By Morgan Heinrich
Legacy Purchasing Group | Director of Marketing
Our moms always told us not to talk to strangers… so how do we change our mindset now to INTENTIONALLY talk to strangers for business?
Recently, I was asked to present for the University of Texas Arlington EpICMavs group which is partnered with Tech Fort Worth. They wanted a “networking expert”. Let me preface this by saying, I have NEVER thought of myself as a “networking expert”… I just happen to never know a stranger.
If you don’t have the time to listen to my 24 minutes of genius (that I didn’t know existed) in the video above, here are some short snippets from my presentation.
Let’s Talk Networking
If you know me, you know that I LOVE NETWORKING. I believe that networking is essential to growing a business (and essential in life) – but it’s a wonderful tool in business. I was born and raised in New York, so when I came to Fort Worth for college I knew NO ONE. I quickly learned that Facebook is a powerful tool to connect with people that you meet and to stay in touch with them over the years. I currently foster puppies and I have had people that I met 8+ years ago adopt dogs from me from all over the country!
For those reading this that are still in college: First, enjoy it! Second, take advantage of it. Never again will you be put in the same room (campus) as so many people who are your age that are also looking to make friends and grow their network. My Tip: Make sure to connect with those people on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn), before you graduate!
Why Is Networking SO Important?
Ready for this? Stay with me now... I have this mindset that you never know who you might meet or who someone else knows. That random person that you met waiting in line at Starbucks could be (or might know) someone who can change your life, give you that big break, or even inspire you.
BUT the most IMPORTANT thing about networking – it’s a two-way street. YOU might know someone who could have the same impact on them!
I feel like this is a big one to know when you first start networking: Some people, just aren’t your people.
I have met LOTS of people and I like to think that I’m pretty personable – but occasionally there is someone who is attending an event for the free food. Don’t force connecting with someone who isn’t interested. There are a lot of amazing people out there who would be happy to have you in their circle so focus on connecting with those people!
Additional things not to do:
– (When the world returns to semi-normal) DON’T be afraid to introduce yourself to someone. If you are at a networking event, other people are there to network and meet people too!!
– DO NOT attend networking events with a large group of people or friends – unless they are all expert networkers too. It scares people off if it seems like they are imposing on your crowd. Go with one friend and plan to make some connections!
Pro – Tip: Get to know each other’s elevator speech. Whether it’s their major, their job, their assets/skills, or what their business or service is, it makes networking so much easier when you are making new connections!
If you have met me and are reading this, I am sorry for letting you in on my playbook…
Networking is seriously a key to success. I feel like we are in such an age where we are glued to our phones “liking” things and connecting with people on social media – but where is the REAL connection?
Go out. Go to that event your new boss recommended that you attend. Just put on your favorite top, grab your business cards, invite one networking expert friend, and go!
Quick story: That girl on the right in the red (I’m the girl on the left in the red), her name is Sarah. I was walking into my FIRST adult interior design event and I knew NO ONE and everyone was easily 8+ years older than me. I was walking in next to this stranger (Sarah) and she looked over and complimented my shoes. I complimented her shirt and stuck out my hand to introduce myself. Within the first two years of our friendship, she introduced me to over 150+ potential clients (so I stopped keeping track). WOW. This is why I say, “you never know who you might meet!”
What To Do When Networking:
– Introduce yourself and BE YOURSELF. This one is crucial. First, introduce yourself by shaking their hand and looking them in the eye (ignore the handshaking part until COVID is gone). Second, people can tell when you are being fake so just be yourself!! People appreciate other genuine REAL people.
– Compliments go a longggggg way! But make sure it is a real compliment.
– ALWAYS BRING BUSINESS CARDS. And if you forgot, don’t forget to ASK them for theirs!
– Make a realistic goal for the event. Example: I will get 5 new business cards.
– This goes with the “be yourself” tip. Have a NORMAL conversation. At networking events, a lot of people are “on” and are aggressively trying to sell. It can be EXHAUSTING. My little tip, don’t be that person. Networking is the start to building a relationship with that person. It is usually an instant turn off to someone when you approach them with your sales pitch guns blazing. Instead, do your little intro elevator speech and then talk about something normal. Talk about the event, the food, who invited you… The Bachelorette (yes, this is popular among the ladies and works great when it’s on).
– FOLLOW UP. This is the most important of all of them. It is your time that was wasted if you don’t follow up!
Networking Going Virtual
Three things here:
(1) Be Intentional. Make it a goal to follow up with at least 3 connections a month.
(2) Utilize Social Media. Comment on that photo! Share that update! Highlight someone who inspires you!
* That last one is an AMAZING thing to do. I have started doing it recently when I showcase someone amazing that I’ve met (without giving them a heads up I am doing it). There are so many fantastic people out there! Showcase the cool people that you have met. It’s the biggest compliment you can give! *)
* That last one is an AMAZING thing to do. I have started doing it recently when I showcase someone amazing that I’ve met (without giving them a heads up I am doing it). There are so many fantastic people out there! Showcase the cool people that you have met. It’s the biggest compliment you can give! *
(3) Take Advantage of Platforms. Join those Zoom meetings, follow up with a call, make those email introductions.
You have their business card… What’s next?
(1) Follow up!
If you don’t follow up that next day, give yourself (3) days to follow up via email.
(2) Track Your Card.
Keep yourself accountable – use an app (CamCard) or make a spreadsheet to keep their info.
(3) Schedule The Meeting.
In your follow up, include SPECIFIC dates that you are available to meet.
(4) Provide Value.
If you can’t meet, introduce them to someone that can help them or share some knowledge that can improve their business.
This is my EPIC cheat sheet for email follow-ups… so shhhh.
The Meeting: What To Bring?
Depending on what you originally talked about – be prepared. What is your goal with this new connection? New job? Get to know them more? Help grow each other’s networks?
Take a look at their business online, what do they do?
If you are networking to both expand your networks – bring a list of top clients and desired clients. If you are looking to connect about business, bring your marketing packet! If you are looking for a job – bring your resume and samples of your work and ask for feedback and advice on how to become a better candidate.
But always DO YOUR HOMEWORK ABOUT THEM!
Morgan’s Key Takeaways
This is probably one of the best slides that I have ever made – so I hope you enjoy it, if not print it out and frame it.
So feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and share your feedback on this presentation/blog with me.
If you stumbled upon this blog by accident, check out Legacy Purchasing Group. We offer fantastic programs and benefits AT NO COST. It’s easy to sign up for any of our programs that you probably already use (without the amazing discounts). Start Saving Money HERE.