Networking within your community can reap great rewards for your small business. You have the opportunity to position yourself as an expert, show your personality, find resources and make valuable connections for the purpose of growing your social media footprint. Most of the other networking attendees are also small business owners so you are meeting individuals looking to grow themselves and should be eager to connect with you. How to connect on Social Media after an event does take some effort. But the benefit is growing a substantial presence. Here are a few tips:
Exchange business cards When you strike up a conversation with a particular individual, always ask for their business card. This is your opportunity to get all of their information in one shot.
Send each contact an invitation to connect on LinkedIn This can take some time (and requires you have your own LinkedIn account – you do have one don’t you?). You will find that people are more likely to connect to you on LinkedIn if you include a personal note. Take the extra minute and personalize the invitation.
Send a personal thank you email Make sure to reference something personal about your initial interaction. Also mention that you have sent them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn (or ask them to connect to you if you could not find their profile). If you have an email newsletter, include a link so they can sign-up immediately. Make sure the email is personal but down to business. Make sure your email signature includes all of your social media share buttons so they can connect with you with an easy click of the icon.
Keep track of the contact Just the other day, Jamie Broderick of Network Now connections reminded me that it can take up to 7 “touches” before someone considers buying your product or service. How you touch an individual can be the initial meeting, LinkedIn connection, the follow-up email you sent. If they sign-up for your newsletter you can reach them with helpful information on a regular basis (another ‘touch’). Keeping track of how you reach out to a particular person can be a bit overwhelming. There are several services out there like CardMunch and Poplar. Try each of them out and make sure that the interface agrees with your computer, phone and other mobile devices. Then make the commitment to keep track. This way, if you meet them at another time and are not sure when or how you last met, you can simply look it up right on your phone.
Working the room during a networking event is a skill that must be mastered. However, just as important as the connections you make in person is the follow-up afterwards. Connecting in the real world can lead to some great support for your social media effort. It just takes a few extra minutes after an event to reach out and keep the conversation going.
If you have not connected to me yet, you can find my social media links at the top of my bio page but clicking here.