Is your design agency missing a trick by not connecting into the local community? Local networking groups and events are fantastic for generating leads for your business. People often think that they need to focus their resources into online advertisement, content and social media, and as great as these all are, you are likely missing out on opportunities on your doorstep!
Don’t just take it from me, check out my episode here with Paul Landa where we both share how networking has given us introductions to our ideal clients, and netted outstanding contracts that have helped us grow our businesses.
If you are already convinced you want to dip your toe into the networking scene, here are some essential strategies to help you succeed.
It’s important to know how to make the most of networking, rather than going in expecting the wrong things. There are several key tips that you can remember before your first meeting and as you continue to attend them.
Don’t go in planning to make a hard sell
Networking groups and events are about community. While they can benefit you and your business, don’t go to meetings expecting to sell to the room. No one will appreciate it if all you do is push your services, so be ready to focus more on other people.
Get to know everyone
Spend time asking others about themselves during meetings. You should be listening to people more than just talking about yourself. Ask them about what they do and talk about the things that you have in common. You could form important contacts, and also make some good friends at networking events.
Attend a regular meeting
Once you’ve been to a meeting that you like, make an effort to keep going back. Regular attendance will get your face and name known, and give you a chance to make some real connections. As you build your relationships, you might even want to get more involved in the networking group.
Ask what you can do for others
Don’t go to local networking events hoping to just get lots out of it for yourself. The best way to benefit from networking is to see how you can help other people. As you do favours for others, offering advice or connecting them to your contacts, you will naturally receive things from them in return.
Makes contacts through new contacts
The people you meet at networking events might not necessarily be the most useful contacts themselves. Perhaps you’ll meet a lot of other designers, and you don’t have much call to work with them. But they could have valuable contacts who they could connect you with if they ever think of you.
Put out feelers
Being active in building contacts is important. When you meet people at networking events, make sure you let them know what sort of leads you’re looking for. Next time they hear of something that you might be interested in, they’ll be more likely to refer you so that you can benefit.
Tell people what you do
It’s important that the people you meet have a good understanding of what you do. So, without spending too much time talking about yourself, tell them about the problems that you solve and who you do it for. A short, casual elevator pitch might be helpful.
Join a group with a framework or accountability
Disorganised networking events are not particularly useful. Try looking for a group that has some kind of framework or accountability in place so that you have a solid and reliable networking family.
Remember: Check out our podcast episode on generating leads at local networking events to find out more about how you can make the most of your meetings.