Here’s how you can avoid networking burnout and improve your results during and after your networking event.
With several networking events going on in any city during the day and night it would be easy to let it consume your work week and create a feeling of burnout. Seeing the same people at different events, saying your “elevator speech” and having the same appetizers can grow very tiring. Especially if you are not seeing results from your networking efforts. If networking is a part of your job description, I would recommend the following tips to help prevent burnout and to help improve your results.
#1 Schedule time for networking
Figure out how much time you want to spend on networking each week. Whether it’s four, six or eight hour a week, block out this time on your schedule and treat it like a sales appointment, don’t cancel. Keeping your pipeline full of prospects is vital to the success of any business, including your own. I always suggest blocking off a few times for morning, lunch time and after hours, since networking events can happen during any of those time frames. Regularly scheduled networking events such as Chamber events, Leads groups should be on your calendar automatically.
#2 Choose the right events to attend
While you are scanning the event postings, look for events that target your audience. Don’t waste your time calling to find out endless details about the event. You only succeed in talking yourself out of attending. It doesn’t matter how many people attend, even if 200 people attend there is no possible way you can connect with all 200 during the event. You are looking for quality not quantity! You should concern yourself with a few details, first, is the attendance geared toward your target audience?
For example, if you only sell to Realtors, it may not be the best use of time to attend the chamber golf outing on Saturday, since Saturday is a busy day for Real Estate Agents. Second, is the cost and time investment, don’t assume that more expensive events will yield better prospects, I’ve seen people make great connections at events that were free of charge. If it’s a morning or lunch event, try to stick with the ones that last an hour, after hour’s events you can leave when you want. Don’t let the event consume your time, it’s easy to lose track and very important to keep on schedule.
#3 Change Your Pitch
Chances are you’re running into the same people at different events. If you are attending events that let you have a one minute spotlight to talk about your business, change it up! Each event you attend tell them you’re looking for something different. For example, if you’re a Realtor, how many times have you stood up and said “I help people realize their dreams of home ownership, call me if you or someone you know is looking to purchase their first home.” We have all heard these pitches before, so make it more specific and paint a picture of who you are looking for to buy that house.
You could say, “A good referral for me is either a single person/family who is looking for either their first home or a good home for retirement. Think of who you know is recently married, single or perhaps approaching retirement and needs to consolidate their space. I have a 2/2 home available immediately in the southwest end of town. This is perfect for first time home buyers.” The difference is huge, it paints a picture of potential people that they may know that could be a good referral for you. The possibilities are endless and it keeps your pitch fresh and new each time. There are several opportunities to change your pitch, you just have to use your imagination. Take some time and think about the products and services you offer, take a moment to jot down each one and who it could potentially help, get descriptive and paint a picture. This will help you market the different products or services that most people (even the ones you see all the time) don’t know you offer. People want to help you get referrals, it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for them.
#4 Look to your Left
This is a great approach for a lunch or dinner event, anywhere you are seated next to someone. I created this concept years ago and still use it today. Sit next to someone you don’t know and strike up a conversation. During the course of the event, there are four “Look to your Left” questions I suggest you ask them:
How can I help you this week? (There might be something specific they need that you can provide)
Let me tell you about my client base, you tell me which clients you would benefit the most from an introduction. (This gives them insight as to what types of prospects you look for as well)
Who would make a good strategic partner for you? (a business partner that sells a product or service complimentary to yours to the same target audience)
What types of situations are people/businesses in that make them an ideal client for you? (Are they getting married, filing bankruptcy, losing weight, etc.)
This accomplishes two things, you get to know more about their business and how you can help them and they are learning more about your business as well. When using this concept, be sure to take notes of the answers to these questions, this will help you remember the details later on and will further impress the person you are making a connection with, let them know you want to help them. This is also a great concept to use in one on one meetings with other business professionals, it really gives a good overview of what types of prospects you need for your business. Keep in mind, networking, if done correctly, is about building relationships and helping one another. You can’t help someone if you don’t ask questions about their business.
To help alleviate your burnout from networking and to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste spend ample time on follow-up activities. Create a system for follow-up that can be implemented the moment you attend a networking function.