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How to Use Networking for Lead Generation

How to Use Networking for Lead Generation

Lead generation is an intricate, ever-changing process that often requires businesses to adapt and overcome a range of challenges in order to succeed. What’s more, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for any company out there, no matter the industry or the need for new leads. If anything, the constantly changing customer and business trends put greater pressure on brands to find new and re-implement old solutions to new markets. However, there’s one golden rule of lead generation that has persevered through all changes and revolutions: networking.

When you’re in need of new leads to expand your business, attending various networking events is a must. In order to make the most of each and every event in your calendar, look at the following rules that can help you prepare, communicate your services more effectively, and leave a long-lasting impression. That way, you can rest assured that your strategy will be well-rounded enough to attract more people to your doorstep and enable you to start new collaborations successfully in no time!

Identify Your Key Networking Goals

Every process and project in your company needs to have a goal, or a set of goals, and networking events are no different. You’re not just here to meet people and hand out business cards, you’re here to make a meaningful connection and network strategically so that you can realize your short-term, and possibly long-term goals.

It’s important that you create SMART goals just like you would with any other project, because making your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based will allow you to make the most of the networking event. Your goal might be to increase brand visibility, to find the top talent for your team, or to boost lead generation – or it might be all of that combined. The key is to tailor your pitch, presentation, and your demeanor to your goals.

Prepare the Print Materials to Share

In the digital realm, you can rely on your marketing material to spark interest and make your brand memorable, but you can’t expect to achieve the same at a networking event. Rest assured that the people you meet will forget all about your brand and what you do if you don’t prepare some key marketing collateral, such as business cards, brochures, and one-page handouts.

Keep in mind that weaving your brand into all of your print materials will be essential if you want to make your business memorable, which is something that experienced agencies such as Infostarters emphasize in their work in order to create brochures that stand out, follow brand guidelines, and make a lasting impression. Use your print material to support your pitch, but most importantly, inspire people to get in touch after the event.

Aim to Build Bonds, Not Sell

Many eager business people visit networking events in the hopes of selling their product or service, but that’s not exactly what networking is for. Sure, you might be able to make a quick sale here and there, but for the most part, networking is your opportunity to build lasting, meaningful bonds with people that have the potential to become your loyal customers and your biggest brand ambassadors.

Networking is about spreading the word of your brand and portraying your business as an authority figure in your industry, a figure people can trust. Consider the long-term benefits of connecting with the right kind of people, and instead of trying to sell something on the spot, bringing them into your brand family. These are the people that will stick with you for the long haul, spread the word of your amazing business, and help you grow your company on all fronts.

Master the Art of Proper Follow-up

You might be a worthy innovator in your field, or an expert entrepreneur with a long-standing reputation that precedes you. Even with that reputation, your appearance at networking events as well as your communication and promotional skills during them will not be enough to close more deals or make your brand all that memorable. After all, there are so many other factors to consider that will affect your success rate and your ability to inspire more people to remember you, one of them being your follow-up efforts.

The email you send your new contacts should be in line with the interaction you’ve had at the event. If you’ve exchanged contact details in a friendly manner, you can keep the tone of voice consistent and it will help you inspire a response. If you’ve promised to send a case study or even just an educational video you’ve come across, you should honor the agreement, and use the opportunity to establish a rapport. This is also your chance to ask relevant questions, invite them for another meeting, or start a conversation on a possible collaboration – so use it wisely.

No matter how innovative our new lead generation efforts may become, it’s up to you to find ways to be creative and relevant with the existing and timeless methods such as networking, as well. Use this simple guide as your go-to for crafting a perfect networking strategy, and you’ll come home with dozens of business cards and numerous contacts that you can pursue to expand your business in the upcoming year.

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by Elaine Bennett // Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. Besides that, she's a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more people and help them on their business journey.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.