They say affiliate marketing is all about relationships. So, whether you’re attending Affiliate Summit West 2015 in Las Vegas (or any other event, for that matter), you’ll want to make the most of networking while you’re there.
Networking, however, is a rather overlooked art form. All too often – particularly those of us that work on the sales and marketing end of things – we can approach people too aggressively with unreasonably high expectations.
So how do you avoid those pitfalls?
I’ve spent nearly two decades building relationships through conferences, and I’ve never once done it by marching up to someone with an extended hand to shake, armed with a business card.
I’ve done it by approaching people, getting to know them, and trying to determine how I can best help them – rather than trying to see how they can help me.
My more organic approach has led to my contacts list being full of smart folks that I often partner with. So how do I do it?
Here are my three best tips for making the most of networking opportunities at Affiliate Summit West 2015:
1. Don’t Huddle With the People You Know
Yes, it can be nice to catch up with folks you only see at conferences – but those people are already connections, and by spending too much time with them you will miss the chance to meet new people.
Always be sure to introduce yourself to anyone you sit next to, and seek out people you don’t know when you choose your seat. And remember, don’t just strong arm people into taking your business card; collect theirs as well.
Here’s a secret: if you ask for theirs first, they will be much more willing to take yours.
2. Pay Attention to Body Language
You’ve spotted that affiliate you’ve been dying to meet across the room, so you rush over to speak with them. However, they aren’t noticing you because they are deep in conversation with someone else.
Instead of interrupting, perhaps wait somewhere nearby until they are through with the conversation before you introduce yourself.
If they are moving away from the area quickly, give them their space as they may have already scheduled a meeting or conference call… or they may simply need to respond to the call of nature.
Expert tip: There's nothing worse than having someone follow you to the bathroom and continue to speak to you from outside the stall while you do your business. I keep a special list in my head of people who have done that to me. You wouldn't want to be on that list…trust me!
3. Don’t Always Try To “Close the Deal” On Site
Look, we all know you are attending the conference to benefit your business. It’s the same reason we’re ALL here. But ramming your “hottest campaign” down someone’s throat while at the show isn’t the best way to do it.
Dr. Ivan Misner, who wrote “Networking Like a Pro”, suggests you should take the approach of being a farmer at conferences, and not a hunter. Don’t act like you’re shooting into the crowd; you’re not here to get heads to mount on your wall. Instead, take this time to sow the seeds that can grow into a potential connection at a later date.
So forget all that “Always Be Closing” crapola and the uber-pushy sales tactics that it encourages. Instead, give my slogan a try: “Always Be Cooperative“. I bet you that your existing customers and prospects will really appreciate it.
You never get (It’s hard to get) a second chance at a first impression.