In today’s world of Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, and pay-per-click advertising, it is easy to discount face-to-face encounters such as Speed Networking, Events and Networking groups.

We’ve done a lot of experimenting here at SalesSeek since we launched our product in Late 2014. One thing we’ve found is that people are more willing to trust a product if they’ve met the people behind it. Particularly with a product that’s new and the company is young.

While our customer list is growing swiftly, we’re finding the strongest leads are through our personal connections, customer referrals and those we meet at the various events we attend.

Most business events have a speed networking segment and we have gotten pretty good at these  – even if we do say so ourselves! Why do we like speed networking so much?

Practise Your Pitch – There is nothing quite like doing it live into front of 20+ people immediately following each other to refine and perfect your value proposition.

Meet Prospects –We regularly meet people who would like to try and buy our product through speed networking sessions

Create Advocates – Even if your product isn’t right for them, if you solve a problem they’ll refer others to you.

Gain Feedback –Some of the most honest feedback we’ve had comes from people we’ve only spoken to for 1 minute- they don’t feel bad about hurting your feelings.

If you decide you would like to take part in Speed Networking, take advantage of the lessons we’ve learned the hard way by reading on below:

How does it work?

  • Usually 2 rows of people in chairs lined up.
  • The people on one side of the table stay seated throughout the whole event while those on the front side move along to the next chair.
  • Usually sessions are 2-5 minutes long. Just enough time to give a quick overview of what you do and hear the other person’s version – then it is time to move on.

How can you be most effective?

Exchange business cards before each conversation

This will save time and will allow you to move to the next person quickly when prompted.
Bring 40+ cards with you; there is nothing worse than running out of cards at a networking event! Always keep your last card with you so that others can take a photo of it.

Speak Clearly, Take Your Time

Speak clearly and using a varied tone of voice to be heard easily among the rest of the attendees. While you only have 60 seconds, if you have the right pitch it is plenty of time so you shouldn’t need to rush.

You must have a clear message for them to easily identify the value your company provides. Then you can usually continue the conversation after the action ends, or follow up by email and phone post event on how your business could help them specifically.

RELATE!

If you’re in the advantageous position of going second, relate your company to the business of the person that you’ve learned about. That way they know you were listening, it makes your value proposition easier to understand and is more likely to peak their interest.

Prepare a 60-secs elevator pitch

You only have 1 minute to talk about your product, make it count.

  • Introduce Yourself
  • What? Describe you proposition in no more than 15 seconds.  
  • Who? Who is it for, who is your target audience?
  • Why? Why should people buy from you, which problems are you solving for them, what value do you offer?
  • Is there a particular service that you would like to focus?
  • You may also want to allow a bit of time for the other person to ask a couple of quick questions.

Keep a Record

Post event you can use a CRM tool like SalesSeek to help with the follow up. If you’re doing a lot of networking it is essential keep a record of who you’re meeting and what you’ve learned about them.

You’ll often meet people more than once at different events. If you’ve taken the time to jot down some notes you’ll be more likely to remember them in the future – or you can pull them up on your mobile before engaging them in conversation!

Follow up after the event

Continue networking, stay in touch with the people you met via email and connect across social media. Each touch point is another chance to build rapport and further cement your name in their mind.

  1. Scan all business cards – We strongly recommend:World Card Premium Version.
  2. Export them from the app to a CSV file and send this to your email
  3. Use SalesSeek’s upload tool– to import them into your visual CRM, including the lead source.

  1. Send a bulk but tailored email to each of them the next day after the event, they will still remember you.
  2. Last but not least: Keep momentum

Start calling only the ones who have opened the email and clicked through the links on it… They are showing real engagement with your proposition.

Are you based in London and would like to attend a speed networking event? Let us know and we would be glad let you know when we’re next attending one.

Image: CC BY-ND-2.0 by Games for Change