Networking events provide an effective way to meet and connect with potential clients. What you need to do when you attend these networking events, though, is quickly determine if the person you are talking to is a “sweet spot” client.
Is this person part of your small business target market?
Is he or she a decision-maker or influencer?
Does this business have the potential to become a regular, long-term client?
To get these answers you need to work the room at a networking event efficiently and productively.
“Working” A Networking Event
At networking events, you want to talk to people that own or manage a small business. These are the people who have the potential to become your sweet spot clients. At the very least, the people you talk to at these networking events should work in, or for, a small business
You DON’T want to waste time at networking events talking to people who work for:
Fortune 1000 companies
Organizations with large in-house IT departments
Government or non-profits
When you connect with a person who fits the small business criteria, ask some subtle questions to determine if he or she meets the sweet – spot profile. Questions to ask people at networking events include:
What kind of systems do you have?
Do folks use a lot of computers at your office?
Do you have a network?
What kind of network do you have?
How many people are on the network?
The answers to these questions will help you lead the discussion and give you a lot of great insight as to where to go next.
The next step is to determine if you are talking with the appropriate person in the organization. A good question to ask for this purpose is, What kind of systems do you use?” If they can answer the question then you can be fairly certain they are a decision-maker or are close enough to the decision-maker to be an influencer. Asking these types of questions at networking events helps you determine if you should push further or walk away.
The Bottom Line on Networking Events
Networking events offer a short window to connect with as many potential clients as possible. You want to use your time at these networking events wisely. By asking direct and specific questions you can quickly determine the sweet – spot potential of the people attending the networking event. If there is potential, then follow-up questions to determine if the person you are talking to is a decision-maker or influencer are in order. If not, then you can be confident in your decision to say goodbye and move on.