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How To Use Networking Events To Generate Leads

Networking events can be a powerful tool for lead generation, that is if you know how to harness them.

We reached out to industry experts to find how they harnessed networking events to generate leads.

#1 The One Thing

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My advice for networking to generate leads is to find that one thing that differentiates you from the crowd. When you’ve found that thing, you can use that to begin conversations and generate leads. 

Contributors: Lindsey Andrews from TorHoerman Law Personal Injury Lawyers

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#2 Conversation Starters

When I meet people at a networking event, I revert to a list of questions I’'ve memorized. The questions are a little less cliché than “what’s your business?”. Typically, it’'s about the event or something of the sort. Since many people are more comfortable answering a question rather than starting a conversation, guess what? A conversation ensues. This technique often gives me the opportunity to learn more about the people I meet.

This, in turn, makes it easier for me to connect the people I meet with people in my network. And we all know that giving is the key to receiving in networking. Okay, so maybe you’re not a former reporter. It doesn’t prevent you from creating a list of questions to have for when you go to events. Fortunately, networking is much more about what happens outside networking events. And that’'s where introverts can be very successful if you choose to be.

Contributors: Steven V. Dubin from My Pinnacle Network

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  1. Thanks for including my comments. Great article. Thorough outline of Networking 101! Congrats to all contributors.

#3 The key is in the follow up

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I have created email templates in my email system, that have an overview of my company and all of our services. I get business cards and/or email addresses when I’m out networking and then I simply shoot them an email so they always have my contact information. Even if they don’t need my services right now.

Contributors: Tiffany Victoria Bradshaw from Bradshaw & Co. Business Consulting

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#4 Be Interested

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It doesn’t matter how much you tell them about your business, they won’t remember what you do, they’ll remember your interaction with them & if they liked you or not. Ask more questions about them, decide if they’re someone you’d like to get to know better and if they are… 

Make a next move! You’re busy, they’re busy, you’re both super important people. If you really want to make sure you connect, attempt to schedule a next step on the spot. Schedule a chat for later this week to talk business. If you’re at a bar or event it’s not really conducive to real business chat. 

Contributors: Kristin A. O’Neal from Ashton Charles Consulting 

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#5 Skip business cards, connect now

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I purposely leave mine at home because I want to connect now. Ask for their email and tell them you’re sending your contact info. Title the Subject something like “Nice to Meet You-Dallas YP”. When you’re in the office the next day you can go back through your sent emails and send a follow up asking for a next step.

Contributors: Kristin A. O’Neal from Ashton Charles Consulting 

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#6 Get curious

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The most effective career networking tip is to get really curious about the person you're meeting. Ask a lot of questions and keep your focus on the other person. The more you focus on them, the less self-conscious you'll be. Everyone likes talking about themselves to some extent. Don't get really personal, but it's definitely fair to ask them what they love most about their firm, what keeps them up at night, what's their favorite charity, stuff like that. More personal than the basic name/rank/serial number, but not anything they wouldn't want to see in print. 

Contributors:Elene Cafasso from Enerpace

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#7 The “What do you do?” question

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What really helps is having an answer to the What do you do? question that is interesting and compelling enough to elicit those follow up questions and conversations! That's why I work with my clients on professional branding for themselves and their firms. We all have some interesting stories to share and a great idea of who we work with best. Our 30 second commercial needs to summarize that in an intriguing way to make the other party want to learn more. 

Contributors: Elene Cafasso from Enerpace

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#8 Go for quality, not quantity

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I used to hand out as many business cards as possible and quickly introduce myself with a simple Hi, I'm Vicky and I do digital marketing. Blah, Blah, Blah .This doesn't work and surely will not get you any leads. Instead, work the room and target about 3-4 people instead of the entire crowd. Get to know the person by asking them questions about their business, personal interests, and family. People will remember you more if you form genuine connections .

Contributors: Vicky Llerena from Social Vibes Media

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#9 Go for the big fish in the room, not the little fish

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At conferences, I used to target small business owners or solo practitioners who were at the early stages of their business or who came to learn a thing or two at the event. Although valuable contacts, I learned that if you want to target individuals that possess a more influential network, you have to target the big fish in the room. These are usually the speakers, host, or event coordinator. Approaching these individuals should seem natural. Please do not over flatter them or ask for autographs. 

Contributors: Vicky Llerena from Social Vibes Media

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#10 Be Bold and Colorful — literally

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I once hosted a show for entrepreneurs and the topic discussed networking. A good friend of mine, Jeff from Junk-A-Haulics, mentioned that he makes it a priority to wear bright, bold, and colorful dress attire in order to stand out. I laughed at the mention of this advice, but then thought how brilliant this idea really is. It makes sense: people remember the most memorable people at the event. If you wear memorable clothing and deliver a professional presentation -- you will most likely NOT be forgotten among the dead and rotten. Trust me, I know these tactics work because I've tried them myself and I continue to perfect my networking skills.

Contributors: Vicky Llerena from Social Vibes Media

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#11 Look for networking events with a theme or speaker

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Thoughtfully choose what networking events to attend, and look for events that have a true purpose other than just general networking. If you're purely attending an event to get a few cards, you may only find limited success. Some of our greatest successes from events have been those that have an interesting speaker or panel that will attract a wide variety of attendees. Plus, discussing the presentation that you just heard can make for an easy conversation starter! 

Contributors: Laura Cain from Perfect Search Media 

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#12 Proven Strategy

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Step 1: Outline Your Company’s Goals for the Conference or Trade Show

Step 2: Choose the Right Conference, Trade Show or Convention to Attend

Step 3: Prepare for the Conference or Trade show

Step 4: Get Press, Make Connections and Market Your Business at Conferences, Conventions and Trade Shows

Step 5: Market Your Business at a Conference or Trade Show (After it’s Over)

BONUS TIP: Our biggest 2 secret weapons at trade shows are Twitter Lists and Step and Repeat banners.

Contributors: Kari DePhillips from The Content Factory

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#13 Networking Dos & Don’ts

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DO:

  • Give before you get
  • Stop selling start listening
  • Find a buddy to go to networking events with so you can work the room together, it makes it much more comfortable and fun
  • Bring plenty of business cards
  • Send followup notes to best prospects after the event

DON'T:

  • Monopolize people's time or let them do it to you, chat briefly and exchange info so you can follow up after
  • Overshare, let them do most of the talking
  • Get into political discussions with people you do not know

Contributors: Paige Arnof-Fenn from Mavens & Moguls 

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Written by Zak Parker

Article Writer, Pianist, Internet Marketing Enthusiast; I delve into a variety of creative mediums and take advantage of what they have to offer. With experience in SEO, Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing and Advertising, I'm a plethora of general marketing knowledge and enjoy helping those new to the game get their foot through the door. I'm always excited to hear of the latest method, or if the chance presents itself, create my own.

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