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Networking

Have you ever been to a networking event?

Was it useful? Did you enjoy it?

Most people go to networking events to get new clients. They do not go to networking events to buy something themselves.

So there’s an inherent mismatch in the focus of everyone attending.

However, there’s a way round this problem.

If you go to the networking event with the aim of having a one-to-one with people, things work very very differently.

A one-to-one is not a sales meeting. Instead, it’s a “getting to know you” meeting. This is what my business is about, these are the types of client I work with, this is why I’m good at it.

One-to-ones are a great way to get new clients. But they are a long-term, indirect strategy. We have a one-to-one, then months later I’m talking to someone else. Something they say reminds me of you, I make the introduction and you end up with a new client. And, of course, vice versa.

Once you treat your networking events as the opportunity to have one-to-ones, to get to know people and to look for referrals for people, those events become much more valuable.

It’s a slow burn, it’s a longer-term strategy, but it’s one that works.

And it makes those networking meetings much less excruciating.

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How to boost your numbers on LinkedIn

So you’ve heard that this new fangled social media lark is the place to be. Myspace is where it’s at. Bebo is amazing. Not Habbo Hotel though. That ones just for kids.

Seriously though, each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses and its own audiences.

I’m not likely to find my clients on TikTok, and to be honest, they’re probably not on Pinterest or Instagram either.

So the very first step is to figure out who your audience is and where they hang out, so you concentrate your efforts on the place that will make the most impact.

For me, that used to be Twitter (and I’ve been on Twitter for twelve years now and I love it a lot). But Twitter has changed and now it looks like my audience is on LinkedIn.

I never liked LinkedIn.

I found it stuffy and boring.

But these things are what you make it.

And I’m going to make it work for me.

The strategy I’m using was taught to me by a LinkedIn expert (hi Claire) and then I’ve added bits to it I’ve learnt from others (John Espirian and the amazing Janine Coombes). It takes me about half an hour per day and in three weeks, I’ve gone from about 300 profile views to around 450.

First thing you need to do – make sure your profile page actually sells your services. Make it a sales page. I use a simple copywriting formula called “Pain/Dream/Fix” – what problem does my audience have, how do they wish things were and how do they get from problem to solution? Then end on a call to action – download my free stuff, visit my webpage, message me – choose one.

Then change your headline. When you comment on someone else’s post, the first five words are what people will see – so make sure they grab your target’s attention.

I then have a daily routine (weekdays only):

  • I send out ten connection requests to my ideal audience. No personalised message, just a request.
  • I do at least one post per day – a question, about my mission and values, a video post, a general post and then another question. Two of these should include a call to action at the end.
  • I update my statistics every day.
  • I comment on at least three other people’s posts every day – and the comment needs to be a full sentence of at least five words.
  • Every now and then I like or comment on my own post – this is because people are often reticent to be the first to interact
  • Every now and then I tag myself at the bottom of my own post – this makes it easier for people to get through to my profile
  • At the weekend, I post a quote from a client – but I do it as an image.

About the posts I do

  • Nearly all of them are text posts. These seem to do best in terms of reach.
  • Occasionally I use image posts, but only sparingly.
  • When I do a video post, I always upload the video to LinkedIn directly – never link out to Youtube or somewhere else.
  • In fact – never include a link in a post at all – because LinkedIn wants you to stay on their site, not go elsewhere. If you do want to link somewhere else, write your post, submit it, then go back and edit it to include the link. That way LinkedIn’s algorithm gets fooled and promotes your post as if it didn’t have a link in it.
  • I’ve stopped using automation tools (Buffer, Hootsuite, SmarterQueue) as LinkedIn seems to downgrade those posts so they don’t get seen.

I’ve also switched my profile to “follow first” – there is an option in settings somewhere that replaces the “connect” button on your profile page with a “follow” button. People can still connect, but it’s now hidden away on a menu. I don’t know if this makes a difference or not yet, but the idea is “following” is less of a commitment than “connecting” so more people will follow me and it should share my posts further.

Once a month I clear out old connection requests so I don’t have a huge queue of unanswered ones sat there.

When I’m tracking statistics, I have a spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Post (the first few words, so I can identify it easily)
  • Type (text, image, video, share)
  • Date posted
  • URL (I keep the link to the post just so I can find it again easily – I’ve never actually needed it though)
  • Review on (seven days after it was posted)
  • Views
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Profile views
  • Searches
  • Connections
  • Followers

Each day I fill out my profile views, searches, connections and followers.

Then I look at any posts that are due for review (that is, ones I posted seven days before) and fill out the stats for those.

What I’ve found so far – my profile views, searches, connections and followers are steadily increasing. And pure text question posts get the highest levels of engagement. I’ve also noticed that if you have a badly performing post, the one after it also tends to do badly, and vice versa. So you need to guard any reputation you build up with the algorithm and work it.

That’s what I’ve been doing – it seems to be working so far – but I’ll keep you updated.

How about you?

FEBRUARY UPDATE TO THIS POST: If people comment or like your post – especially within the first hour or so – make sure you respond. That grows the engagement and then LinkedIn seems to promote it further

PS: And if you want to say hi, my LinkedIn profile is here.

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Working alone: how to combat the isolation

There are a lot of benefits to working alone. 

Nobody telling you what to do. 

Nobody holding you up with their incompetence.

And nobody distracting you with office gossip or personal dramas. 

Working alone is great. 

Or is it? 

Running a business can be a lonely place, and it helps to have someone to bounce an idea off, discuss a problem with or get advice from when we need to make an important decision. Even the most anti-social of us can find ourselves missing human company from time to time.

So, if your only conversations in the last week were with Alexa, your cat or the guy that called about mis-sold PPI, then it’s time to get out and mingle.

Attend networking events

Networking is a great way to meet people and build connections. There are loads of events on offer – each with different formats and different people. 

Referral based networking groups are good for building long term relationships and getting more business. 

Peer-to-peer boards tend to be smaller and are beneficial if you have specific obstacles you need help overcoming. 

Industry meet-ups are good if you want to stay up to date and share advice with people in your field.

And, if you really can’t bear the idea of formal networking, then attending an exhibition might be a less daunting option.

Attend a few different events to find the ones that work for you. Even if you’ve had a bad experience of networking, give it another go. Think of it like eating out – just because you’ve had a bad meal at one restaurant doesn’t mean you’ll never try another one.

Work in a public place

Co-working spaces are brilliant for business owners and freelancers who work alone. Not only are they far cheaper than an individual office space, you also get to network with the people you share the space with. 

If co-working feels like to much of a commitment, try working out of a coffee shop, bar, library or even the train station once or twice a week. You get the feeling of being around people all day, but interactions can be kept to a minimum. 

Get training or coaching

Personal development is essential if you want to succeed in business. Look for training courses in your area. Not only will you learn a new skill or build your expertise, it’s also a great opportunity to make some new connections. 

If you want someone to help you get your business to the next stage, a business mentor or coach is hugely beneficial. They will be there to bounce ideas off, hold you accountable and help you reach your potential. Different coaches and mentors have different personalities and styles, so find someone who feels like the right fit for you. 

Need some help?

When I first started out, networking was a scary prospect. Now I regularly attend networking events and training courses. I have also worked with various coaches at different stages of my career and have taken advantage of co-working spaces. 

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now