By Shawn Collins
We’re pleased to welcome Shawn Collins, cofounder of the Affiliate Summit convention and tradeshow, as a guest blogger. Read on for his take on the importance of networking to help strengthen an affiliate business.
The Internet is an incredibly powerful place for commerce and relationships, but there are some offline experiences that cannot be effectively replicated, such as face-to-face networking.
Sure, we can sort of interact face to face with video chat, and plenty of conversations take place by email, instant message, social networks, and the like, but there is a big difference when you are actually present with somebody.
Here are three techniques to help you make the most of your in-person networking opportunities.
- Be prepared: When you attend an offline event, there are so many potential relationships and opportunities to take advantage of, but it’s key to schedule meetings in advance. Schedules get tight at conferences and other events, so do some homework to find out who will be there and get on their calendars as early as you can. Also, in the weeks or months leading up to these meetings, you should ensure that you have all the marketing materials, business cards, and other support documents you may need. If you need more, get that order in well in advance to avoid expedited shipping fees.
- Plan efficient meetings: In speaking with countless conference attendees over the years, I’ve found that in-person meetings typically run anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. So, you’ve got a tight timeline to accomplish your goals. Have your elevator pitch rehearsed (30 seconds that summarize what you do and what you can do for them), as well as questions you want to ask and answers for things you expect to be asked. Be sure to have a hard stop and honor it, because you’ll both have other people to meet.
- Follow up: After you’ve had a meeting, make a point to follow up within 24 hours with an email that summarizes the points that we covered. Ask for a follow-up phone call, if needed, to work out the plans you’ve made. Also, get some thank you cards and write a short note to drop in snail mail – that final, personal connection makes a big impact.
Meeting and networking online can be quality building blocks for publishers, but taking it offline will enhance and progress that relationship.
Affiliate Summit West takes place January 12 – 14, 2014, at Paris Las Vegas. Registration is now open, and our very own Brian Marcus will be speaking at the event.