Last week, we talked about the reasons why you should invite guests to your networking meetings.
This week, we’re talking about how to do it. Here are several good options for increasing your chances of successfully inviting someone to your networking meeting.
Personal testimonial, “word of mouth” advertising, is probably the most effective way to pique a potential visitor’s interest in your network. When you find yourself in a conversation with a business associate, ask where s/he finds business leads. Mention your network as a good source of leads, and give an example or two to prove the point.
“Sweeten the pot” by mentioning several members of your network who might be good contacts.
Set a specific date for your guest to attend. If possible, select a date when the program speaker has a presentation of particular interest to your guest.
Reassure your guest that the meeting, while informative and interesting, will also be intriguing. Does your group have special features that make it unique or fun? Talk about it!
Note that your networking meeting is an excellent way to promote your guest’s business for free. Encourage your guest to prepare that “elevator pitch” to provide a concise description of his or her product or service.
Enlist your guest’s support by extending your invitation to a meeting where you are speaking, or filling some specific role.
Present the invitation as a bridge to effective collaboration. If you know a printer who needs a good proofreader, or an interior designer looking to partner with a Realtor®, offer to introduce your visitor to a potential collaborator at a meeting.
Pair the networking meeting with another activity before or after the meeting: a movie, reception, fund-raiser close to your meeting in time and location that provides a comfortable transition.
The key to extending an invitation that a guest will be happy to accept is to match features to your guest’s interests. Think about what convinced you to attend your first meeting. Ask others in your group what convinced them. Armed with that research, your invitations can’t fail!