Online vs Offline Networking: Are you hiding out?

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and the list goes on. All are online platforms I’m sure you’re familiar with. But are these online tools distracting you from face-to-face networking and/or nurturing and strengthening relationships?

This was something my coach/mentor asked me during one of our coaching calls.

Putting aside her question for a moment – I have to admit that I love technology, so-much-so that I can easily loose myself for hours on end, if I’m not careful.

I can easily find myself distracted and geeking out on a new app, social media platform, or other piece of technology set to be ‘the next best thing’.

And, it wasn’t till my coach/mentor asked me: “So, how many of the people (who you are connecting with online) have you spoken with outside of the social media platform? And, how many people are you also regularly connecting with face-to-face?”

I couldn’t answer.

In all honesty, I was embarrassed to answer. Because the answer was zero.

I could see that I had pretty much ignored face-to-face networking with my online activities consuming most of my time, which got me thinking – why?

Why was it that I hadn’t attended any networking events, for months now?

Then it struck me.

It felt safe.

Sitting behind my computer felt safe. I had been hiding out.

Hoping that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way – I reached out to a number of colleagues (who I knew were not regularly attending face-to-face networking events, asking them, “Why?”).

The responses I received were similar:

  • Fear of not knowing what to say or do (and therefore making a fool of themselves), and not wanting to come across as being salesly and pushy when talking about their businesses.

They too were hiding out.

If this sounds like you, and you realise you’ve hiding out because like my colleagues you’re unsure what to say or do when you go to a networking event – here are 3 things that will help you boost your courage and confidence.

I developed them after my wakeup call with my coach and have been using them in both my online and offline networking and relationship building with great success.

NOTE: These three things can be used with both your online and offline networking efforts.

purpose

Purpose

What is the purpose of attending a face-to-face networking event? Or having a conversation via Skype/telephone if logistics proves difficult to meet in person?

Is it to build a relationship with the person? Or, is it to walk away with a sale (or as many sales) as possible?

If you answered ‘build a relationship’ – you’d be correct.

It’s vital to think ‘Relationships First’ with any form of networking, whether online or offline.

I was recently chatting with one of my Linkedin connections – Jeff Cox, when he said something quite profound:

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Networking events are not designed for people to make as many shallow sales pitches as they can in the hope they will secure a customer.

That’s the ultimate deal breaker.

When you approach networking from that point of view – you’ll only alienate people.

However, if you approach networking from a view point of building relationships; adding value; and valuing the people with whom you are connecting with – that’s when business opportunities can, and will, arise.

Because people refer and do business with people they know, like, and trust.

What opportunities have I seen through taking the time to build relationships?

  • Clients;
  • Referrals;
  • Invitations to speak on telesummits and events;
  • Joint Venture opportunities;
  • …and the list goes on.

You can generate these kind of results too – when you value and continue to add value to the relationships you build and nurture.

 

Plan

We all know the value of having a plan in place, however I love Alan Lakein’s words, when he said:

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I didn’t want to be standing across from someone at a networking event with a blank look on my face and scrambling for something to say.

So, I can up with a plan.

HOW I CAN SUPPORT THEM:

  • What information do I need to find out from them to see whether there is an opportunity for me to support them?
  • Could I invite them onto my podcast The Ambitious Entrepreneur Show therefore helping them boost their visibility with my listeners?
  • What challenges/needs are they faced with that I might be able to support them with, or someone else in my network can support them with?

WHAT I WANT THEM TO KNOW ABOUT ME:

  • Who is my ideal client and what are they specifically struggling with and what is the solution/results I can provide?
  • What are one or two client success stories I can share?
  • What resources can I recommend if people ask, which includes an invitation to continue the conversation outside the event?

My plan also involves attending at least two face-to-face networking events per month, so I sought out a few local networking groups in my area and requested they keep me updated on their upcoming events.

 

Process

I love processes, and am a firm believe that to be truly successful you need to have a step-by-step set of action steps in place.

Once I have a process in place, I can continue to measure and track, and if need be – tweak until the process delivers the results I’m looking for.

Firstly, I recognise I HAVE to attend networking events and proactively speak with people I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting.

I have a number of key questions I know I can ask them, with some I’ve listed in my article, “Networking 101: 3 steps to banish networking nerves”

I also have my introduction and follow up questions and conversation ready to go, should people say, “So, tell me more!”

Not only do I have a process for when I’m attending a networking event, I also have a follow up process after the event, which includes:

  • Sending a ‘nice to meet you’ email;
  • Forwarding information I promised to send them;
  • Booking in a follow up appointment if we have agreed to connect after the event.

One thing I am setting an intention to be more mindful of after the networking event is to enter their details into a database so I can easily refer back to my notes if I need to refresh my memory as to where I met them and what was mentioned in our conversation.

WomanSpeaking Want to learn how to create a memorable 30-second introduction that will WOW the audience and have people wanting to know more about you, along with powerful public speaking and presentation skills?

Join me on my one-day ‘Network and Communicate With Confidence’ Workshop. Find out more by clicking on the Join Me button below.

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join-the-conversation  Question: If you’ve recognised that you’ve been hiding out, what’s one action step you’re going to commit to this week? Do you have a networking and relationship building process in place that has worked for you? Go ahead and leave your comment by clicking here.

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