You’ve been to a fabulous Fresh event…now what?

You’ve been to a fabulous Fresh event…now what?

So you’ve attended a Fresh Networking event. Maybe it was speed dating, maybe a hub meeting online or in a café, maybe some Fresh Academy training.  You met loads of really interesting people, made some great new connections and now…well, what are you actually going to do now?

Networking events are great, but without follow up, they rarely lead to real change. Networking is not a one-off event, it’s a longer term strategy. With the right follow-up, and ongoing actions, networking has the power to make a very positive impact on your business. 

Here we explore five top tips to stay connected – how to make the most of the start you’ve made with networking and turn it into a valuable marketing activity to drive growth. 

Tip #1 – Don’t lose momentum – follow up

You’ve had a brief conversation with someone at a networking event and you both want to explore the connection further. Remember that is the point of networking – simply to decide if there’s an interest in talking more. If there is, don’t lose the momentum – arrange that follow up catch up as soon as you can. This meeting is a bit like a first date – it’s all about getting to know the other person. So be curious, ask questions about how they got into their business, how do they help their clients, what are they working on at the moment, who is their ideal client. Listen to their answers. Just like a first date, there’s no shame in deciding at the end of it that there’s no chemistry to warrant taking things further – you won’t be a perfect match with everyone. But if you do want to keep the relationship going, read on for Tip #2.  

Tip #2 – Catch up with your contacts regularly

Regular contact is where strong relationships are built.  It leads to ‘know, like and trust’ relationships – where two contacts understand each other’s business and trust each other with their referrals. Regularity creates familiarity and keeps you top of mind, making it far more likely that your contacts will think of you when they meet someone who needs what you do.  Whilst there’s no hard and fast rules, I work on the basis that maintaining a connection needs at least quarterly catch ups. When you do meet, remember that this is a business meeting – not a social. Of course there’s going to be some chit-chat, but I advise having an agenda where each of you gets to discuss your business, your ideal referral, your issues, so that you know you’re going to have a meaningful conversation. Don’t be afraid to make it commercial – ask about what opportunities you can create for each other, or how you can find partnerships. 

Remember that networking is a marketing strategy – and you wouldn’t take a ‘hit and miss’ approach with other forms of marketing (a newsletter that goes out just when you feel like it, for example!) so think about how you can build the same regularity into your networking. Then get that diary out, schedule in your catch ups and stick to the plan. 

Tip #3 – Broaden your circle – sign up

If you want to broaden your connections and ensure regular contact, then take the plunge and sign up to Fresh hub. These meet fortnightly to give members the chance to get to know each other in a structured, semi-formal environment. Fresh has a structured agenda, and a focus on fun, putting relationships before rules. Go along to a meeting to get a feel for the vibe and talk to other members about what they like and what they get out of it. Check out Fresh Networking for hubs and when and where they meet. 

Tip #4 – Stay connected online

Networking doesn’t have to be in person – social media platforms are a great way to complement your face to face networking and stay connected with a broad network of contacts. For example:

LinkedIn – make sure you have a strong profile on LinkedIn and when you meet someone in person at a networking event, invite them to connect with you on the platform too. Use your profile to publish content that is engaging and useful – it will remind contact of your presence, and what you can do to help their connections. 

Newsletters – when you meet a new connection, invite them to subscribe to your newsletter. This will give them a great idea of how you engage with your clients. Is there scope to  collaborate – recently an accountant, financial planner and business coach from Fresh Networking created a joint newsletter that went to all of their contacts, expanding their reach. 

Facebook groups – Fresh has a Facebook page for sharing news and asking for recommendations. There are many business communities built on the platform too. Do a search, find the right ones for you and apply to join. 

WhatsApp – in Fresh we use WhatsApp groups too – they’re great for less formal communication, for the humour that is essential to a strong relationships, and for arranging those important social events. 

Tip #5 – Technology is your friend
Find that keeping track of who you caught up with and when is a bit of a challenge? Use technology to help you manage your connections. It could be a simple spreadsheet, or a full Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Whatever means you choose, it’s really helpful to record contact names, who introduced you/where you met, contact details, last meeting and what you discussed, and date for next meeting. You’ll find this helps you add structure and rigour to your networking. 

Above all, do remember that  networking is a long-term investment, not an event you go to once and then tick off as ‘done’. It can take weeks, months, or even years for it to really reach its peak in terms of benefits to your business. In fact the real sweet spot for networking is 2-4 years.  

It’s all about visibility – going to an event is like lighting a spark, but you then have to work at keeping the flame burning and getting to the stage of having glowing coals that keep you warm and the referrals flowing in. 

So well done on taking the first step, and attending a Fresh event – now follow our five tips to ensure your networking drives benefit for your business. 


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