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When I was first starting AC Inc I hired a business coach to help me narrow down my area of expertise and decide on what I could best offer as far as services. One of the exercises she gave me was to ask those close to me (personally and professionally) what they thought my strengths were.
Overwhelmingly the responses included, “Networking” and creating business connections. This skill has served me well – especially at franchise events and conferences!
After over a year of virtual networking only – I have to admit I’m wondering if my networking skills will be a little rusty!
Even if they are a little rusty, they have served me well for many years and I want to share some of my top tips for networking at franchise conferences so you too can create valuable connections that will help grow your business and build your industry community.
Connect with people on messaging chats before the conference so you know you’ll have some connections right out of the gate. Most conferences have some form of a group messaging platform available prior to the conference.
You can also reach out to us to let us know you’re planning to attend the conference. Our weekly AC Roundtables have blessed us with a community of driven and high-achieving, yet inclusive and humble franchisors who are always happy to welcome one more. We can set you up.
Go out in the evenings. Conferences can get a bit cliquey so you may have to face your fears a bit and put yourself out there – but it’s definitely worth it! When you meet someone who is in the same shoes and you become friends who can help each other in the franchising process it will all be worth it!
When you chat with people throughout the day, ask them what they are up to that evening. You may end up with some invites to join a fellow group or at least an idea of where to head for drinks and dinner to connect with fellow franchisors and franchise professionals.
Deep connections over surface-level conversations. Always – but especially with networking! Leaving the conference with a few deep connections built on impactful conversations is more valuable than chatting briefly with everyone at the event.
Don’t feel pressured to say hello to everyone or move amongst groups rapidly. Deeper conversations will often yield more valuable opportunities and results.
It can be intimidating to figure out who to talk to or how to break into a conversation. My good friend Robert Bruski, franchisor of Ctrl V Virtual Reality Franchising, and I have a fun ice breaker of walking up to a group and simply saying “Hello, can I network with you?” It gets a laugh and opens up the conversation every time. And if the people on the receiving end roll their eyes, they’re not my kind of people.
Robert is the master of networking so if you are feeling unsure of where to start – start by chatting with the king of networking himself!
When you get into a conversation with someone you have never met, I often find it helpful to ask about the stage their franchise company is at and what are their long-term goals, or even just what are they hoping to get out of the conference.
If they end up being an over-talker, you can ask them what type of people they are trying to meet and let them know you’ll keep an eye out and make intros if you meet any (and move on).
Looking for more tips on getting the most out of franchise conferences?
Read How to Optimize Franchise Conferences here.
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