Using events to promote what you do

Chantal

Do you use events to promote your business? You probably go to networking meetings, to connect with new prospects, but have you thought where else you can go, or what else you can do?

Attending workshops. If you’re attending a workshop as a delegate, you can also use it as a networking opportunity. There will be other business people there and some of them could be potential clients or suppliers. I’ve been to business workshops on a weekday, where people have turned up looking like they’re just going to the shops on a Saturday morning. Not quite the impression you want to give other people, so make sure you make an effort.

Running workshops. Do you run workshops to demonstrate your skills and experience? If you provide a service, delivering a workshop is a great way to show people what you do and how good you are. Use the time to give away advice, rather than spending time telling people what you do, and you will build up rapport with your audience. Once they trust you they are more likely to buy from you.

Conferences. Attending a conference is a great way to learn from the speakers. It’s also a great networking opportunity. Some conferences arrange networking sessions in between speeches, so make the most of. Take plenty of business cards and dress like you mean it. If you can, speak to the speakers too, because you never know who they know.

Open days. Moving offices? Launching a new product? Celebrating a success? Through a party or open day and invite everyone you know. Last summer we celebrated our 10th birthday at Appletree with a party. We put a marquee onto the lawn outside the office, wheeled in a hog roast and poured a few glasses of wine. We invited all our clients, past and present, along with lots of our suppliers. It was a great networking event for us and for everyone else who came – lots of business cards changed hands!

Think about what events you can go to or run yourself, to help you promote your business beyond the reaches of networking.

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Who is Better at Networking – Men or Women?

Chantal

How do men do it?

Having been to quite a few networking meetings, I’ve seen that men are really good at going into a room full of people and starting up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before. They don’t seem to worry, as women do, about ‘getting it wrong’. In fact, they probably don’t even know that there might be a wrong way, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Some men are very good at wearing suits and blending into the crowd. A room full of dark grey and blue suits makes it really hard to remember one from another. No one stands out.

I also think that men keep to the script. They often use the ‘what do you do?’ question because it’s safe and it’s an easy question to get a conversation going. However, men do seem to be quite good at swiftly moving on to telling what they do. Did he really listen to what I just said, or is he just desperate to get on to talking about his business?

Men will often go away from a networking meeting, with pockets full of business cards. Do you ever hear from them again? Do they follow up with the contacts they’ve made and keep in touch with them or do they just put all those cards into a box and wait for the phone to ring?

How do women network?

Women are much more nervous about going into a room full of strangers and striking up a conversation. They’re better at catching up with people they already know – to the point where they might only speak to people they know. They may spend a whole meeting not talking to anyone new.

Women are great at building up strong relationships with people they meet, really getting to know them and their business, before they’ll work together. It can take a long time for a woman to trust you enough to give you her business; and even longer before she’ll recommend you to someone she knows, in case you harm her reputation.

Women care much more about the impression they leave with new people. Did I say the right thing? Did I say the wrong thing? Did I say too much or too little? Am I worrying too much about too much?

I think that women have a tougher time when it comes to working out what to wear. Women can’t just rely on a safe, dark suit. They really have to think about what to wear. Suit or dress? Jacket or no jacket? How much make up? Many women seem to get it wrong, usually by not dressing to impress. The beauty therapist who turned up in jeans and a T-shirt, with no make-up on and messy hair; the consultant in a pinstripe suit who scared off the potential small business clients.

Follow up is much easier for women. With so many ways to keep in touch – newsletters, Twitter, LinkedIn, meeting for coffee – it’s easy to do.

So who does it better?

There is no right or wrong way to network. There are just some ways that are better than others. I don’t think men are better at it than women and I don’t think women are better at it than men. I think we all have our own strengths and that there’s a lot we can learn from each other.