People often bemoan networking events. There are coaches who’s entire premise is “never go to another networking event again!” So what makes me bring it up? We all know that in person interactions are more effective than interactions over the phone. Video comes closer, only because so much of communication is nonverbal.
If you’ve had a bad experience at a networking event, it’s probably because that event wasn’t for you. It doesn’t mean that all events are bad. You can meet great people and develop long-time relationships. There’s a lot of value in networking events!
When you attend networking events, you need to go with a plan in mind, just like any other type of marketing. This means understanding the sorts of people you will meet at events.
In this podcast episode, I’ve identified the four types of people you typically run into at events.
Here’s the podcast episode:
Or if you’d rather watch the video:
I was with a group of fellow creatives and we were talking about pitching. I was actually able to add to the conversation by talking about something I address in the book I’m working on.
We were talking about networking events and how to determine which ones are good for you. I brought up the types of people at networking events.
Now, most people think that there are 3 types of attendees that you watch out for, but I actually think that there’s a 4th that you should be paying attention to. So let’s talk about some of the typical 3 that most people expect.
1. Prospective Clients
Know Them Before You Go
When you go to an event, you’re hoping to meet prospective clients. That’s a given. I would advise you to make sure you know who your prospective clients are before you go.
Need to develop your buyer personas? Check out this post here.
This is you building your buyer persona. This is the same person that you’d write your blog posts for, that you’d create your website for, that your emails are geared towards. It’s not that other types of people can’t become your customers, but you use this avatar to speak to what you would consider the perfect customer.
Don’t Try to Make Your Services Fit Everyone
Know who that person is before you go. Why is this important? Because if you’re not selling a product, then you run into the issue of trying to make your services fit the person that you’re talking to.
In my case, Defy The Status Quo doesn’t offer standalone social media services. If somebody asks me, “Hey Ruthie, do you guys do social media management?” Could we do it? Yes. Do I want us to do it? No.
I’m clear on that now, but a while ago, I was trying to be too accommodating. I would say, “Oh yeah, we could totally do that!” This was before I got clear on myself and the sorts of clients I wanted.
You want to make sure that these prospective clients are actually a good fit, instead of trying to make your services fit them. That’s not a good place for your business. It also creates multiple heads that you have to manage. If your still trying to figure out what services you should offer, work on discovering your company ideology and values.
2. People Who Are Not Your Clients
You’re expecting these to be the majority of the attendees; the people who just aren’t a good fit for you and your business. There’s a few different categories or subcategories that these people can fall into, but the one you really have to watch out for is the bad networker.
The Bad Networker
There are some people who just attend to try and make a sale. Yes, I know it’s a networking event, but networking is about building relationships. I don’t want to sound corny, but the best business people I know go to build relationships. They’re not going to sell.
Let’s say they’re selling software. Instead of trying to convince me that I need that software, they would be the first to tell me, “Hey Ruthie, this software is actually not a good fit for you, but you could help me.” This is the sort of person I’m looking for. They’re honest with me and consequently, I trust them. Should my business reach a higher level, they’re going to be the first ones I think of.
The best networkers are the ones that build a relationship and develop that trust. Those are the people you want to stay in contact with.
The bad networkers just want to make the sale. This is the person who gives you their card multiple times and doesn’t even remember your name. They might interrupt you during your pitch, which I’ve had happen before.
Just Not a Good Fit
Then, there are some people who just aren’t a good fit. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re just not a good fit. They may fall into the third category though.
The thing about recommenders is that you typically don’t know that they are recommenders. They may have fallen into the first bucket of people who aren’t a good fit for your services, but they may contact you later and say, “Hey, I’ve got somebody who was asking about X service. I know that you do that. Should I introduce you?”
So instead of becoming a person who’s not a good fit for your business, they become a recommender. That’s always great, but you can’t know who those people are. That’s why it’s nice to stay in touch, connect on social media, and do things like that.
The connectors are next to prospective clients. I think that connectors are the most valuable. Unlike recommenders, they are typically easy to identify when you know what you’re looking for, especially if you go to an event where people get introduced.
The Event Organizers
Connectors are typically the event organizers. If they are organizing the event, then they probably know all of the regular attendees. They likely know other event organizers in a particular area, and they could connect you with them as well.
The Event Sponsors
They also might be event sponsors. Companies who sponsor events typically don’t just sponsor one, so they’ve positioned themselves to know many different businesses in a given area. And of course, that area could be very large depending on the size of the business. So event sponsors could also be a type of connector that you’re looking for.
You should also look at attendees who are at an event, organize other events, or head up organizations that hold a lot of events.
The value here is more along the business development side of things. This isn’t necessarily relevant to your sales and your marketing. When you connect with a connector and you’ve got a good relationship with them, then they’re more likely to recommend you to the businesses that they know.
But like I said, it’s hard to identify who’s going to refer you because you don’t know if they’re going to run into a connector. You typically have a good idea of which people they associate themselves with, which people attend their events, and which events the connector themselves attend.
I feel like the connector is a better type of relationship to have because business development is about strategic partnerships. So it’s to your benefit to develop relationships with connectors when possible because they have more potential to refer businesses to you.
Industry or Local Influencers
I hate to use that word because it’s getting watered down. I don’t mean the Instagram influencer, especially when you consider B2B. Maybe they’re someone who writes for Forbes or they do a lot of interviews in your industry. That could be another type of connector to look out for.
Keep in mind the 4 types of people. When you’re looking at an event, you have to consider what type of person is going to attend, and then decide on what your goal is for that networking event. I promise you’re not going to leave with a pocket full of clients at most events, so build that relationship and keep up your social media presence.