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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: networking tips

Tis the Season to Connect!

Dave Delaney

8 Holidays Networking Tips

The holiday season is the best time to get out to local networking events to meet new people and see old friends. Get started by reviewing your inbox (and spam folders) for invites you might have missed. Follow this by checking Facebook facebook.com/events for invites and ideas. RSVP and get out there.

8 Holiday Networking Tips

1. Smiles are contagious. Even if you are nervous, your smile will tell people you are friendly and happy to meet new people.  

2. Be nice. Avoid gossip or trashing talking anyone. Look for ways you can help the people you meet. Maybe you can provide an introduction during the event you are attending.

3. Set goals. Think about why you are attending the event. You aren't just attending for the free h'orderves and cocktails. What do you hope to gain by attending? Who do you wish to meet? What would you like the outcome to be?

4. Avoid too many h'orderves and cocktails. This is pretty obvious, but we all know that guy who misses the memo each year. Should you have one too many take a cab or Uber home. Better yet… don't drive to the event in the first place.  

5. Talk to strangers. Get away from the usual crowd to meet new people. The people standing alone don't wish to be alone. If they wanted to be alone they would have stayed home. Go introduce yourself and ask them what brings them to the event. 

6.  Ask questions and listen. When you ask someone a question, be sure to look them in the eyes as they are answering. Make them feel like they are the only person in the room. Ask a follow-up question like, "How did that make you feel?" or "What happened next?"

7.  Don't be a Las Vegas blackjack dealer with your business cards. Ask for someone's business card after you have talked and a connection has been made. Just because you asked where the bathroom is, is not an opportunity to ask for a card. Save some trees by refraining from handing out your cards, unless you are asked for one. Someone else's card is far more valuable because you have their information to follow-up. Otherwise, you are left hoping they follow-up with you.

8.  Follow up. I wrote a post here recently about the importance of following up. Following up is the second most important part of networking after showing up. The longer you leave it, the less likely you will reconnect with the person. This is a wasted opportunity to help them and build a new relationship.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

6 Tips To Create A Killer Networking Group

Dave Delaney

Create Your Networking Group

One of the best ways to grow your professional network is to host your own networking group. A few months after moving to Nashville, I created Geek Breakfast as a way to keep our growing technology community together. Five years ago, I launched Nashcocktail, to connect local social media professionals. You can create a group too, if you follow these five simple steps.

1. Begin with your goals. What do you hope to gain from creating a networking group?

My intention with the groups I created was to connect people and build community. I could measure this by reviewing membership and attendee numbers each month to be sure we were growing.

2. Find an available or underserved niche.

Do a simple Google search to find events in your city related to your niche. Don’t be discouraged if you find groups already exist. You should attend the events to understand how they are run. Ask yourself how your group would be different.

You may also discover a dormant group. Reach out to the organizer and ask if you can take it over. That’s what Jeff Dolan did with the Nashville Filmmakers group. Jeff explains how he did it in my interview below, plug in your headphones and enjoy.

3. Connect with and invite local leaders in the your niche.

I’m a big fan of the FollowerWonk tool. You can use this to search Twitter bios in a specific location. For example, you can search “author” and “Nashville” and find anyone on Twitter around the city, who include author in their bio. FollowerWonk will show you who are the most influential based on the number of followers they have and tweets they create.

Use LinkedIn to search for companies who provide products or services related to your niche. For example, if you are creating a networking group for the travel industry, search for travel agents, hotels, and airlines on LinkedIn. Find the people who work for the companies and reach out to invite them to your group. Once you determine the names of the companies you can also see if you have friends who work there using a simple Facebook search.

4. Use a service like MeetUp, Facebook Events, or Eventbrite to create your invitation.

MeetUp.com is a good site to create a group around a reoccurring event. Facebook Events should be used in conjunction with your Facebook Page to organize events. Eventbrite is an alternative to TicketMaster for event organizers to create tickets.

5. Reach out to everyone you know to announce the event.

Use social media, email, and pick up the phone. You want to promote the heck out of your group to get a good turnout. The first event is important because you want group members to return next time.

You may choose to pay to promote your group’s event on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I can help you with this if you need to better understand how to affordably advertise on these platforms.

6. Poll your attendees before the event to learn more about their specific needs, so you can better serve them.

Use SurveyMonkey to create a short, simple survey. Send it to your members to ask them what they hope to gain from attending your event and being a member of your group.

Sending an occasional survey to members can also help you get the pulse of your group to ensure everyone is enjoying their membership.

Creating and running your own networking group isn't difficult. However, it takes time to grow and nurture your group. Be patient and listen to your members, they will ultimately determine if your group is a success.

If you have questions about organizing your own group and events, reach out to me with a comment below or on Twitter @davedelaney.

7 Tips for Organizing Networking Events and Meet Ups

Dave Delaney

Nashcocktail Nashville MeetUp Mixer featured in the Tennessean

Have you ever wanted to organize your own event? Do you already run an event, but you are not satisfied with how it is going? This post is for you.

I will celebrate the fifth anniversary of my monthly networking event, Nashcocktail, next month. If you’re not familiar, Nashcocktail is a monthly networking mixer for social media enthusiasts and professionals in Nashville, Tennessee 

It all began after the first Social Media Day event. The organizers were not practitioners of social media, instead they were piggy backing off the popular day of celebration for social media pros. A few attendees and I agreed that we should be the ones hosting such an event because we work, live and breathe social media. As we were departing that evening, I came up with the idea. I bought the domain and announced Nashcocktail to my friends the following day.

We work, live and breathe social media

Nashcocktail hasn't been a smash hit every month though. Attendees always have a good time, but I have learned many lessons along the way.

Since July 2010, thousands of people have attended my monthly mixers. Relationships have been born at Nashcocktail that led to friendships, partnerships, jobs and more. The following are seven tips to help you make your event a success.

7 TIPS FOR EVENTS

1. Size matters. Choose a venue that isn’t so big that it looks empty and that’s not so small that the sound is too loud. I held Nashcocktail in a few venues where the sound was just too much. A few people were frustrated that they could not hear the person they were speaking with. Size really does matter.

2. Parking helps. If you can find a venue that has plenty of free parking, your attendees will be that much happier. If not, be sure to provide instructions on where they should park. If they drive around the venue a few times without success, they may end up driving home.

3. Intro circle. Allow your attendees to each take a moment to introduce who they are, what they do and what they hope to gain from attending the event. Point out that this is so people can connect with one another.

4. Highlight your sponsor. I always have my sponsor spend a couple of minutes explaining who they are and what they do. I also promote them like crazy across social media, on our site and in our email newsletters. We love our sponsors.

5. Take a picture, it’ll last longer. I snap plenty of photos at each event. I share them on the Facebook page, so attendees can return and check them out the next day. I always have the next month’s event ready, so they can RSVP while they are there.

6. What’s your name again? I stress that attendees must RSVP on our Facebook events. I do this so they can return and put a name to a face, in case they forgot to ask for a business card.

7. Encourage feedback. I always ask attendees and sponsors for feedback, so I can make the event better. I do a yearly survey to check in, too.

If you’re in Nashville (or visiting), you should join us at the next Nashcocktail. The event is always free to attend, so what have you got to lose? Visit Nashcocktail.com for details.

Do you have experience organizing events? Leave a comment with your own tip please. 

This article was originally posted in The Tennessean.

Interview with the Nashville Business Journal

Dave Delaney

How a Toronto stranger became a Nashville name to knowI was recently interviewed for the Nashville Business Journal. The story is in part about me (a Toronto native) and how I used networking to land on my feet in Nashville. In fact, I share these stories in great detail in my book, New Business Networking. You can read the full article, How a Toronto stranger became a Nashville name to know, on the Nashville Business Journal site. Here are some takeaways the excellent writer, Jamie McGee, shared at the end of  her story.

1. Build your network online and offline before you need it: When you are looking for a new opportunity, you will already have a depth of people to reach out to and an established online profile. 2. Networking is a two-way street: Don't just think about how others can help you; think of it as how to help other people. It usually comes back with benefits later on. 3. Follow up and follow through: Opportunities are found in meeting with other people, but also in staying in touch. If you don't follow up on suggestions or keep in contact, it's a missed opportunity. Delaney recommends Gmail's Boomerang to help with this. 4. Remember names: We all know that terrible feeling of having met someone and drawing a blank the next time we see them, or worse, need to introduce them to someone else. Make a habit of saying their name when you first meet them or use word association tricks that will help you recall a name at a later time. 5. Take notes post meeting: Delaney said he sometimes records notes while he is driving away from a meeting that he can quickly reference in advance of follow-up meetings. He also recommends taking notes on the contact's business card after a meeting that will help in future meetings.

Thanks to Jamie and the Nashville Business Journal.

13 Networking Tips for Conferences

Dave Delaney

Networking at conferencesI love to travel and speak at conferences. It is something I plan to do much more of in the coming months, in fact, I am speaking at an annual conference today. When I reflect on the growth of my business as a digital marketing consultant, I realize that I would not be where I am now without networking at conferences.

The following are 13 tips I have learned to meet great people and grow my network while attending conferences:

  1. Research who will be there. Does the event have an open RSVP? Is there a hashtag on Twitter you can follow?
  2. Try to set up meetings before the conference. Find the people and contact them before the conference.
  3. Promote that you are attending across social channels.
  4. Bring business cards. Don't be aggressive with trying to hand out and collect as many as you can.
  5. Carry a pen and take notes about the people that you meet. I take notes on the actual business cards as soon as I have a quiet moment.
  6. If you travel, be sure to bring the right accessories.
  7. Introduce yourself to others. Don't be shy. They are there to meet people too.
  8. Make eye contact with strangers and smile.
  9. Listen, don't just talk about yourself.
  10. You won't meet people in your hotel room. Spend down time at the hotel bar, restaurant, or in the lobby.
  11. Go easy on the booze.
  12. Bring mints and gum.
  13. After the event, be sure to email everyone you met. Invite them to join you on LinkedIn too.

Did I miss a tip? Add your tip in the comments please.

You Talk Too Much

Dave Delaney

Photo from Flickr by: library_mistressI use to talk too much about myself. My wife would nudge me or give me a "shut up, Dave" look. Sometimes I still find myself doing this, usually when she's not around. It reminds me of the classic RUN DMC song. What I have learned is that asking open-ended questions is always the way to go when meeting new people. Avoid Yes or No questions to allow the conversation to blossom.

Listen. I can't stress this enough. Listen, and perhaps you will learn how you can help them with a problem or task. More on that here.

If you can help then and there, great! If not, make a note on the person's business card. Be sure to follow up with the assistance they are seeking.

I get asked for Linkedin introductions all of the time. This is a great way to help connect your network.

Always look for ways to help people. Can I help you?

Photo from Flickr by: library_mistress

5 Tips to Start Networking Today

Dave Delaney

Your network won't grow by itself. The worst time to build your network is when you need it, so get started now. Photo by hulikal

5 Tips to Start Networking Today

1. Find an event to attend.

It has never been easier to find a networking event. Begin by searching Meetup, Plancast, Eventbrite, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

2. Get business cards.

Be sure to have plenty of great business cards on hand. Don't be "that guy" throwing cards around the room.

Be ready to have them available if someone should ask. You can visit a local print shop or business center to print a few today. I found some good Photoshop business card templates on Vandelay Design's site. If you want to create some cheap cards, you can find some directions on eHow.

3. Practice your pitch.

Take some time to rehearse your 10 and 30 second pitch. Nobody wants to hear your life story (at first). It's good to be prepared to tell people who you are and what you do. How did you find out about this networking event?

4. Listen!

Listen to the people that you meet. Ask questions and don't interrupt their answers. Repeat their names when you respond to help remember their names.

Here are some tips about listening. A bonus tip is to bring a pen. Take notes on the backs of business cards to remember to follow up later. Follow up by considering how you can help the person you met.

5. Don't be shy.

Remember that everyone is nervous meeting new people. It's not just you. Be the first to approach people and introduce yourself. You may feel alone, but you aren't.

Let me know how it goes.

Do you have tips to add? Please leave your tip in the comments.

Photo from Flickr by: hulikal 

Share Your Networking Tips #networkingtip

Dave Delaney

Let's use Twitter to share our favorite networking tips. It's easy to do. Log in to Twitter, and press the button below. Leave a tip with what has worked for you in professional networking.