Value-add catch up: Register to attend an event and invite your contacts
Attending an interesting event is a superb way of meeting new people and stimulating your thinking with new ideas. Invite five of your contacts to make it even more beneficial.
What is "Take Five Minutes"?
In this series I want to encourage you to take just five minutes out of your busy day to set yourself up for bigger, better success.
People wonder how they can make their dreams come true: very often, it's a matter of working out a way of making a small dent in a big ambition, putting the right systems in place, and making sure that it's easy for these systems to work.
I will share my own systems, so that you can test them and see whether they work for you.
If you want to share a five-minute system with my readers or indeed give me feedback on how this is working for you, tweet me @SusanHayes_
Remember, it only takes five minutes, right now, to change the course of history - your history at least!
Value-add catch up: Register to attend an event and invite your contacts
Attending an interesting event is a superb way of meeting new people and stimulating your thinking with new ideas. Inviting five of your contacts to attend with you will make it even more beneficial.
Cultivating opportunities is an absolute core activity in your business. A great strategy is to be on the lookout for interesting events. I have done this for years and it is a very effective, very enjoyable way to plant the seeds that will grow your business.
Inviting your contacts to attend an event with you is highly beneficial:
- It's a value-added catch up with your network
- It's a way of refreshing your thinking by discovering new ideas and by discussing them with other people who will bring their own perspective
- It can work great as an alternative to coffee or lunch, for example when you don't know the contact very well yet and you want something less intimidating than a one-to-one conversation
- You are in effect creating your own mini-networking opportunity by helping your contacts meet one another
- And it helps you feel more confident when walking into a room full of strangers - you already know some of these people!
Plan your "business social" calendar to cultivate opportunities
Look up interesting events on Eventbrite or at a nearby university; you could even register for a conference over several days. You can watch out for networking events, but also events that have built-in learning: a conference, a workshop, a keynote, a presentation, a lecture...
Choose an event that sounds like it has added value; it doesn't even have to be business-centric. How about doing something completely out of the ordinary, like attending a talk about art history, or a free concert, or a book launch? This could be a great opportunity to discover something completely new, and to discover a different side to your contacts, too.
Register, and let your contacts know you are going. Email or call five people you had been meaning to catch up with (clients, prospects, coopetitors, people you met via networking...), with the details of the event, and suggest they join you.
You get to learn something new, catch up with great people in your network, and add value by sharing an interesting, thought-provoking event.
Networking with new people + within your existing network + learning = Win-win-win!
If you've been shy about attending networking events because you feel unnerved about walking up to strangers and introducing yourself, taking your "posse" with you is the perfect way to feel more confident!
You are also increasing the potential for interactions, since you're not on your own: each of you can talk to a new person, and then introduce them to your group. If there's five of you, each new person you talk to can result in five introductions.
At the event, you will also be able to cultivate existing contacts and get to know them better. You will have no problem finding topics to talk about, since you can discuss what you've just learned at the event. And discussing it will not only anchor the new learning in your memory, but also spark new ideas.
Going to an event with a contact you don't know that well yet is perfect for breaking the ice. It's exciting to meet a new business contact, as we have an intuitive feeling this could be the beginning of a great collaboration. However, we're not quite sure how to proceed. Going to an event can be a great way of getting to know the person better, as you exchange ideas and discuss the presentation you've just attended.
"Look, I really don't have the time to go swanning around the city at lectures and gallery openings!"
Yes, it can be difficult to fit in that kind of event on top of running a business and taking care of your family. However, you don't have to do it every day of every week - aim for a frequency that works well for you. Can you do once a month? Once a quarter? We can all plan to have a free evening once a quarter to go to an interesting event.
The thing is, it is essential to make the time to network within your network, to open yourself up to serendipity, and to keep up with trends. Your business and your career will benefit a thousand times from new ideas and deeper relationships.
Related: Read my Twinterview with Mary McKenna for her answer to "How do you always maintain relevance?"
"People in my circle of contacts just don't do that kind of stuff, they will turn me down"
Yes they might, people are busy. That's why you're writing to five contacts, so that there is at least a chance that somebody will go with you. You're also stacking the odds in your favour by inviting 5 people at a time to a worthwhile event: you're creating your own mini-networking event.
Let each of your guests know who else you have invited. They will very probably be interested in meeting each other, especially if you can engineer it in such a way that you choose five contacts that have a good chance of "hitting it off".
You are positioning yourself as a maven: somebody that people want to know, because you can connect them to other people, and because you're that person who always knows about interesting events.
"I will never find five people who want to listen to a keynote on the future of this or that... They're just too busy!"
Yes, but you're making it worth their while to attend, because your offer is very targeted. There is a time for open-ended offers to go for coffee, and sometimes more focused offers work well, too.
After all, wouldn't you make the time in your diary to attend an event like that? You're offering your contacts a golden opportunity. Thanks to you, they can meet a select group of people where it will be easy to "break the ice", since you can do the introductions. People won't have to walk up to a stranger and introduce themselves out of the blue.
And you're taking on the role of curator: you're making their life easier because you have pre-screened an event that might be of interest to them. Rather than wasting time sifting through the myriad networking events we could attend, wouldn't it be great if somebody went to the haystack and came back to us with the needle we were looking for? That's exactly what you are doing by pointing out a worthwhile event to your contacts.
"Sure why go to just any event? I could be running myself ragged attending them all - won't I just be spreading myself too thin?"
Don't let yourself be distracted by "FOMO", the fear of missing out. You certainly don't need to attend all the events: indeed, there are so many that there will always be another one, so don't be afraid to pass on most of them.
"What if they all cancel and I end up having to go on my own?"
You will have a fabulous evening, learning new things and meeting new people - and then you can follow up with an email: "How sad you couldn't make it, it was a great event! The speaker had some fascinating points to make about A, B and C. I met someone who works in X industry, you might be interested to meet them. There's another talk next month if you're free?"
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