Grow your networking group via LinkedIn

08 Sep 2018

I really wish you hadn’t invited me

Said no one. Ever.

There are plenty of reasons for inviting new people to your networking group whether it’s 4Networking or another format. New contacts and, hopefully, new members mean more opportunity for everyone. And that includes the people you invite so it’s a win-win. No one has ever said to me that they wished they hadn’t come even though it may have proved to be a one-off.

How can you do it?

There are loads of ways such as using Eventbrite, posts on local Facebook groups and on LinkedIn plus those you meet at other events. But, in my experience, the best way is to actually reach out to local business owners and directly invite them. And this has to be a planned activity, not accidental, in the same way that prospecting is in your business.

Here’s how I do it

Targeting. I use LinkedIn and, in particular, Sales Navigator Professional which is one of LinkedIn’s premium packages as it has a more sophisticated search capability eg postcode and radius but you can use the basic version with its postcode town search; just be aware that some of your results may not be as relevant in terms of practical distance. Also, you may reach your commercial search limit if doing this daily and you can’t save your search

Then I set up a search within 10 miles for business owners and directors of companies with up to 10 employees as this, in my experience, is the profile of the person most likely to attend and benefit. Of course, plenty of employees, particularly those in sales, attend networking events but I think that’s generally at the request of the directors/owners ie the decision makers so that’s who I contact initially.

Messaging. Next, I send a connection request to up to 50 profiles in the search result with just enough information that, if the invitee reads it (they probably won’t) they will get what it’s about but won’t feel spammed ie “It’s a networking meeting, would you like to visit?” Typically half will accept.

Very few people even see the message that accompanies the connection request. That’s partly because they get a My Network alert which tells them of the request but no Messaging alert. That’s why it’s necessary to send a follow-up message after the invitation is accepted and this generates a Messaging alert which pretty much guarantees the messages will be seen and read.

The second message in this case just needs to be along the lines of “Did you see my first message?” which tends to elicit a “Sorry, I didn’t. Tell me more” or something similar or perhaps a “Thanks but no thanks.” If it’s a positive response I now have permission to tell the other person the relevant details of the meeting and hopefully get them along.

If you are struggling to get visitors along to your meeting, why not try the wording in the picture at the top of this article?

Please get in touch and let me know how you get on. I’d love to know how it works for you. Remember, no one will wish you hadn’t bothered.

Will this work for anything else?

Yes! You don’t have to use this technique just to grow your networking group. You can use it to grow your business. These are the 3 key steps.
1) Know your target audience and find them on LinkedIn
2) Construct a connection message and follow up message that includes just enough to start a conversation.
3) Connect and start that conversation. If it’s done right, enough will accept

If you are not sure how to carry out any of these steps, whether for inviting to your networking meeting or for finding new prospects, please get in touch as I’d be happy to help. It’s a bit more bespoke if used to promote your business.

All 3 stages need to be well planned and executed. You can, of course, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message. If I don’t see the invitation message, I’ll be sure to notice your follow up!