3 Proven Steps to Take Your Networking To the Next Level
The people in your social sales funnel need a place to go.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I've always tried to stress that networking is not an activity, but a mindset, and that the easiest way to influence that mindset on a daily basis is to smile. One step you can take to go beyond mindset to action is to join a mastermind, which in all likelihood, will be run by someone else. Another step you can take is to build a platform that is run by you.
What is a Platform?
Simply put, it is a regular gathering that has no agenda other than to share your social capital with others by introducing both old friends and new acquaintances to each other. It can be weekly or quarterly but we've found that monthly events work best. It could be a happy hour, a dinner party, an outdoor excursion, whatever you most enjoy hosting. By making the event deliberately social (as opposed to having a "networking" theme), people will feel more free not just to attend, but also to bring their friends.
How to host your event
Once you've determined the venue and frequency for your event, it's time to plan for your first event and a successful launch of your platform.
- Pre-seed the event with some of your most dependable friends and allies. Make sure they can attend your first event and assist you.
- Get on the phone and make personal invitations. Evite and later Facebook Events made people wary of the random invitation. You can, of course, use Facebook Events to organize your platform, but don't make it the only way you invite people. People will be touched that you took the time to personally invite them via the telephone.
- Apart from the basics of making sure you are there early and that the place is clean, be a good host. This is a lost art and not something that should be taken for granted. This could mean going up to those standing alone and introducing them to others. If people are unsure as to whether to help themselves to food or drink, lead the way and go first so that others know it's okay.
There are three key ways to make sure your event turns into a monthly platform and not just a one-off event:
- Follow-up: Make sure that people who did meet who are relying on you for an email connect get connected. So too, if two people did not manage to meet that you were hoping would, make that introduction anyway, and mention that you were sorry that they did not meet at the event.
- Share: Make sure that you share photos of the event on whatever social networks you want to, be they Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. This allows attendees to amplify your reach and for potential newbies to find your platform.
- Announce the next one: If someone couldn't make it, shrug it off as no big deal and let them know you'll be consistently having these, and you would love to see them next time. Make sure the next event is announced either at the event you host or a few days afterwards. This keeps the momentum and engagement moving forward.
I realize this is a lot of work, as I'm speaking from experience. But the rewards are disproportionate to the effort and "trouble" it takes to organize a platform. People have found friends, met significant others, and, oh yeah, done business together via platforms I've hosted over the years. That is the biggest reward of having a platform, being able to give, and the best networkers know this.