Earlier in the month, I had a client inform me that I was "An asset" to the company I work for, before proceeding to spend half an hour talking to my boss about how I was crucial in solving a problem for his own business that day. Not only did this make me feel wonderful and give me my ego boost for the day, but it gave me an important networking opportunity. Too many young people, and people in general, underutilise the opportunities simple day-to-day and face-to-face networking can provide for them.
When I set off to begin my journey in this online marketing wonderland, I didn't actually start off by looking for jobs online nor did I scour the newspaper want ads - I sorted through my business cards. I researched companies I had connections with to see what their needs might be. I made phone calls, sent e-mails and even met a few people in person just to say, "Hey. I'm looking for job opportunities in this field. This is my resume. If you hear of anything please let me know." Within a month I had four meetings set up just with companies who were affiliates of my contacts. I had about a 50% return on the people I contacted who know me in a professional manner. How many jobs do you usually apply for online before you get 4 call backs? How much time do you spend on average completing each application?
Your face-to-face affiliates can consist of your customers, your co-workers, your suppliers and distributors, property managers and maintenance workers. They can also include friends, personal acquaintances and family friends. Especially as we enter the holiday season, get togethers and networking opportunities are at their peak!
In online networking one of the prime goals is to get third party sites to link to your own, and therefore receive more traffic from more places. Face to face networking is the same, and people can link to you through business cards. I love VistaPrint for business cards. They have templates or you can upload your own design. They are quick and easy to order from, and usually have deals to make everything more affordable. You can also order brochures, flyers, postcards and other print-marketing materials to match!
Are you a student wanting to find work on the side tutoring? Bam!
Are you a designer, wedding planner, or floral artist? Bam! and Bam!
Are you a contractor, property manager or carpenter? Bam!
Do you simply think all of those cards are too busy??? Bam! and Bam! and Bam!
Keep in mind, your business card is like your website's home page. It's part of a business contact's first impression of you, and depending on your relationship with them it is probably the representation of you they will be referencing the most. Include your name, company name or title, phone number and e-mail. You can also include your office address. Once you have them, please make sure you carry them with you! So often I'll ask for someone's business card and they don't have their cards with them, so I never end up calling them and they lose a potential client. What a silly reason to lose business, am I right? Don't be that guy.
How do you get to a point in conversation where business cards even come up? Well, small talk 101 gives you a perfect opening, "What do you do for a living?" Think of this question like a mini job interview. That person isn't asking you where you physically work, they're asking about your professional life in general. Be prepared to answer this with a summary of your current job title, what you're learning through that, and what you want in the future. For instance, my answer for this would be, "I'm in sales, but I just completed my schooling for marketing and hope to launch my own online consulting business in the next year." Concise, but outlines what services you provide now, what opportunities you're interested in, and what kind of an asset you could be in the future. Always, always make sure you ask it back. Marketing yourself isn't just about telling people why you're valuable, it's about deciding who is valuable to you and who it's worth keeping in touch with. While you're both talking about your successful business lives, ask the other person for their card for future reference and offer them yours. It's like asking someone for a date. "Can I have your number? This is mine so you know who I am if I text you." But in a professional way.
Once you have your deck of business cards complied, you are going to filter out those you have an interest in partnering with. These should be the people who can help you, and who you can also provide a service to. Business partnerships are give-and-take, and are only sustainable if BOTH parties are benefiting. The cards you have left after you cut down your deck are the people you're going to follow-up with. Follow-up calls or e-mails should ideally be done within 3 days (this should sound familiar to anyone with a sales background), but if that's not possible then leave it no longer than a week. This follow-up encounter doesn't need to involve anything more than
We met the other night at whereveryoumetthem. I have since looked up your company online and was impressed by your corporate culture and online presence.
I look forward to seeing more from your business and I hope we can keep in touch regarding future business opportunities.
Alter anything underlined with your own words, this is just an example. Again, you can relate this to the dating world. When you want to build a personal relationship with someone, you don't go on a date with them and then just wait for fate to take over. If you want to see them again you send them some kind of message saying "Hey, I had a great time. I hope we can hang out again soon." Relationships of any kind will not flourish if they are forgotten about. It's up to you to ensure people remember you, and in a positive way.
Now, business cards are a helpful reference when you're no longer in person, but what if you run into one of these people one day and you know you know them but you can't remember their name or what they do or why you actually wanted to remember any of that? Well, then you're in for a rather awkward and unproductive conversation, aren't you? I always try to remember the person's name, and at least one life event that they mention during their initial conversation with me. Admittedly, I'm better at remembering the life events than I am people's names.... Oh well, there's always room for improvement *sigh* Regardless, there are a few techniques to make name memorization easier!
Repeat the person's name back to them when they say it to you, and say it throughout your conversation with them to really engrain it in there, for instance:
"Hello, I'm Cassidy. What's your name?"
"Hello Cassidy, I'm Bill."
"What can I do for you today Bill?"
"Well Cassidy, I need a razor."
"This is my selection of razors, it was so nice to meet you Bill, please let me know if you need anything else today."
Obviously this is a rather bland and typical retail example, but it gets the point across. It will sound weird to you at first because we don't generally use people's names that frequently in conversation, but it is very helpful when trying to memorize one.
Another way of memorizing names is to link the person with a memorable character or scene that will remind you of their name. For instance, I have a customer named Dennis and I remember him because when we met I imagined him walking down the street hand-in-hand with Dennis The Menace. One of my customers named John I remember because my grandfather's name was John. Harold I remember because when I look at him I think of Harrod's department store. Remembering someone's name is one of the most flattering things you can do for them. I recommend trying both of these techniques, and even looking up others, to find one that works best for you.
In summary, face-to-face marketing can be utilized productively by:
1) Introducing what you do for a living, what you are currently learning, and what your future career goals are.
2) Exchanging business cards.
3) Memorizing your new contact's name.
4) Following-up via phone or e-mail within 3 - 5 days.
If your New Year's Resolutions involve receiving a better job or growing your own business, everyone is a potential lead. Good luck! :)