Secret File #026: Secrets to Building Strong Networks
In the previous episode, I shared with you the importance of networking and how it has helped me gain 60% of my total business revenue. In today’s episode, I want to focus on The Secret to Building Strong Networks.
In this episode, you'll hear about my 4 networking secrets:
Speed is Key
Contact them Immediately
Follow Up, only if they’re interested
Follow Up Once, if they don’t reply
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Welcome to Fempreneur Secrets where business secrets are revealed. In the previous episode I shared with you the importance of networking and how it has helped me get in 60% of my total business revenue. In today's episode, I want to focus on the secret to building strong networks. In fact, there are forward networking secrets that I would like to share with you today in this episode
Networking is like a game. If you play it strategically, you’ll benefit from it.
Networking Secret #1: Speed is Key
I'm going to start off with networking secret number one: Speed is key. When you go for any networking event, you are put in a position and in a situation where you are to meet a lot of new entrepreneurs that you probably have never known about during this networking session. What you've got to do is to remember that you need to get as much information as possible from the first conversation.
Ask for their name card before giving yours. Once they give you their name card, I look at their name card and ask as many questions as you can without sounding too creepy. Questions must be related to the things on the name card and then your follow up responses to your questions.
If you find that this person is an important person as a partner, collaborate the associate or even as a prospect, this is the thing that I want you to do with their name guard. I wanted to fall the corner of their name card without making it seem too obvious.
So, as you are holding the name card, maybe at your waist level, why it totally fall at the corner of the name guard. This only applies to traditional people named cards of course.
So if that name cards has a fancy material or is made of plastic or maybe it's made of aluminium, you'll definitely remember them anyway when your dog ear or fall the corners of their name cards after receiving so many name cards in your networking event, you wouldn't know that they are the people who are important and are of higher priority for you to follow up after the even. So, within 24-hours of meeting with this person, you should have already connected with them.
Just like any human being, you will only retain as much as you review. So be sure to review their cards as soon as you can after the event. So a good gauge that I would say is about 24-hours where you can actually contact them and you can communicate with them directly.
Networking Secret #2: Contact Them Immediately
So, this leads me into networking secret number two, which is to contact them immediately.
So while the event is the fresh in their memories, drop them a message or email to remind them about who you are. At this stage, don't sell them anything yet. Just refresh their memory about how you met and what you do. You might want to drop a line or two about the conversation you had that really intrigued you to want to make this contact in the first place. Ask for a coffee session to talk about their business.
I like to add in that I would like to see how we can work together because this is like a magic line that that usually helps me get the coffee session slot in, booked in, and appointment sealed. So this extra lane I believe is the reason and the extra push that's going to help you be prepared, that this isn't going to be a full sales meeting and like ways the either party is going to also be aware that this isn't going to be a full sales meeting but it's just going to be a pure get to know session.
It also gives you breathing room to excuse yourself, in case, that after you've met this person you felt that they're not the right partner or prospect for your business. So you can easily wiggle your way out.
Which method of contacting would be the best way for you to contact them?
So between Whatsapp or like an a, you know, like an SMS or instant messaging software that your country uses predominantly or emails. Which will be a better tool for you to reconnect?
I've tried both. So based on experience, reconnecting with all these people that I've met within 24 hours via Whatsapp or any instant messaging tool that you have our um, our SMS for that matter is much more effective than if you were to send them an email.
Networking Secret #3: Follow Up, only if they are interested
Networking secret number three is to follow up only if they are interested. So if a true your coffee session, you found that they seem interested, drop them an email immediately. Of course beforehand you would have already asked them for the working email address that you are using. So this not only shows your speed of work, but it also shows that you are keen that you are really, really interested with working with them.
So give them all the information that they have asked for. If they do ask for any of this information and customize the email to suit your meeting. The more personal the email is, the more relatable the email is, the more likely you'll get a reply and end the email with a strong call to action.
So I don't like it when emails are salesy. I like to end off with what they can expect when they are working with me. So for example, I use this line: “I look forward to help your business grow with you.”
Networking Secret #4: Follow-Up Only Once, if they don’t reply
Let's go on to networking secret number four. If they don't reply, follow up only once. So again, I have to read the rate. No one likes a pushy salesperson. So following up is still your responsibility, but you can choose to do it only once. So make that follow up great and something that they can benefit from.
Recall what they have set at the meeting and remember what conversations you had. Remember, what were the doubts that this person have? Remember the solutions that you provided them, you have advised them.
So if they have mentioned that they are looking for, a caterer, for example, for their upcoming event and you are not a caterer, connect them with one anyway. This shows that you're interested in helping them achieve their goals.
So when you are helping them in ways other than doing a business service with them, they will remember you for that favour.
FREEZE Uninterested Contacts
And if they don't respond to you even after that, you can consider them uninterested for now, but don't throw out their contact or delete their contact.
Instead, keep their names in your customer relationship or CRM and label them ICEBOX. We're basically so called freeze this lead until they are ready to be thawed again in the future.
We once put a contact in ICEBOX for two years. We only reconnected after we sent a Christmas greeting card to them and that contact was thawed. And within a month we managed to close that deal with them.
So follow up once and wait for response. If there's no response, freeze them.
So, those are my four networking secrets to building strong networks. And remember ladies: be of value to them and build that bridge of relationship because relationships — they last much longer than a sales conversation.
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Till the next episode, This is Huda — Empowering Women Through Business.