! You can always ask questions to learn about someone else’s business. Like yourself, others are there to network so make it easy for them!
Always have your best, most professional picture on your business card and your social profiles. Think of it like an online social profile – profiles with photos always get more views than those without.
Remember – people do business with people they like. Take advantage of the opportunity to network and make it work to your advantage by opening up and being engaging. Relationships in the business world are always a great return on investment.
Here's the full blab with Jessika, Ravi and me. Enjoy!