Speed networking isn’t an entirely new concept but, doing it virtually - well, it’s kind of taking off. Now, if you haven’t been to a traditional speed networking event, don’t worry you’re not alone. The idea is to cut down the small talk, get straight to the point, and create as many opportunities as you can. But, one thing that can make or break the experience is if everyone is on “self-serve” mode. Networking doesn’t mean deal closing, it means expanding your network and the opportunities that are available to you. At Cannack, we have decided to put together a few helpful tips to consider before attending your first virtual networking event.
Preparation is Key
To make the most of your time, you need to be well prepared, efficient and goal oriented right from the get go. This means determining the outcomes and preparing the message that you want to deliver. One example might be to find dispensaries operating in specific states. While this is a good objective, it’s not very specific and should be narrowed down even further. A better example might be to find companies who directly work with dispensaries. Of course, it’s rare that you’ll connect directly with a dispensary but, you’ll want to be aware of those who may have good connections to them.
Time is of the Essence
At first, it’s going to feel awkward and unnatural but, once you get into the swing of things, you’ll quickly start to see how fun and valuable it actually is. However, more often than not attendees can get too caught up in the “speed” element and come off impolite. Just be mindful of the time you have together and allow enough time for the other person to speak. Of course, talking first does have it’s advantages but, being last allows you to analyze the situation and quickly determine where you can find opportunity within the relationship.
Focus on Helping, not Selling
It’s easy to be in sales mode 24/7 but force-feeding prospects with a product or service they don’t want or need can put a certain level of pressure in the room. But, when you focus on helping and not selling, you will quickly see the desire and will from others to help get what you ultimately want. Some call it reverse psychology but, this technique creates a more open-minded way of building a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved.
Prepare your Pitch
Have a list of bullet points about who you are, what your company does, what you’re looking for and how you can help others ready to go. Think about the most important things you want to communicate and the type of lasting impression you want to leave people with. Try to refrain from describing all the services you offer and how you’re different from the rest. There’s no need to explain it as if the other person is just getting into the industry. We all have a general understanding of how the supply chain works and can do our research online to uncover the facts.
Keep a Pen and Paper Handy
The majority of us have been to more conferences than we can count on one hand but, if there’s one thing that most people lose sight of, it’s keeping track of the details. Try to jot down the other party’s name, common denominators, their goals, connections or any little detail that might make your follow up even more personalized. This will help you be perceived as attentive, trustworthy and interested in helping.
Attending the event might be a good way to break the ice but it doesn’t close the deal, following up is where the real magic happens. Not only do you need to be consistent and have a multi-channel approach but, you should have a systematic way to organize and segment the contacts that you collect. Using a CRM is a great way to do this as it helps to track all communication that you have with your leads. If you use a tool like Hubspot’s Sequences, you can even automate the majority of the follow up process which can save you time, money and make you look more efficient.
There’s a lot to consider when attending a virtual speed networking event but, there’s also a lot of value that can come from it. The relationships you start, the conversations you have and the doors that can be opened are unlike any other type of event. It requires you to put yourself out there, get on camera, meet new people, and be uncomfortable in the most awkward situations. But, the more you focus on helping others the more opportunities you'll continue to create for yourself.