Planning your team strategy before a networking event will maximize your opportunity.
How often have you been told, plan, plan, plan, then plan some more? We’ve all heard it, but we don’t always heed the advice. Recently, I met a financial adviser who devised a very cool (and highly effective) networking plan. It’s so cool I just have to share it.
“Bob” and his team were joint hosts of a dinner event. You know, a nice restaurant, great meal, mingle time before and after and a sprinkling of presentations here and there. 150 people were invited, 22 of these at the request of Bob’s team and of these, six were felt to be good prospects.
Bob’s plan was pretty straight forward. He and his team of four would attend the event. They determined that above all, they wanted their guests to know that they were very welcome at the event, and very important to their hosts. Bob was well aware that guests at these events often feel as if they’ve been led into a room from which they could not escape, without agreeing to something.
How could they maximize this opportunity, to meet people and to reach the goals they established? Bob decided that each member of the team would make at least one contact with each of their invited guests. These are the guidelines he provided:
- The conversation would be unscripted
- The hosts would not initiate any sales-related conversation
- Host-guest conversations were conducted one-on-one (one host per guest at a time)
- Conversations would be brief enough to ensure that each member of the team spoke with each of the guests and that guests spent a minimum amount of time without an available host
The outcome of the event far exceeded expectations. Each of the guests had the opportunity to engage with each member of the team. Of the six good prospects, four committed to follow-up conversation (a 67 percent follow-up rate). The follow-up rate for the 22 guests was 18 percent. They are still assessing follow-through with other guests that did not commit at the time of the event. By any measure, these results were amazing. What did they do right?
They Made a Plan
Rather than leaving things to chance, they made a plan and set realistic goals for the event. Their plan gave consideration to the likely expectations of their guests. They accounted for the fact that building relationships is essential for the services they provide. With that in mind, they set out to ensure, at a bare minimum, they would make their guests feel right at home.
They Stayed on Target
The idea of five people engaging 22 others in a period of roughly two hours sounds a bit hectic. With the goal set before-hand, the team was able to move from one conversation to another, knowing that the clock was ticking and that they had a goal to reach.
They Were Self-Motivated
As noted previously, they had an intention, a goal if you will. Achieving an agreed upon goal is, in and of itself, is a profound motivator. And so, they were driven to achieve that goal. As we can see, they did just that, and what’s more, they exceeded expectations.
Networking- for many (let’s be real, for most of us) it’s a challenge. We show up unprepared and we hope for the best. Bob’s plan may not suit you, but the result of his efforts will serve as a reminder to us all- planning is worth the effort.