How can you give yourself the edge when attending a networking function? What can you do that will differentiate you from the many business people handing out business cards?
It was a Wednesday afternoon, when I got a telephone call from a business associate inviting me to a Chamber of Commerce networking event, to be held in the Telstra shop at Westfield in Chatswood.
By the time I arrived, there were already 70 small business people mingling in small groups.
As I met my friend at the entrance to the Telstra shop, he commented on the many people swapping business cards hoping to meet someone that may lead to some new business.
My friend said, ?I hope you brought enough business cards. It will take us quite a while to work through this crowd.?
I turned to my friend and handed him a copy of my latest newsletter. I knew from experience that I needed something far more memorable and impacting than a business card when networking.
My most powerful networking tool
My plan is quite simple, when attending a network function, I aim to hand out one of my newsletters to each person in the room.
I don?t bother trying to share my story. I simply walk up to each group of people, offer them each a copy of my newsletter in exchange for their business card.
On that particular night, having handed out over 70 newsletters, I returned to my friend who was just starting to chat with the third person he had met that night.
As we resumed our conversation, he commented on the impact my newsletters.
?There are several groups of people over there who have stopped talking and instead they are reading your newsletter.?
My friend was quite amazed to find that there were over 30+ people standing around in groups reading my newsletter.
Why use a newsletter instead of a business card when networking?
When you hand out a business card you are forced to stand there and give a quick synopsis of what you do and why they may want to contact you.
As we know, not everybody is going to be interested in what we offer. Instead of taking up time with each person so I can share my story, I leave them a newsletter which allows me to effectively communicate my message over four pages.
If they are interested in what you offer, they can read it on the spot or they can take it home and read it.
By sidestepping the need to have to speak every individual person in the room, I am able to quickly go from group to group handing out my newsletters while collecting each individuals business card.
That night I went home with over 70 business cards, which I followed up with both e-mail and print marketing materials.
What was the reaction of the people who were handed a newsletter?
Within about 20 minutes, I had five people asking me to give them a quote on having their own newsletter written.
When I went to that event, I had no idea out of the 70 people who would be interested in using my services.
If I had done what most people do, which is speak to one person while handing out their business card, I most likely would have missed the opportunity of connecting with the five people who responded to my newsletter.
By being able to hand out a newsletter to each person in the room, I got my message across without boring people who had no interest with my story.
That way the people in the room, who could possibly have some interest in using my newsletter service, the opportunity to approach me.
What can you do if you do not have a newsletter?
Put together a one page case study. Not a document that just talks about your business.
Let?s say you are web designer. You could hand out an article on the five things essential for a good website with your contact details. at the end of the article you could offer to complete a FREE analysis of their website.
A far more interesting takeaway than leaving them with your business card.
Think of all those business cards you have been given, but you cannot remember the person or what they offered. That?s why I find newsletters a worthwhile networking tool.