One thing I’ve noticed regarding networking during the pandemic is how people are connecting, or more accurately, not connecting. During more “normal” times, networking had a certain forgiveness built into it. For example, if you went to a networking meeting and met several people, you’d connect with some more than others, and that would feel normal.
Meeting new people, in person, is consistently rated as one of the most effective ways to find new prospects for selling your professional services. After attending just a few networking mixers or industry meetings, you will quickly end up with a daunting collection of new contacts. But what do you do with them all?
Remember Why You Are Networking
The whole point of meeting new people is to give you a starting point for developing relationships. New contacts almost never become clients as the result of a one-time meeting.
It’s easy to let things slide, especially when they feel difficult. Unfortunately, sometimes in business, following up with clients can feel that way.
Why is that? It’s not as if your hands are broken and you can’t type, dial the phone, pick up a cup of coffee, or you don’t know how important following up is.
I asked a new client recently what he had been doing to market his professional services. “Everything,” he said. “I’ve been running pay-per-click ads online, I hired someone to write a sales letter and mailed it to a list of local companies, I have a banner ad in my professional association’s directory, I’ve even been posting flyers around town… and I still have almost no business.”
“Ah hah,” I replied, “I think we’ve uncovered your problem. You actually haven’t been marketing your business. What you have been doing is advertising.”
Established professionals and those who are new in business often have a difference of opinion about going to networking events. Many old-timers in business say that live, in-person networking meetings are one of their most important sources of prospective clients, while the newcomers frequently claim to not see much return from attending these events. It’s the professionals’ length of time in business that seems to influence their view, not their age in years. So, what’s going on here?