We’re continuing our theme in the month of April around Networking Strategies. But today we’re talking about old-school networking strategies. I know it’s really easy to think about networking strategies in terms of social media and online networks. But there are actually still a lot of old-school techniques! These are tried-and-true venues that still work, and so I wanted to shout some of those places out.
Of course, if you’re online, kudos to you, the Facebook, the LinkedIn, the Instagram page can all work magic for you. They can help with expanding your reach and exposing you to more and more people. People who could potentially need your services and products.
There is something still very, very powerful about go face-to-face, reach out and touch someone in a very literal way.
It intrigues people and makes them immediately establish that know-like-trust factor with you. And so, I wanted to share some of those resources for face-to-face connections. Especially if maybe you’re tech-averse, averse to social media, and still want to do things the old-fashioned way.
Now, there are four main areas where you can make these old-school networking strategies work for you.
1. Reach out for a coffee date
The first one you may recognize if you read through the marketing blitz posts that listed over 20 strategies for blasting your brand. Tried-and-true coffee dates with any, and everyone you’re connected with. It works especially well when you’re first starting out. But it’s something you want to keep in your back pocket as you continue to grow your business and build your brand.
Sitting down with someone, reaching out for a coffee date is a great way to catch up with people on a very real level.
Why coffee dates should be one of your networking strategies:
- Because one, it’s super casual. People who meet up for coffee aren’t expecting to be sold, and you’re not there to sell them. Instead, you’re there really to share information and to catch up. Let people know what you’re up to. If you have a new service offering, or you’re trying something new in your business, this is a great time to share that in a way that’s not pushy or salesy. It keeps people 1) super excited about what you do and how you’re doing it. But 2) again, pushes that front of mind. So when they do have a need, or know someone who has a need, they’re ready to reach out for you.
- The other thing that this does, meeting up for coffee, or even after dinner drinks with friends, is keeping people connected with you. I think oftentimes, as we build our businesses, as we’re throwing ourselves into this passionate work, we forget about our social life. And those friends you had before you started business, while they may not completely understand your entrepreneur’s journey, they do still want to support you. By meeting up on a regular basis, you allow them to continue to be part of your life in a truly meaningful way. That’s the first one.
2. Find people or events in your niche
Now, the second old-school method is one that I myself don’t use very much, but is one that is very, very popular. That’s finding random collections of people who are in your niche or area. This is something like going to a MeetUp event. So you could go to meetup.com, you search through current events. Search for anything to do with your area, or with your target market, your target clients.
You show up and mix and mingle with others who were there for the exact same reason, just to put themselves out there.
Now this can be terrifying. So if you haven’t read the small talk post from last week, I’m going to encourage you to swing on by there. Check out some of those tips for avoiding small talk. And get really invested in some of those awkward conversations. But going to a MeetUp event is a great way to expose yourself immediately. Going face-to-face with a high number of people who could potentially be great connections for you.
3. Leverage Conferences and Workshops
Now, if you’re not so much into the random collection of people and throwing yourself out there totally cold, then I think number three is going to be a good tool for you. This is leveraging conferences or professional development workshops and opportunities. As a business owner, you are dedicated to making sure you’re top of your game when it comes to your industry. That means you need to be right on top of any new strategies, techniques, trends in your area of expertise. That opens the door for you to be constantly learning and developing yourself professionally and personally. So take advantage of the workshops or events you go to for your own development. Make sure you’re also leveraging that time to truly get to know the others who are experiencing that learning event with you.
That means talking to people at your table when you’re sitting at a workshop.
It could also mean when you are standing in line at the bathroom in a hotel before the main event starts.
Leverage some of those techniques in the small talk post. Find things that are interesting about the other person.
Ask people how they’re doing, how did they hear about it. Or two, immediately reaching out for business synergies.
Creating genuine conversation that could lead to one, building more friendships, so people can end up on your let’s-grab-coffee list.
Oftentimes in these rooms, you find people who are on a similar path to you. They are looking for partners, for resources, or consultants. This is your time to find some of those B2B, business-to-business type of connections, because that’s where business owners are. They’re learning and growing all the time.
A huge way you can leverage this is by traveling to industry conferences, or learning events around your niche. It’s an awesome way to immediately expand your reach and your network by taking yourself out of your normal geography.
I know for myself my go-to right now is the eWomenNetwork. They have their conference coming up in Texas this summer. That’s where you’ll find me if you want to come network with me. But it’s a great way to get immediate, concentrated exposure to business owners across the country. You can then, yes, connect on social media to continue those bonds, but it’s the in-person connection that makes it so strong.
That’s how I found my bookkeeper this year. It’s how I got connected with my local New Jersey chapter for eWomen even though I’m here in Brooklyn. It’s how I’m connected with a woman who makes amazing chocolate in Reno and I’m now going to help her market and sell her brand. Amazing things happen when you put yourself out there.
Pluck yourself out of your normal routine and go to a learning event. Whether that’s in your local neighborhood, or traveling to give yourself some broader exposure and exposure to your network.
4. Find a national or local organized chapter
The fourth tried-and-true in-person networking strategy that I like, is local industry organized chapters. This is where you might join a national organization, or industry or trade association. For me, that also happens to be the eWomenNetwork, they are a national organization. It’s a membership organization, so I do pay an annual fee or a monthly due in order to participate and be a part of their network. But then I get to go to weekly events in my local chapter.
Maybe for you it might not be Entrepreneur Women’s Network. Maybe you’re a man or maybe you’re not quite ready to jump into entrepreneurship. But a local chapter could be your local chamber of commerce, that could be connecting with your local sorority chapter if you pledged in college or after, that could be jumping into the black chamber of commerce, or local business owners, or union membership if you’re still affiliated with the job.
Going to chapter events and local events can help expand your reach because you’re connecting with people right there in your community. These people are highly accessible to you. These people definitely make it onto your let’s-chat-over-coffee list. And most likely, you’re also going to stay connected with them on social media and continue branching out that way. But again, the visible exposure being live in-person with someone is the tried-and-true way to build that know-like-trust factor. Without having to constantly be creating content and putting yourself out there, the way you would on a social media channel or over the internet.
What are your in-real-life networking strategies?
So for the tech-averse, those people who are feeling like social media is not your jam, there are still tons of ways for you to connect with people in real-life and continue building your network. Chat over coffee, find a local meetup group, go to professional development events, or join a local membership organization where you can be held accountable to constantly plug in, meeting new people, sharing your gifts, and expanding your network.
I hope that helps you friends. Please let me know what you decide to do, where you’re showing up to continue expanding your network for in-real-life connection with people. And if it helps you out and you do something, drop it down below so I can follow up with you too.