As an agency owner, effective networking skills can both enrich your career and be a fantastic source of leads. It’s not just about collecting business cards; it’s about forging meaningful connections, creating opportunities and staying in touch with your industry. But, as with anything, if you’re going in without a strategy, you’re unlikely to make the most of your dedicated networking hours. Here are a few of our tips for maximising your networking opportunities and how to set yourself up for the most leads possible. 

Prepare for your networking ahead of time

As the old adage goes; fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Doing some foundational thinking and research ahead of networking opportunities can be really helpful in making sure you maximise on every opportunity which comes your way. Consider the following…

What are you hoping to get from networking? 

Before diving in, consider; what are you actually trying to achieve? Likely, leads come into it somewhere, but forming partnerships, or staying informed about your industry are also valid goals. Whatever your goals are, make a list of them before you go in. Consider the event or meeting you’re going to – how can you make these goals as easy to achieve as possible? 

  • Who exactly are you looking for at these events? If you’re hoping to meet clients, going to an agency-owners event is only going to see you meet other agency owners. Consider the group of people you’re looking to make connections with, and ensure the event or platform you’re networking through is relevant to them. 
  • If you were to meet your dream client at this event, what exactly would you want on hand to be able to give to them?
  • Do you have a way of sharing your details with people easily (think: business cards – we love digital ones!), 
  • Do you have some collateral (e.g case studies, partnership packs) ready to email to someone they might be relevant to?
  • Are you looking for any skill sets in particular (eg. a speaker for an event you’re hosting, or a company to outsource a particular set of work to)
  • Who is going to be at the event? If the event has any pages where you can see other attendees, research other attendees and get an idea of who you might like to talk to. If you want to be really prepared, you can make a list including their images to remember who they are!

Networking avenues to consider

Attend Industry Events

The most obvious one is attending conferences, seminars and workshops, which provide excellent opportunities for agency owners to network. Attend events relevant to your industry to meet potential clients, partners, and industry influencers. Don’t just stick to your comfort zone – approach new people, join conversations and actively participate in the event. 

Host Your Own Events

Take the initiative to host your own networking events or webinars. This not only positions you as an authority in your field, but also provides a platform for like-minded individuals to connect. Hosting events allows you to curate a network centred around your agency’s expertise and positions you as a facilitator in your field. 

Online Platforms

Networking doesn’t just have to be at conferences and in-person events. The digital world has given us a whole host of options when it comes to meeting like-minded individuals in a business setting. If you don’t have the time or inclination to show up to networking events in person, join industry-specific forums, participate in LinkedIn groups and engage in discussions on social media platforms. 

How to foster strong network relationships

Build and Nurture Relationships:

Networking isn’t just about collecting contacts; it’s about building and nurturing relationships. Take the time to follow up with contacts, send personalised messages and stay connected. Be genuine in your interactions, show a sincere interest in others and be open to sharing both successes and challenges. Building a strong rapport can lead to collaborative opportunities and long-term partnerships. 

Offer Value First:

Instead of immediately seeking benefits from a new connection, focus on offering value. Share insights, provide resources, or introduce them to someone in your network. Establishing yourself as a valuable resource fosters genuine connections and reciprocity.

Seek Collaborations and Partnerships:

Networking is not solely about self-promotion. Look for opportunities to collaborate with other agencies or businesses in complementary fields. Partnerships can open new doors, broaden your services and increase your chances of being front-of-mind for referrals.

Referral Programs:

Create a referral program for your agency. This will encourage satisfied clients and partners to refer your agency to others. A well-established referral program can seriously expand your reach through word-of-mouth recommendations; one of the leading ways agencies get new business. 

Stay Informed and Share Insights

Position yourself as a thought leader, by staying informed about industry trends and sharing your insights online. Publish articles, contribute to industry publications and speak at events. Being recognised as an authority in your niche will naturally attract networking opportunities and increase your chances of getting those all-important referrals.

Remember, effective networking is not just about who you know but how well you can cultivate and leverage those relationships for mutual benefit. We want to know your favourite networking experience through the AC… Did you meet someone who turned into a great partner or client? Let us know on the AC’s Slack channel!

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