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Top 10 tips for business networking – summary of Portsmouth B2B Expo 2018 talk

This is a shortened version of the talk that CEO Emma-Louise Munro Wilson gave at the Portsmouth B2B Expo 2018.

There are 3 things you need to get across quickly when networking:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How you make a difference

So who am I? Hello, My name is Emma Wilson and everything you need to know about me is on LinkedIn.

What do I do? I run a successful marketing agency called EMARI. You’ve probably never heard of us and that’s ok because 100% of our business comes through referrals and social media and that’s the way we like it.

How does EMARI make a difference? We don’t focus on vanity metrics, we focus on results.

What does that mean? Well, we don’t say “ooh that post got 100 likes on Instagram” or “we have 10,000 followers on Twitter we’re amazing at marketing, let’s pat ourselves on the back!”.  No, we do the “how did that activity affect the bottom line, what’s the next activity planned and does it need to change based on this data?” kind of discussions.

A quick success story for you. Recently EMARI took on a client who was spending £100,000 on outsourced marketing and getting maybe 5, half a dozen enquiries per month which weren’t converting. We’ve slashed their marketing budget by 90%, and in just 6 months EMARI delivered 43% growth year on year.

There you go – that’s who I am, how I work and how I make a difference in just under 60 seconds!

So, how did we do it? Well I can’t give away all my strategies for free otherwise we’d go out of business pretty quickly, but safe to say that face to face networking, a load of videos and using the coffee cup routine on social media played a huge part in getting that result.

The power of social media 

We live in the information age and, love it or hate it, social media reigns.

Whether you’re using channels like LinkedIn or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, people are talking about you on social media. They’re talking about your business, they’re talking about your product or service and they’re talking about their customer experience with you or your competitors. I know this because one of my favourite jobs before I started EMARI, was running global social media for BP. I got paid to spend all day, every day on social media, interacting with the 2.5 million people that followed the various channels that we owned and checking out what our competitors were doing too. There were hashtags everywhere!

So, yes, I am a big fan of social media and as a true digital native, here’s my first request to you: Please do not waste your time using social media as a digital version of the proverbial soapbox. Do NOT waste your time posting rubbish content out into oblivion hoping someone will see it and take action. I promise you it will take you years to build a big enough following for you to be able to make money from it and it’ll drive most of us nuts in the process. More to the point, there are genuinely so many better ways to use social media that will make you money sooner rather than later.

And don’t think that people are only talking about you on social media, oh no, they’re talking about you at their next networking event, over dinner with their friends; they’re talking about you down at the sports club on Sunday afternoons and at their best friend’s wedding.

You’re here because you want to understand how to do networking better so you can make more money so know this: You have to start actively networking online and offline and you have to work out how to integrate your online and offline activities together to get the best results. In essence, you don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers, you just need the right people in your network.

So, at this point, I’m hoping your interest is piqued and in your head, you’re going “Ok Em, I get it but where do I even start?!”.

So, a random fact which will make sense in a minute: I did a Masters in Theology about ten years ago. What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Now in the Bible, you have the 10 commandments. Today I’m going to give you my top 10 tips and tricks for networking on social media and face to face.

So first things first. You need to figure out:

What is your tinder moment? 

Think about it. We now live in a world where people expect to find the love of their life, or love for the night (there’s no judgement here) by swiping left or swiping right on an app on their phone. Networking is now a game of professional Tinder – you have to give people a quick and easy reason to swipe right for you.

Say it in the length of a Tweet. 

Once you’ve figured out what your Tinder Moment is, you then have to work out how to communicate that… in the length of a Tweet. People want to digest information quickly these days, and I’m talking old-school Twitter here – 140 characters or fewer! It’s a challenge, but it’s doable, and a really good exercise because it saves so much time and gives you so much clarity on what you have to offer.

60-second pitch.

Have you ever been to a networking event where someone has done their 60 second pitch in 30 seconds and it’s been awesome? You’re just like “Ah, thank you!”. I know the thought of doing a 60 second pitch puts a lot of people off going to networking events because they have no idea what to say. And neither did I when I first started.

Free tip! Here’s my own special 60 second pitch formula:

 “Hello I’m… from … I specialise in… I work with…. Helping them to…. For example, *insert recent success story here*… Today, I’m looking for…”.

The fact of the matter is, people still buy from people, and the quickest way to build relationships is face to face. The easiest way to meet a lot of people quickly is at good networking events.

Now networking is often considered a dirty word. Personally, networking events often remind me of the first day of school; walking into an unfamiliar building surrounded by loads of people I don’t know, and that doesn’t really work for me.

Turn up early.

Why? Because firstly you can get your bearings, find out how the session will work and where the toilets are – sometimes that’s really useful information for people who have drunk too much coffee! I tend to make connections with the 2 or 3 people there (they’re usually the organisers) so use that time effectively. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for, and then ask them if they know of specific people that they think it’s worth you talking to. 9 times out of 10 – they’ll offer to introduce you – fantastic! If not, as more people come in, you’re now part of the only group in the room so people will naturally move towards you and introduce themselves. Less effort for you to actually network. Marvellous.

Sell through the room, not to the room.

Nobody likes to be sold to. Ever. We all know it sucks so stop perpetuating the cycle. Rather than saying “If you need X or want to buy Y…” change it up. Say something like “if you know someone who has no clue how to use LinkedIn or Twitter effectively for business, let me know because I can probably make it really simple and easy for them to use.” Remember it’s always easier for someone to recommend you to someone else than it is for them to commit to doing something themselves, especially if it costs money!

The rule of 2. Always give 2 of things: One to keep, one to share.

Random fact for you: did you know that Neilson research suggests that 70% of people trust a referral from someone they don’t know and 92% trust it from someone they do know? Referrals massively increase your odds of getting a sale so push that button hard and invest in it. Personally, I have a tendency to give people two business cards. Why? Because then you can say “here’s one for you to keep; here’s one to pass on to someone you know who might be interested in X or Y”. It’s the same with events; always two invitations or two leaflets. One to keep, one to share. Everyone’s a winner. I have a lot more to say on that but time is of the essence.

Connect on LinkedIn.

This is where the integration starts to come in between online and offline networking. Any time you get a business card, connect with them on LinkedIn. If you’re genuinely serious about wanting to talk to them after the event or whatever, use LinkedIn as your digital rolodex.

Science tells us that at this point our short-term memory usually falls over and we forget everything that’s just been said so quick summary:

  • Find your Tinder Moment
  • Say it in the length of a Tweet
  • Learn your 60-second pitch
  • Turn up early!
  • Sell through the room, not to the room
  • Always give 2 cards– one to keep, one to share
  • Use LinkedIn as your digital Roladex

Don’t be a needy networker!

Don’t go into events thinking “I must speak to everyone and everyone needs my business card! I don’t even know why, let’s just spread them around like confetti and hope they get recycled! It’s like something out of Oprah! You get a card and you get a card and you get a card and I have no idea why we should stay in touch, we’re just networking here!” Don’t be that guy. It’s so annoying and you come across as being completely disingenuous.

Have a “what can I offer?” mindset.

If you go into a conversation thinking “what’s ONE quick thing that I could do that might help this person in some way?” not only do you listen more, you have a better conversation and you start to build real relationships. Perhaps you can give advice or put them in touch with somebody or give them some feedback on their marketing materials. Suddenly you’re making real connections and that is what networking is all about. Suddenly it’s not about giving everyone one business cards for no reason, it’s about giving valued contacts 2 cards so that they can give one to someone else in their network. Same for you, don’t underestimate the incredible value you have to offer people, not just in terms of what you do or what you sell but in terms of your experiences, your knowledge, and your contacts.

Follow Up.

Please don’t send the generic “nice to meet you at the such and such event, let’s stay in touch” email. I hate that email, you hate that email. That email just gets filed away, everyone knows that. Send me something useful based on our conversation or my job or my hobbies. A link to an interesting report, or a blog you wrote about the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (Oh no wait, that was me – I’ll talk about that more in a minute). Send me the 20 app names you thought of on the way home, offer to virtually introduce me to someone who could solve my problem or create an opportunity for me. Whatever it is, always be thinking about adding value. If I don’t respond give it a week and send me something else. That’s where Tip 9 comes in handy:

Do the Coffee Cup Routine.

Do it every day for 15 minutes. It will change your life as far as online networking is concerned. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry, find me on LinkedIn, and ask for a link to the blog where I talk all about it and the LinkedIn Social Selling Index. If you’re nice to me and give me some useful feedback on this talk, I might even send you a coaster!

Be disciplined.

Don’t just say you’re going to do something, actually do it.

You know it’s like anything you want to be good at, you have to be disciplined about practicing it. My Grandma always used to say you have two choices in life: discipline or regret. You either Make Excuses or you Make Progress and it’s so true. Have a goal, don’t make it TOO BIG and don’t think about it for TOO LONG. It could be that you’re going to talk to 5 people at your next networking event, it could be that you’re going to share someone’s awesome blog and talk about how great their talk was today and how you’re looking forward to booking on to a workshop. It could be you’re going to call 5 people and ask them for feedback on your latest marketing materials. Who knows.

Get feedback.

Using feedback to improve things is the key to success in life, and in this context, marketing and sales.

Ask 5 people for feedback on their customer experience and don’t make it a huge long survey with loads of questions because everyone hates those too, no one has time for those. We’re expecting to find true love at the swipe of a button – do you really think I have time to fill out a 10-page survey?

Just pick up the phone and ask them these 3 questions:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10 how would you rate your experience with us and why?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10 how likely are you to recommend us to someone else and why?
  • Is there anyone right now that you think I could help in some way?

Simple. And with that, I think I’m done! So final summary before the Q&A starts:

  • Don’t stand on a digital soapbox expecting people to find you
  • Integrate online and offline networking
  • Work out your Tinder Moment
  • Say it in the length of a Tweet
  • Learn your 60-second pitch
  • Turn up early!
  • Sell through the room, not to the room
  • Always give 2 cards– one to keep, one to share
  • Use LinkedIn as your digital Rolodex
  • Have a “What Can I Offer” Mindset
  • Follow up with valuable info
  • Do the Coffee Cup Routine
  • Make time to network online and offline
  • Get some feedback

And on that note, I would love feedback on today! Please email me or private message me on LinkedIn or via feedback@emari.co.uk. I’d really appreciate it and thanks so much to all of you for giving up your time to hear me talk.

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