“Be the first to bring value to a new relationship.”

That was one of many top tips given by networking expert Stefan Thomas’ at our Club-Wide Online Meetup! In conversation with Bradley Hatchett, the pair discussed…

• The biggest myths about networking

•,How long networking takes to ‘work’

• Learnings from networking online

• How to follow up effectively

And much more! Read the transcript or watch the full Q&A below.

Thank you to Care for Veterans for sponsoring the meetup!

Bradley Hatchett and Stefan Thomas

What are the biggest myths about networking?

People judge ROI in the wrong way. The networking event itself should be the start of the conversation. People try and get the whole of the conversation into the 90 minute/2 hour event. People think they should turn up and come away with sales. It doesn’t work like that.

The biggest myth is that when people start networking, it’s going to be a room full of people waiting to buy from them. That’s not the case.

How long does networking take to ‘work’?

People can make sales early on if they get it right. It’s an interesting one though. If I turn up at an event and never get in touch with the people I meet ever again, it’s going to take years. It’s not about time, it’s about immersion. How much effort you put into building relationships will reflect into how quicker it will be. 

It’s important to put in the effort to build trust with someone. 

Networking has had a drastic shift to online. What have been your biggest learnings from online networking?

Hybrid is a word we’re going to be a word we’ll hear a lot more of going forward. A lot of companies will be combining the both. For me, I’ve saved countless hours and thousands of pounds not travelling! 

Couple of things I do: when at a networking event, whether speaking or presenting, I make sure I look directly into the camera. I also have a little notebook next to me that I’ve spoken to follow up.

Do you feel the principles of networking have remained the same online? 

The imperative to follow up and keep in touch with people after events is even more important now we’ve moved into virtual.

Putting effort to keep in touch with people afterwards, to bring value to the conversations and then make sure people know what you’re selling. The importance of what happens after the event is even greater now we’re virtual.

In general terms, what people do after a networking event is always much more important than what they do at it in any case.

How do you follow up effectively?

Not everyone who arrived at the networking event today doesn’t want to be followed up by you. Thats where we get confused.

It’s not about following up, it’s about keeping in touch. You’re not chasing people down to buy from you, you’re keeping in touch for the sake of continuing to build and strengthen your network.

What I train people to do is: connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn, strive to be the first to bring value to a new relationship. Whether that’s a piece of content that person could benefit from, whether it’s a recommendation or referral you can put in their path or simply spotting something on the news you think they could talk about.

Within those value add pieces, I include a small advert so people can learn a bit more about me.

Where people get confused is when they treat everyone in the room as if they’re a prospect. It’s not the case.

If they’ve expressed an interest, make sure you follow up. For everyone else, keep in touch!