You just got home from a stellar networking event, you’re pumped! Between the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres you made a bazillion (okay, six) solid contacts. What’s next? How do you follow up? After all, dismissing this type of event as merely tangential is a BIG mistake!
1. The Responsibility to Reconnect Is On You
The burden is on you to pursue a relationship. Establish a process for engaging contacts after the conclusion of an event. If you don’t take first steps, chances are the relationship won’t move beyond the first interaction. Prioritize and formulate a follow up strategy that works best for you and your firm. The purpose of cultivation after the first time meeting someone, is to get to know them further.
2. Take a Strategic Approach to Building Your Network
Brilliant ideas deserve to be shared. Sharing ideas/breakthroughs to your network is a valuable and powerful tool when fully utilized. Identify shared skills within your current network and focus on what areas you are weak in. Is there anyone who could add value and fill those knowledge gaps? What can you offer them in return?
3. Remember Why You Are Doing This
It’s easy to lose sight of why you are spending so much time and effort attending “after hours” events. While it’s important to have a strong work-life balance, it’s also imperative to your success that you grow your business. The extra effort is worth it. When you find yourself slipping into a funk, remind yourself of the many benefits.
4. Benefits of Networking:
5. Break From Your Routine and Your Comfort Zone
Make meeting new people a new goal. Walk a different route, try a new coffee shop or hold the elevator instead of taking it alone. After all, “How do you measure a year - 525,600 minutes.” Don’t measure your year by number of events, but by the successful interactions and experiences gained. Now go! Get out there and uncover those new opportunities!
First things first, what does it mean to be authentic? Simply put, authentic is the equivalent of genuine, but the word has taken on so much more meaning. Being authentic in the digital age means staying true to yourself, true to your business, and true to your customers (this extends to your social media followers). The concept of being real and authentic isn’t new, but it is trending!
Here’s why being authentic is important to your business:
First Steps to Building Authenticity
As technology continues to evolve, our consumption of digital information is sure to grow as well. Customer trends the last few years demonstrate the need for a full and differentiated customer experience, not just a product or service. In creating this experience, you will want to be honest and real when explaining your organization’s mission. Leverage your brand, be transparent with your main goals, beliefs, and values. Weave in personal stories of why and how you started your business. Share that information in various mediums (videos, photos, infographics etc.) across your social media channels, website, and email campaigns.
In addition, consider aligning yourself with a specific charitable cause. Choose something personal to you and your staff that will fit into your strategic plan. Invest time and resources into cultivating your community while building your reputation in an authentic, sincere, compassionate way.
What to Avoid
Keep it real, but don’t share everything with everyone. Being authentic doesn’t mean dishing out the personal details of your life. Your authenticity will remain intact nonetheless. How many parking tickets you’ve received or who you’re dating isn’t something to advertise to the world. No one likes an oversharer, but yes, please do lift the curtain on your life and your business once in a while. People like to see how things work and what goes on behind the scenes. Use your best judgement and rely on your team for a gut check to verify content. Avoid moving too quickly on content that hasn’t been discussed or vetted. The last thing you want to do is push out content that is inconsistent with your values, is insensitive or can be taken out of context.
Embrace Who You Are
Stay true to your mission and deliverables. Actively engage your customers, followers, and community by being, yes, you guessed it--authentic! Don’t miss the opportunity to tap into your following on social media in order to reinforce your key branding messages. As more and more transactions and interactions go strictly online, you can’t afford to not be where your customers are. Get to know your audience, let them get to know you; it’s a sure fire way to boost your bottom line and credibility within your industry. Armed with this new information, go forth and prosper!