You are attending an event at the local Chamber next week. You know how it goes. You will spend $50 to go to attend event, you will take 20 minutes driving there, spend $35 on parking, spend your most precious commodity – time – for the duration of the event, then 20 minutes back to the office. That’s at least $85 (not to mention membership cost), 2 hours at the event and 40 minutes traveling to and from. That sounds like a pretty decent size investment to me.
You arrive at the event. You walk through the door and a number of people look your way. You only have 7 seconds to make that first impression… do you look like someone that the people in the room want to talk to? That’s right… 7 seconds. Now starts the numbers game, or what I refer to as, “cold calling in person”. You know what I’m referring to… now it’s time to blindly approach as many people in the room as possible to determine with whom in the room it actually makes sense to have a meaningful conversation with before the event is over.
Stress… anxiety…networking without any purpose at all except to hopefully walk away with one business card that makes sense to hold on to for a follow up conversation. If only the Chamber could have provided the list of attendees first so you could prepare appropriately. But they didn’t. Maybe you will get the list after the event. Maybe not.
THERE IS A MORE PURPOSEFUL WAY TO WORK THE ROOM.
What if I told you that LinkedIn can help you be more purposeful with your networking activities at the event? Follow these steps before your next Chamber event and network better, more efficiently, and with purpose:
- Search for your Chamber in LinkedIn Groups in your Search Bar.
- Join the Group, then Open the Group,
- Click on the number of members (top right corner of the page). This will take you to the list of LinkedIn members that have joined the Chamber Group on LinkedIn. Keep this tab open. This will be ‘Tab 1’ going forward.
- Open a 2nd LinkedIn tab in your browser. This will be ‘Tab 2’ going forward.
- In ‘Tab 2’, click on the word ‘Advanced’ directly to the right of the main search bar at the top of the page.
- In ‘Tab 2’, Advanced People Search should now be open on your screen.
- In the ‘Relationship’ filter, choose both 1st Connections and 2nd Connections. 1st Connections so you can view who you already know that is a member of the Chamber group on LinkedIn, and 2nd Connections so you can view which professionals in your warm market are members of the Chamber group on LinkedIn.
- In the ‘Group’ filter, choose the Chamber group.
- Now choose the remainder of the filters that make sense for you based on your ideal client profile for prospects, clients, referral partners, and centers-of-influence.
- Click ‘Search’ on the bottom left corner of the ‘Advanced People Search’ filter screen.
- Results will populate based on the filters you have chosen – these are the professionals you have decided you would like to meet at this next event based on your specific criteria.
- Be sure to check the profiles of the professionals that populated in your results. Double check that the filters you have chosen are pulling the results from their current position, not a past position.
- From ‘Tab 2’ copy the name of the professional from the search list you have populated. Go to ‘Tab 1‘- (the tab with the group members page open). Paste the name of the professional into the ‘search box’ at the top right of the list of members.
- In the bottom of the box that populates, you will see options to Follow | Send Message | Connect.
- Click ‘Send Message’
- Title the message: ‘Networking Opportunity’
- Enter the Message. Here’s an example of what you might write:
Hello (Enter the name of the professional),
I see you are a member of the Chamber as well. I will be attending the event next week and am reaching out to inquire if you will be attending also. I’d love the opportunity to chat for a few minutes to learn more about you and your company. Will you be attending the event as well?
Send the message.
This will result in 1 of 4 of the following:
- Nothing. That’s right. It’s possible that you will not receive a response. Let’s be realistic!
- Your new contact will reply back that they will be attending and would like to meet with you at the event (after all – everyone wants to meet people at the event, right?).
- Your new contact will reply back that they will not be attending the event, but reviewed your LinkedIn profile (make sure your profile is making the right first impression!) and would like to meet with you at some point over the next few weeks.
Tips for Result #2:
- Be sure to ask for their cell phone number before attending the event.
- Download the LinkedIn app on your smart phone before attending the event.
- Do your due diligence. Check out their LinkedIn profile before the event. BE PREPARED.
At the event, pull up their profile photo on your LinkedIn App on your smart phone. Find them in the room. Walk up, introduce yourself, and respectfully ask if they have time now to talk.
If you cannot find them in the room – not to worry! You have their cell phone number, remember? Send them a text or give them a call and alert them of where to meet you in the room.
My recommendation is to space these meetings out by 20 minutes. If the event is a 2-hour event, then schedule your time appropriately to meet with 3 people per hour. This will give you time to locate them, meet up, speak for 10 minutes or so, and determine whether to schedule time after the event to continue the dialogue. Be mindful of their time also. Don’t forget that they are there to meet other people as well. 20 minutes will also allow you some down time to reconnect with people in the room you already know, grab a drink, run to the restroom, etc.
Stop being reactive at these Chamber events. Start being proactive. Network with purpose and maximize your ROI!
- Be the first to give to your new business relationships
- Always pay it forward
- Network with purpose.
Good luck and good networking! Remember… It’s All About Leverage.
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