One of the necessary parts of owning a franchise is networking. Some people thrive in the setting where they’re making new connections; others hate it.
Love it or hate it, before you go to your next networking event, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’ll utilize your time to grow your franchise. Here are four valuable tips to help you get the most out of your networking.
#1. Solidify Your Goal
Before you plan which networking event you’ll attend next, know your goal. Understand what it is you want to achieve by going to the event.
It’s tempting to make your goal as broad as, “get more customers.” This won’t yield you results. Focus instead on finding strategic partnerships and get specific about what those partnerships look like. At networking events, focusing on finding one or two new people to patronize your business is a waste of time. Use these events to focus on the people who will bring you a significant amount of new business time and time again.
For example, if you have a kid-focused franchise, don’t focus on connecting only with parents. Instead, focus on connecting with other educators or education-centric programs. You could get leads to bring you dozens of new parents and children into your business.
#2. Know Who You’re Meeting Before You Go
Networking events can get overwhelming, especially when the room is crowded with hundreds of attendees. Before you go, check out the organization holding the event. Try to connect there with someone you know. This will be a good way to get an introduction to someone who can help grow your franchise instead of spending your time talking to people who have no reason to work with your business.
#3. Remember the Golden Networking Rule: It’s Not About You (At First)
When you first meet someone at a mixer or conference, start by getting to know the other person. Don’t immediately open with your elevator speech or you’ll instantly turn the other person off. Ask questions and listen when he replies. The more you can connect on a personal level, the stronger the relationship you’ll form. As your business comes up naturally, share what you do, but until then, keep the conversation focused on the person in front of you.
#4. Plan Your Exit
It’s inevitable. At some point in your networking, you’ll get stuck talking to someone you don’t really want to spend your time talking to. This person will suck your energy and steal from the valuable connections you could be making.
Plan your exit in situations like these. It’s okay to fake receiving a phone call and walk away. Or, introduce the other person to someone else who would value from the connection.
To grow your franchise, you need to have a plan in place for how you’ll utilize new connections and meet new people. Without this, your efforts won’t pay off and you’ll feel more frustrated than rewarded. Use these tips to help you make a stronger connection at every networking event you attend.