You wouldn’t treat yourself to a beautiful pot plant to brighten up your home and then not water it.

So, why would you make the effort to meet someone at a networking event and not continue to nurture the relationship you went out of your way to initiate.

Both the new pot plant and the new contact need careful attention if they are to grow and flourish.

Sunshine, Warmth and Water

The obvious nutrients to care for your pot plant are sunshine, warmth and water.

What are the equivalent nutrients for nurturing a networking contact?

Sunshine could be commitment to regularly attend the same networking event, hoping that your paths might cross again so you can further develop the relationship with subsequent conversations. Of, course there’s no guarantee you’ll see them again.

Warmth could be an email after the networking event saying “lovely to meet you, I enjoyed our chat” PLUS connecting with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

Water could be the content that you post and the likes, comments and shares that you make with your connections.

Therefore, to boost the return on your investment in networking (time, effort and money), it makes sense to connect online and continue to network in the virtual world.

Networking in the virtual world

I recently received this message via LinkedIn:

Hi Nicola,

I’m looking for some help in giving my business a kick-start, saw your post from last week and realised this very much spoke to me!

Could we have a chat over the phone sometime this week?

Kind regards, Stephen

I met Stephen (not his real name) just once, 7 years ago at a networking meeting!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to wait that long for a contact to become a client. I’ve had many connections that have taken years, as well as lots that have taken just months to convert to clients. Had I not connected on LinkedIn and stayed on their radar, they would have limited idea about how I could help them and would have completely forgotten about me when the time was right for them to ask for help.

Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA)

AIDA is a marketing model that explains the stages a prospect must go through in order to become a client.

At the start of the relationship your new networking contact (or a new connection made on social media for that matter) has only just become aware that you exist. They don’t know anything about you and are unlikely ever to buy from you or recommend you. It’s far too early in the relationship, they don’t know enough to make a decision.

The next step is to provide information that piques their interest, answers their questions and makes them want to find out more. They need to see that you understand their problems and that you empathise with their frustrations and the pain they feel. Sharing your stories, helps them to understand the kind of person (or company) you are and the values you uphold.

Confidence in you, your team, your product or service can be explained through client stories, testimonials and reviews. Building trust that you’ll do a great job. Igniting the desire to take the bull by the horns and do something about whatever is bothering them and ask for help.

Tell them what you’d like them to do next; email, send a message, call, buy a ticket. Make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch.

Like the pot plant, if you miss out any of these steps and don’t give your connections the attention they need, the relationships will shrivel and die.

Nurturing connections on LinkedIn

Hopefully, now you can see how important it is to create content and engage online for building strong relationships with your networking contacts.

Consistently delivering relevant, interesting and informative posts on LinkedIn allows you to take your contacts through the AIDA steps.

Being in the right place at the right time is another major factor for success.

Today, your contact may not need you (or know someone they can recommend you to), but months or even years down the line they will do. By sharing valuable content and being consistently visible you will remain on their radar. When the time is right, you will be the obvious choice.

You can have it all for free!

And the best bit (just like sunlight, water and warmth) content, engagement and LinkedIn are FREE!

When you consider the £1000s you spend networking why wouldn’t you use a tool like LinkedIn to allow your connections to get to know, like and trust you and boost the return your your networking?

Getting Enquiries from LinkedIn

If you’re not sure how to use LinkedIn for connecting, nurturing and generating enquiries you can learn an easy to implement 3 step process in my next LinkedIn workshop on 3rd April, 10 am to 12:30 at Reigate Manor.

There is a small cost for this, only £37, which you will make many times over as your contacts convert to clients.

You can buy your ticket for Getting Enquiries from LinkedIn workshop on Eventbrite.