There’s no denying that the digital age has evolved so much that many people don’t even need to leave home to work or conduct their business.
High-speed Internet access, modern computing, and video conferencing technology are just some ways that have become the norm for working and building professional relationships in the 21st century.
Yet, it might shock you to learn that “old-school” professional networking still has a place in today’s digital age. One recent review of statistics conducted by TechJury concluded 95% of survey respondents feel face-to-face meetings are best for forging business relationships.
It also points out some other fascinating statistics that show in-person professional networking makes sense. For example, it quotes a survey from Fit Small Business that suggests 60% of professionals network more offline than online.
When it comes to acquiring new customers, the survey also points out that 40% of sales prospects become paying customers after having met with companies face-to-face. In contrast, just 16% bought from businesses after virtual meetings.
Five ways to improve your offline networking success
Offline networking has undeniably happened long before the age of digital technology, and it’s still crucial in today’s tech-connected world. People can generally convey their messages and foster trust and credibility easier in an offline environment than on the Internet.
With that in mind, if your offline networking skills leaving something to be desired, the following tips and tricks can help you cultivate professional relationships, increase your brand awareness, and ultimately improve your bottom line:
Reimagine your business cards
It’s no secret that business cards are a universal way of giving your company and contact details to other professionals, new customers, and others that might be interested in your brand and its products and services.
The thing is, some entrepreneurs and business professionals don’t pay much attention to how their business cards get designed and produced. If you’re one such person, it might shock you to learn that your business cards could be letting you down.
Business cards shouldn’t just be a medium for providing information. They should also be memorable to the people that receive them! One way to reimagine yours is by investing in die-cut business cards.
You could have yours cut into heart shapes, for example, or to a shape that makes your business card instantly recognizable and relatable to a specific industry or sector.
Research events before you attend them
One thing you should never do is enter a networking event and have little to no information on what it’s about. You will undoubtedly have plenty of notice for a networking event, so you should take some time to do research.
But, what should you research? Firstly, it’s a good idea to research the reason for the event; for example, is it a breakfast networking event? Secondly, you should find out who or the types of people that will be attending the event.
It also makes sense to learn more about the organization or individual hosting the networking event. All of that research will help you prepare yourself and ensure that you mingle with the right people.
Be a good listener
One pet peeve that most people have is when they converse with someone that clearly has no interest in being part of the conversation.
Don’t be one of those annoying folks that tune out people talking to them and merely pretend to listen, adding an occasional nod for good measure! Instead, you should improve your listening skills.
Doing so means you’re unlikely to miss out on any vital information that could come in handy, such as ways that your business could help them solve their problems. Remember: you are there to build professional relationships.
Ask lots of questions
Another thing you need to do when you network with other people is to ask them lots of questions. Folks love talking about themselves or what they’re doing, and the things they say could very likely be relevant to the products and services you offer.
What’s more, it makes people feel more comfortable talking with you and encourages a dialog with them.
Turn your frown upside down
Lastly, the worst thing you could ever do when you’re networking with people offline is having a face like thunder! People are more likely to converse with others that are smiling and have a friendly demeanor instead of folks that look like they hate the world!
Offline professional networking is still a “thing” and is unlikely to fade into obscurity like VHS tapes and zoot suits.