Have you ever wondered how to land clients that can pay you what you’re worth? In short; the answer is networking, but let’s back up a bit before we dive in. If you’re new to writing, chances are you’ve heard more than your fair share of “starving writer” stories, but that doesn’t have to be the case! With the right marketing plan, you can easily attract companies who would love to hire you (and have the budget to do so).
Think of marketing as simply showing up and offering solutions to people who have a problem that you solve. If that definition of marketing resonates well with you, please take the time to read Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. While I am a fan of using social media for marketing (aka offering solutions), the truth is that my largest contracts come from in-person networking opportunities.
That’s why I’m here today; to teach you how to leverage networking events.
Where to Start
As a health care professional, we tend to over complicate things. You may not want to start until the perfect conditions magically align, but trust me; there’s no such thing as perfect. Start where you are. You can start by using Eventbrite, Meetup.com, or even your community newspaper to look for local in person networking events geared towards your target audience. Reach out to the event planner and ask if they have a need for a presenter. Be prepared to tell them how you can serve their audience. To make the most of your efforts, have a way to track your reach outs to the planners and if you do not hear a reply in a weeks time, remember to follow up. I try to follow up at least twice.
After Getting Booked
Once you get booked for your speaking opportunity, your work has just begun. Your presentation should have a call to action that includes an invitation for the audience to sign up for your compelling offer. I’d also encourage you to design a simple downloadable freebie that supports your topic. You may also wish to have a clipboard with sign up sheet that is clearly marked with why your attendee’s should sign up for your e-mail list. Related, I suggest having a value rich e-mail follow up sequence ready to go designed for your specific audience. The the goal is to make the most of your valuable time while networking. I would block a few hours out after your event. I also block time for “coffee chats”, so I can set up meetings with people while still at the event.
After the Presentation
During your time that was blocked for post event work, take out your new contacts. Enter these into your Contact Relationship Management (CRM) System. This system can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet, but having a system to track your contacts is super important. Be sure to enter these contacts into your email follow-up system and set up a time to make phone calls if this there was a lead of particular interest.
While this may seem like a lot of work for a local presentation, the truth is that not many will put in this much work. Use this fact to your benefit! Showing this type of consideration for your audience will be easily remembered. By increasing the number of exposures to your expertise, you will easily stand out to your audience as a valuable resource.
By following these exact steps, I recently sent out an invoice that was almost double my monthly nursing salary. By keeping in touch with my group attendees, one thought of me when someone in her circle had a need. When she heard of this need, she thought of me, found one of my many emails, and reached out to me. This was not the first time business has resulted from my keeping in touch with people after our initial meeting.
In the business world, this process is called business development. There are teams of people who are sent out to networking events with the goal of making new contacts and developing quality relationships. As a small business owner, we are a business development team of one. A virtual assistant can help with many parts of this process and can allow you more time to follow up with potential clients. They may even help with the follow up reach outs and setting appointments for you via email or phone.
I hope you found some of this information helpful to you and your business! We would love to hear about your “keep in touch” system!