in person networking

How speaking can help you build online relationships

Social media for business isn’t always about making connections online. It’s also about making connections in person and then bringing those relationships online so you can nurture them far more frequently than you could if you had to wait until you saw that person again.

A great way to get in front of new people is to offer to speak at events. I do this a fair amount around Ottawa and it has not only been a great way to grow my network, it’s also been a great way to grow my mailing list.

Today I’m going to share a few tips on what I’ve done with in-person networking and speaking opportunities that you can use for yourself. 

Offer to share your expertise

Knowing what value you bring to your audience is key whenever you’re marketing yourself and your business. Come up with a few topics that are in line with your key messages that would be of value to others and offer to share them with the group. This often means a quick 10-15 minute talk, not a full hour or longer.

Some of the main topics that I suggest for myself include:

  • Is social media important for business?
  • Do I need to send email newsletters?
  • How to create a simple plan to simplify use of social media for your business

If you aren’t B2B (business to business) this may feel like more of a struggle, but it's doable, especially if you do the work to find the right event.

  • Share personal stories of success that incorporate what you do. This way you’re sharing a lot about your business while also providing them with value.
  • Find events that make more sense to your group. 

Do you teach “mom and me yoga”? Reach out to  some breastfeeding groups, early years centres, pre-natal workshop leaders, etc. and offer to do a 10 minute talk on how to relax, find calm and maybe go through a few simple poses on your own.

Do you clean houses? Find an event that helps promote work life balance and share tips on how to stay on top of cleaning without feeling overwhelmed.

Do you sell shoes? Find some women’s events and offer to talk about the latest fashion in boots or how to transition shoes when fashion changes.

Tips for speaking

If you don’t do much speaking the idea of getting up in front of a group of people and talking about something, even for ten minutes, might feel really scary. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Make basic notes (bullet points) so that you don’t end up reading a speech instead of talking to the crowd.
  • Have a hand out that you can refer to and look at. It becomes a prop and something to help you stay on track when you lose focus.
  • Find someone friendly in the crowd to look at whenever you feel overwhelmed or nervous. There’s always at least one friendly face in the crowd.

How to then get online

One of the biggest reasons you're doing this is so that you can start connecting with the people you're meeting online so, here are a few things to do during and after the event to do that:

  • Tell people what you do and carry around a paper newsletter sign up sheet and ask them to sign up to keep getting more free valuable content from you on a regular basis.
  • Connect with the people you meet within a day or two on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Let them know it was nice to meet them and that you'd love to keep in touch.

Leave a comment letting me know what kinds of events you've found speaking opportunities at and how well you do at bringing your in-person networking contacts online after the events.

Join us tonight for a Twitter chat about email newsletters from 8-9pm using the hashtag #wwcnewsletters. Twitter chats are a great way to learn a lot in a short period of time AND meet some great people to stay connected to online!

Small business resources: in-person networking opportunities

One of the biggest opportunities with social media, in my opinion, is building on a relationship you recently formed in person.  For example, you meet two people at a local networking event in the pring and then see them both again at the same networking event in the fall.  

You remember talking to the first person and maybe even think you remember what they do, but you don’t remember their name.  You smile and awkardly tell them it’s nice to see them again and wonder if someone else will walk up so that you can hear this person introduce themselves to that person so you don’t have to admit you can’t remember a thing about them.

The second person tweeted you that very day to tell you it was nice to meet you and then connected with you on LinkedIn within 48 hours.  Since then you’ve chatted about some of the articles he’s shared and he’s asked you a few questions on what you do based on your tweets and LinkedIn activity.  When you see them again, for only the second time ever in person, you feel like you know them well.

Today I’m sharing three ideas for ways you can get out into your local business community to meet other small business owners and potential clients.

Networking clubs

You can join a networking club.  Some require weekly attendance, and some don’t.  These types of clubs give you the opportunity to really get to know a group of business owners so you can build a network for referals.  Each club will never have more than one person in your industry which means you aren’t competing agaisnt a lot of other people doing exactly the same thing as you do.

While these clubs don’t work well for every business owner, there is a lot of opportunity for business owners who can work together (mortgage brokes, insurance, realtors, home inspectors, etc) to find a a real resource, and it can also be great for someone who works in a less common field (like social media) because you can visit other chapters and promote yourself.

A few examples of these types of groups include BNI, SSN and GR Networking (we’re a member of GR).

Special interest networking groups

There are a lot of groups that cater to smaller interests.  You can find women’s groups, tech based groups, community based groups, industry based groups - the options are limitless!

Here are a few ideas to get you started: has great events just about everywhere.  (We often attend Third Tuesday)

Eventbrite has become a go to place to sell event tickets and is therefore a great resource for finding events to attend.

Women’s networking groups.  Almost every community has them.  We’re a member of a few including the Women in Biz Network and the Women’s Business Network (they’re all called really similar things so good women’s business network and your city and you’ll probably come up with something!)

Your local Chamber of Commerce

Karen and I are both members of two of the Ottawa-area Chambers of Commerce.  I’m a member in Orleans and she’s a member in Kanata. By getting to know other business owners you create relationships that open the doors to not only more customers but more publicity and potential partnerships.  

Right now we’re nominated for a Business Excellence Awards with the Orleans Chamber because of our involvement (and we’d love for you to take a second to vote for us too - we’re in section 14 :)

Where do you like to go for in-person networking?  Leave a comment and let us know!