Although I love speaking in front of groups, I know it scares the pants off other people. In fact, when I teach at the college, I have often had a student in tears about having to give presentations.
But speaking in front of a networking group can be an invaluable marketing strategy. In this great video Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, gives five tips for overcoming your fear of speaking at networking events. I hope you enjoy the video.
If you’ve been on LinkedIn for more than about 5 minutes you’ve probably started to receive invitations from people you don’t know. So the question is: should you accept those invitations?
LinkedIn states you should only accept invitations from people you know well. But should you follow LinkedIn’s advice?
While this is a personal decision, I’d like to suggest that yes you should consider adding people you don’t know to your list of connections. Here’s why:
Maybe you do know them
When you get an invitation from someone you don’t know it could be that you’ve just forgotten how you know them.
Now ideally anyone who sends you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn will personalize the invitation and include a note about how you know each other. However, we know the ideal situation doesn’t always exist in real life. If someone is relatively new to LinkedIn they may not know that they can personalize the invitation. Or they may just be lazy and assume you remember who they are.
Gathering a stack of business cards at a networking meeting isn’t the way to grow your business. It’s a way to add more clutter to your office.
Seriously – having a superficial conversation then grabbing their card does you no good.
If you are one of the rare people who actually does something with the cards you collect you’re still not likely to get results. If you email this person it’s SPAM. They won’t remember you and didn’t ask for the contact. In fact, your message may hit their SPAM filter.
You could send snail mail – an actual letter. Better than an email but seriously, what kind of impact will it have if you know nothing about this person and they don’t remember you?
When you’re networking – either in person or online – if you’re doing it right you’re trying to find something in common with the other person. You need to make a connection. Why? Because everyone prefers to do business with people they know, like and trust. We prefer to buy from them. We prefer to send referrals to them. It’s human nature.
How does this work?
Recently I was at a networking event talking to an accountant. We couldn’t be more different. I’m good at math but hate accounting. If I ever have insomnia, an accounting textbook would put me right to sleep.
He was analytical, detail oriented and a planner while I’m more likely to go by the seat of my pants. There wasn’t a real connection there.
Until I mentioned that I’m a big Blue Jays fan. Suddenly his face lit up as he told me that he checks the Jays website first thing every morning. Suddenly we were in a lively discussion about spring training and prospects for the coming season.
We’d made a connection.
That’s why when talking at a networking event or posting on social media, you can’t be all business. You have to show your human side … what makes you tick. It’s those little personality quirks that make us unique and allow us to connect with other people.
I’ve heard time and again that you can’t assume people remember what you do. It’s one of the cornerstones of BNI and any other networking group you belong to. You
need to show up to give people a chance to know, like and trust you. And you need to keep showing up so they remember you.
I had this point driven home to me last week. On Tuesday I posted an update on LinkedIn, including a link to free ebook on internet marketing I created with some JV partners. About an hour later I received an email from a colleague asking if I do training on internet marketing and social media.