Recently, YEC spoke with Luigi about his experiences networking and his advice for others aspiring to improve their own experience. His best advice is below.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Entrepreneurs can often be a bit shy or feel daunted about asking people more successful than themselves for help or an endorsement. What has worked for me over the years is a well-crafted, personalized letter. This will always stand out due to the contrast with the online impersonal age we now live in. Although it may not always lead to a reply, this method has brought me into contact with some of my best colleges.
Build Your Personal Brand
The key to facilitating a casual networking connection into a lasting impact is self-packaging, also known as personal branding. People will often research your background after having just met you. And if what they find is positive, it can lead to many synergies for your company. Networking aside, a strong online presence is of paramount importance. Countless industry experts have written about how cultivating a powerful personal brand can ultimately yield tremendous ROI.
Avoid the Hard Sell
Most people deal with entrepreneurs on an extremely regular basis, so they are accustomed to glib sales talk and slick tactics. Be candid, transparent and honest about your product or service. Authenticity comes from an honest portrayal of yourself. Why did you get into this company to begin with? That is where your best pitch lies.
Attend Industry Conferences
Attending conferences and conventions related to your industry, or even other business-related events, is the single most important out-of-office activity to improve networking. Attending the conference, being a keynote speaker, or having a company booth will enable you to meet and expand your brand exposure and thus attract clients. There are hundreds of these types of events every month, and it is important to actively seek these out and identify which of them would be the most beneficial.
Use Contactually to Simplify the Networking Process
I highly recommend Contactually, which is a CRM tool that is designed to help business people maximize the ROI of their relationships. My favorite feature of Contactually is that it automatically lets you know when important relationships are going cold, so you can take the corrective steps to preserve them. Reaching out could help you land a new job or even win a new contract at some point in the future.
Nail Your Pitch
Before meeting any important contact, you should take the time to learn the key elements of introducing yourself and speaking a bit about your background. This is so important that I know of several entrepreneurs who video tape themselves to help evaluate and tweak what they say. By practicing this, you will be able to impress anyone you meet in a professional situation, from a networking event to a hiring manager.
Focus on What You Have to Offer
I’ve noticed over the years numerous well-intentioned people attend networking events looking to see what can they get out of relationships. Instead, one should focus on what they can offer the people they meet. By doing this, you will not only find yourself having better conversations, but meet many more interesting people. This will lead to additional business deals.