For me, networking is about finding the people and firms that I would like to do business with and also recommend to my clients and associates.
Tom Pollard – CEO, Popular Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Need to Get the Word Out
Seasoned business people know what they need to do to accomplish their goals. While always tweaking their marketing approach, they have a good idea about what marketing avenues will work for them. For a newbie, however, finding the right method may be a bit puzzling. Should you use print, direct-mail, radio, or an ad on Popular Pittsburgh? What about a few social media platforms? Cold calling? What about networking? Chances are you won’t put all your resources into one method. But should you consider networking?
The Importance of Networking in Pittsburgh
No other form of marketing has the potential for getting you involved with the business community like networking. The people you meet while networking may not become your customers, but they may introduce you to perfect prospects.
I’ve developed some thoughts about the networking strategies that work for me. Look them over. Some may work for you.
1. I like to walk into most networking events with the intent of giving out two business cards. At most events there simply isn’t enough time to have more than two meaningful conversations. If I walk out of an event with two people to follow up with, it was a good event. I don’t care how many people are there. I only have time for two meaningful conversations.
2. You have to be resilient. You connect with someone while networking and set an appointment to meet for coffee so you can get to know each other a little better. Two days later, you find yourself at that appointment sitting in a coffee shop by yourself waiting and waiting and . . . . Well, you get the point.
I’ve had one or two coffee meetings a month over the last five years and only two people didn’t show. One person called back a day later and apologized. We rescheduled and had a great meeting. The other person called a few days after our scheduled meeting. He apologized, and we rescheduled. He didn’t show up the second time either.
I deal with adults so I’m not going to call or text them to remind them of a meeting. But I will only go to the coffee shops I like, and I’ll always bring a book, just in case.
3. I’ve been to events where I have felt overdressed because I was the only one in the room wearing a tie. The tie can come off quickly. But when you see someone walk into a room and they are the only one without a tie, they look embarrassed. It’s becoming a very casual world, and maybe I shouldn’t care about things like ties, but I do. I like to dress for the group.
4. I always have an elevator speech ready. It changes often, but I’m always ready with a 60-second statement that describes my business.
Here’s my newest one:
When launched in late 2010, Popular Pittsburgh recorded about 550 visits to the site. In 2015, that number rose to over 255,000. Our content ranges from food to urban legends. Engagement time averages over a minute. The ratio of articles to advertisers makes for a great reading experience for our visitors and a great value for businesses paying to get a message out to their market. Pleased with what we have accomplished and excited about our future, I’m sure that when you need information about Pittsburgh, you’ll be on my site. I hope that when you look for ways to get a message out to your market, you’ll consider Popular Pittsburgh.
My challenge to you is to write your elevator speech today. And change it as necessary.
5. When I set up a display at a large networking event, it’s not unusual to end up with a lot of business cards. I take the time to make a note right away about why I have the card. Am I supposed to add them to my newsletter list? Did I say I would give them a call to schedule a meeting? Did they just hand me a card because they were handing everyone a card? I don’t want to stare at a handful of cards 48 hours later and wonder what cards are potential business and what cards should be discarded.
6. I sell to folks I network with, but I never set up a sales call disguised as a “let’s get to know each other” meeting. I would never pull this bait and switch routine on anyone, and I don’t appreciate it when someone I know turns out to be a snake in the grass. When I decide that I have something that could benefit a networking partner, I tell them I have something I would like them to consider. I don’t have to pretend that it’s a “get to know you” meeting.
7. It’s exciting when you make a sale because of your networking efforts. It’s also exciting when you get a call from someone in your networking circle and they ask if you know a great bookkeeper, a plumber who is dependable, or a social media expert that can help them implement a program. If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand networking.
8. I am not patient. I want to go to these meetings and turn the experience into dollars as soon as possible. But I realize that’s not the way things work. My business grows one story at a time, one business card at a time, one handshake at a time, one meeting at a time. How are you going to grow your business?