Networking is essential to building and growing a business, especially for business-to-business marketers who participate in professional associations and trade shows. But it takes skill and experience to feel confident in a networking situation, and it takes careful planning to capitalize on the value of networking for lead generation.
Here’s what I’ve learned about personal marketing and successful networking at bussiness-to-business events, and five tips you consider before the event to make networking a powerful component of your smart marketing strategy.
1. Choose wisely. You want to be at meetings with people who share your interests and value your capabilities. Study an organization’s website to see if the meeting topics relate to your expertise and if its members are people someone in your business should know.
2. Set your objectives. Decide the outcome you want from each event. For example, your goal might be to meet two prospects, identify a potential collaborator, check out a competitor, or evaluate opportunities the group offers for boosting your visibility and generating leads. Keep this goal in mind as you prepare to chat and circulate.
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3. Scope out the attendees. If registration is online, review the LinkedIn, Facebook or Evite guest list in advance to see who’s coming that you want to meet. If you can’t view it online, get to the event early and scan badges on the registration table to see who you know and who you want to know.