Thursday, September 7, 2017

How Do I Make the Most Out of Networking Events?

Cris Drugan, ISA AM, MIPAV[OS]
Are you trying to grow your appraisal business but unsure how to market yourself? My advice is to attend networking events to start spreading the word about yourself and what you do.

Studies have shown that it takes at least six touches before customers consider using your product or service. Wouldn’t you like to double up on those touches by having others mention you in their conversations? Attending networking events gets your pitch to a number of people at one time and allows you short one-on-one time to begin developing relationships.


People need to know and like you before they trust you enough to purchase or recommend your service. Remember, by recommending you, they are putting their name and brand on the line too. It will take time to reach the “trust” stage with your potential customers, but when you get there, the work you put in will be worth it!

Finding the Right Event for You


If you are just starting your appraisal business or are developing your marketing plan, look for the following types of events. Some may work for you better than others and fees range from <$10 per event to yearly memberships costing hundreds of dollars.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Local Chamber of Commerce – membership-based 
  2. Business to Business groups (B to B) - membership-based 
  3. Business Network International (BNI) - membership-based
  4. TEAM Network groups - membership-based
  5. Eventbrite groups – individual and membership-based groups
These types of events are a great starting point. Once you have attended a few and made some connections, you can find other private networking groups to join.

How to Survive (and Thrive) at Networking Events


There are many strategies to working a networking event. My suggestions here follow the “Know, Like, Trust” approach I mentioned earlier.

Here are some important tips to remember:

Listen: Take stock of your interactions with other event attendees and make sure you’re using your time to pitch effectively. Think: What does the other person do? Are you satisfied with their knowledge and expertise? Can your clients use their services? Do you trust them enough to represent themselves and your company professionally? Get to know your potential customers and how you can help them.

Don’t be a chicken: Hurry around to as many people as you can with a fist full of business cards. Introduce yourself, your business, hand them a business card, and ask for theirs in return. Quick and to the point, right? But I’m sure you can spot the drawbacks – you won’t ever reach the stage of “Like” in your relationship with your customers. It’s much more effective to take the time to make a good impression and a real connection with individuals.

The Elevator Pitch


Many networking groups will have events where businesses and individuals can give a short, direct summary of their business for attendees. Developing your pitch can help you not only at these events, but can also ensure you’re able to talk positively about your appraising business at any given moment.

They call it an “elevator pitch” for a reason – you never know who you’ll have the opportunity to meet! Not to mention, being able to speak about your appraising business is an important step in building trust with potential clients.

Here are some tips for developing your elevator pitch:
  1. Keep it short. Due to the number of people who attend some networking events, there may be a time limit on your pitch. Be considerate of others and make sure you stick to that limit. You’ll also benefit from keeping people engaged and wanting more!
  2. Practice makes perfect. Pre-write your pitch, time it and practice it. You’ll sound much more confident when you know what you want to say about your appraising business.
  3. Change it up. Don’t try to list everything you do in 30 seconds. Change it up now and again. Talk about the different services you offer in separate pitches. If you don’t keep listeners engaged, they’ll quit listening!
Having trouble getting started? Take a look at these different styles of pitches, courtesy of the Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) Chamber of Commerce:
  1. The Trainer: Present as if the attendees are new employees and you’re training them on how to market your service.
  2. The Target Market: give specific names of companies you want to talk with, ask them who they know or describe specific types of business you want (or don’t want) to do business with.
  3. The Storyteller: Tell a specific story without using names of someone you helped and what the result was. (Remember, maintaining client confidentiality is part of being a USPAP-compliant appraiser!)
  4. The Comparison: Compare your business to another, without naming them, and show specifically how you're different. Give a list of benefits, quantify them if possible.
  5. The Rambler: Ramble on about unrelated subjects. Win a narcissist award. People will listen, but it won't help you grow your business.
Starting a business as an appraiser can be intimidating, but I hope this post took some of the guesswork out of networking. Remember, it takes at least six touches to make an impression, so keep attending those networking events, building your relationships, and making meaningful connections.

- Cris Drugan, ISA AM, MIPAV[OS]

Chris is the principal of Emerald Art Services LLC in Akron, Ohio. Contact Cris through his website at www.emeraldartservices.com or by phone or text at 234-207-8686. 

Looking for more information that will help you build and grow your appraising business? The ISA Means Business! Toolbox provides tips, marketing guides, advertising materials and more to all ISA members.

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