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5 Tips To Rock Christmas Like A Boss

The holidays are supposed to be all about rockin’ around the Christmas tree and walking in a winter wonderland. So why doesn’t it feel very fun at your office right about now?

Since you’re the head honcho and employee management starts at the top, it’ll fall on you to make the holidays go smoothly at your office.

You don’t have to be St. Nick — but hopefully, with a few key tips, you won’t have to be the Grinch, either.

Tip #1: Tackle Holiday Stress Head On

The number one cause of Christmas stress? Well, it hasn’t been scientifically verified, but we’re willing to bet it has something to do with putting off all of those responsibilities until the last minute.

Christmas shouldn’t feel like you’ve just been run over by a reindeer. They’re here for celebration and reflection. That’s why it’s important to get all of the stress out of the way as soon as possible.

Put an end to browsing for corporate gifts and finally click “buy now.” If you don’t know what to do for your employees, start emailing around for some ideas — right now. Whatever’s bugging you, now is the time to handle it.

If that means cramming a heck of a lot of party planning, gift giving, client relations, and new year planning all into the next coming week or so, so be it. Getting as much holiday stress out of the way will only save your sanity… and the sanity of the little elves around you.

Tip #2: Don’t Be the Office Scrooge

There may be no more infamous Christmastime employee-employer relationship than Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge. Although Scrooge eventually learned his lesson about how to treat Bob, maybe it shouldn’t take you an overnight visit from three Christmas ghosts to learn the same?

If you’re a “Type A” personality (and if you’re in charge, chances are pretty good that you are) make a conscious effort to help out employees at this time of year.

Give them the gift of less stress from the higher-ups. As Tina Thygesen of Forbes writes, be flexible with working hours, especially since the holidays can always be a difficult balancing act of work and family life.

Unless your business is in some sort of end-of-year emergency crunch, there’s no reason you can’t take it easy on your employees and use the holidays to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year.

Tip #3: Set Clear Expectations

No matter what you expect from your employees during the holiday season, make sure they know and understand those expectations. When your plan for the season isn’t clear to everyone involved, you run the risk of either:

A. You being disappointed by a lack of productivity, or

B. Employees getting frustrated with the lack of flexibility.

In both situations, there’s a disconnect between you, the manager, and the employees you’re managing. Setting clear expectations and communicating them to your whole team will help everyone effectively plan their holiday and mitigate stress.

Tip #4: Gather Feedback — and Plenty of It

If this is your first holiday season managing employees, you still may have plenty to learn about office dynamics. So don’t be afraid to gather some feedback as you learn your way through your first end-of-the-year holiday blowout.

Even if you simply ask around for ideas on the Christmas party or how to handle scheduling, your employees are there for a reason. They’re there to help you out, and they want the holidays to go as smoothly as you do.

Tip #5: Don’t Pick Holiday Favorites

If you buy your employees Christmas presents, don’t play favorites. It might sound simple, but it bears repeating.

You should always buy everyone the same “office gift.” And if you don’t have the money to do that, don’t buy a gift at all. Every employee deserves to feel valued, after all. By picking out the winners and losers, you just give some employees the feeling that you’re playing favorites. The same goes for granting holiday time off — everyone should have the same flexibility and freedom to ditch the office during the holidays.

Manage for a Holly Jolly Holiday

The holidays shouldn’t be rocket science. But that doesn’t mean you should expect the very best when it’s some employees’ natural tendency to be a little sluggish around the holidays. Let it slide and stick to the principles that got you where you are.

With any luck, you’ll be able to navigate the holiday season with plenty of good cheer. Merry Christmas from your friends at Ignite Security Marketing!

Introducing Ignite360: Caller ID for Your Security Website

Did you know that only 1 to 2% of all visitors to your website will ever complete a contact form or pick up the phone to call?  When you choose Ignite Security Marketing as your digital marketing team, we will get you in contact with the other 98%. Interested leads, delivered daily to your sales team.

How Do We Do It?

Ignite360, a new contact intelligence service from Ignite Security Marketing, turns anonymous website visitors and known contacts into qualified sales leads. When your sales team wants to know who is visiting your website, they are looking for much more than IP addresses and demographic data. They are looking for company names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

Ignite360 can provide you and your sales team with real-time data about who is visiting your website, and the research tools that they need to convert those warm leads into real sales.

How It Works

We provide your business with three options for receiving the visitor information that you need:

  • Instant Email Alerts that are sent directly to you or your team.
  • Our Dashboard (mobile friendly for those who work outside the office) which includes many detailed views of your visitors, traffic patterns, page view times, and more.
  • Reporting options that come in multiple formats and detail levels that include a PDF, and CSV download option for easy editing.
  • Who is on your website.
  • What products or services they are interested in.
  • Where they are from.
  • When they visited.
  • Email you while they are visiting your site.
  • and provide you with a way to send that information directly to your supported CRM.

Only 1 to 2% of all visitors to your website will ever complete a contact form or pick up the phone to call. We’ll help you get in touch with the other 98%

Applications for Systems Integrators

For Integrators and Dealers with a B2B focus, you get instant, real-time alerts about prospective companies that are visiting your website. In many cases, we can provide you with a list of key executives at the company, so that your sales team can follow up quickly and efficiently.

Applications for Security Dealers

Buying Signals: Who, What, Where, When.  In sales, we all know that timing is everything.  Getting to prospects when they are in the research phase will increase your chances of closing the deal.  

For the security dealer with a residential focus, our system can identify known contacts who are visiting your website, what pages they visited, and send instant alerts to your sales team to let them know that one of their leads is engaging with your website contact.

Getting Started Is Easy

Ignite Security Marketing will empower your B2B and B2C sales team to identify and close more sales with prospects and current customers who are actually interested in your security services. No more chasing cold leads or wondering how effective your email campaigns really are.

For electronic security companies who want to empower their sales teams and grow RMR like never before, schedule a demo of Ignite360 today and a free 30-minute strategy session on how inbound marketing and sales automation can boost sales and improve operations.

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and sales force automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing agency of choice for SDM 100 corporations and small to medium security companies around the nation. Contact us today to discuss your inbound marketing requirements.

 

 

Why LinkedIN Matters For Integrators & Manufacturers

A mass affluent customer is exactly what it sounds like: a “massively” affluent consumer who patronizes your business. More specifically, this person has investable assets between $100,000 and $1 million – in other words, virtually unlimited money to spend. So, what is the key to getting the attention of this elusive consumer? Believe it or not, it is the same as any other prospect you are targeting online: social media.

But not just any social media channel. If you are serious about capturing the mass affluent market, then the primary social media platform you want to focus your efforts on is LinkedIn. That’s right; LinkedIn is good for much more than skimming the résumés of strangers! We don’t mean to minimize it; it is a very good recruiting tool to attract new talent you may want to hire.

Pro Tip: LinkedIn is also an effective marketing tool, particularly when it comes to targeting the coveted $100,000+ market. 

Financial:

LinkedIn has actually said so itself. In its latest whitepaper, titled “Influencing the Mass Affluent,” the #1 social network for professionals focuses on how the financial sector can better reach mass affluent consumers. “Almost half (of the mass affluent) engage with financial institutions on social media (44%),” it says, “while one-third engage with content shared by financial institutions on social media (34%).” It makes sense for banks and lenders to live on LinkedIn – at least when they’re doing marketing.

Executive services

According to LinkedIn, the mass affluent use a range of social networks and tools. But, “for professional purposes, they most likely turn to LinkedIn,” the whitepaper says. With that in mind, high level service providers should target new customers on LinkedIn without hesitation. Why wouldn’t someone look for an attorney, insurance carrier or accountant on LinkedIn? It should be the first resource they look to.

Professional services

Even small business service providers can target the mass affluent audience. After all, don’t people of means need construction crews, landscapers and security system dealers? These are essential services. So if you want to reach the mass affluent audience, LinkedIn is a great place to do it. Start by requesting connections with all your local titans of industry. Just tell them you’re aiming to make some connections with local business leaders; there’s no need to tell them too much about yourself, because your LinkedIn page will speak for itself. Some of them are bound to accept your invite, and perhaps look to you when they need a service provider they can trust.

Don’t sell yourself short on LinkedIn; if your company has a LinkedIn page, use it to the fullest by aiming for mass affluent customers. And if you don’t yet have a LinkedIn presence for your security company, Ignite RMR can help you establish one. Contact us today.

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and sales force automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and SMB’s around the nation.

Who Is Your Director Of First Impressions?

You only get one shot at making a first impression.

I am totally bewildered why companies that are supposed to be “sales” organizations do not understand the value of the very first interaction they are likely to have with their prospects.  When a prospective buyer calls your office what is the first thing they are going to hear on that phone call?  If you understand just the basic fundamentals of sales, you know that the first few seconds of that first interaction between your prospect and your company is very important.

I recently called an alarm company to speak with the sales manager…

The recorded message was so negative that I if I had been a prospective customer I would have probably hung up then and there.
This is what the message said;

“Thanks for calling XYZ Security Company.  If you are experiencing a false alarm please touch #1. If you need service on your existing alarm system please touch #2. if you have a billing question please touch #3, If you would like to speak with someone in sales please touch #4.  Please stay on the line if you need an operator to assist you.”

My First Impression? Not Good.

As I listened to the message I was thinking; “Good grief, their customers must have a lot of problems with either false alarms, problems with their alarm systems not working correctly, or billing issues.”

I wish I could report to you that this is an unusual event but I see more and more companies replacing their smiling receptionist with a voice mail system. These companies are spending a ton of money in advertising on the internet, yard signs and trucks and when a prospect finally does call in, all they hear about are negative issues.  Is that really the first impression you are hoping to make with your prospective customer?  I think not.

Your receptionist is your Director of First Impressions.  I highly suggest that you have someone greet your new prospect on the telephone with a cheerful smile and a short sweet positive message.

Want more proven strategies for boosting sales?

For more tips on building your security business, check out my book,Security Systems Sales Leadership: Practical & Proven Techniques That Will Unlock Your Teams Potential”. It’s available in paperback on Amazon. Click here to check it out.

 

What is Your Automated Phone System Really Telling Your Customers?

“Hello, you have reached We Don’t Care Much About You Security Systems. If you know your party’s extension, please dial it at this time. If you don’t know anyone at our company, then sit quietly while we run through a tedious list of departments you don’t want and one or two that you think might be right but you’re not sure. Or press the star key and the entire list will begin again from the beginning.”

Click. 

Are you a company that has decided that the personal touch on the phone is a waste of time and personnel? Did you get drawn into one of those sales pitches about how effective a phone system like this is in managing your incoming calls?

Did you design the recording and responses for the system for the convenience of your customers and potential customers, or for your own convenience? Do you give directions based on the issues customers may be calling for or the names of your departments? How many times does a customer have to push a button and listen before getting to the right person?

“By the way, while you’re on hold you will get to listen to a long list of reasons why you should buy one of our security systems. You may be surprised to find out that we pride ourselves on our customer service. I was sure surprised when they had me record this long and involved process that any current or potential customers have to go through just to get to a real person.”

Is your hold message friendly but not too much like a sales pitch? Do you play sound from a radio station so that people have to listen to ads for other companies, possibly even for your competition? Does your music selection match the tastes of your target market? How long does the average customer end up on hold at your busiest times? Do they have the option of just leaving a message and having one of your people call back when it’s their turn to be helped?

“You may be tempted to dial 0 in the futile hope that you will reach an operator. Wrong. If you dial 0 I will just tell you I don’t recognize that response and start with the tedious list again, and again. There is actually no button that will get you to a real person. Eventually you will get tired and hang up, or I will get irritated with your attempts to circumvent me and hang up for you…and I really don’t appreciate that sort of language…”

If you have a phone system in place like this, do you have an escape clause that allows someone to access a real person if they prefer? Exactly how much time and automated conversation does it take to get to a real person? Have you considered offering the escape clause at the start of the recording rather than the end, so you don’t irritate customers who hate this sort of phone system?

“While you’re waiting, this might be a good time to go online and find out if there are any other security companies in your area that are more responsive…”

Is your so-called money-saving phone system costing you customers? If you set it up properly, it can be an asset, but a casual or unthinking design can cost much more than it saves. It’s probably worthwhile to talk to various customer groups about what they like or don’t like about this type of system, and pay attention to their frustrations when you design yours.

“Thank you so much for calling We Like to Pretend We Care About our Customers But We Really Don’t Security. Please call back any time. My recorded voice is available 24-7 for your convenience and ours.”

Click. 

Ignite Security Marketing  is dedicated to providing inbound marketing exclusively for the security industry. We can help monitor inbound calls for your alarm company so you can refine your processes, increase sales, and improve customer service. Ask us how today: (877) 655-3779.

Grow Your Security Business by Thinking Like a Startup

If you want to expand your established security business but aren’t sure where to start, try thinking like a startup – you know, a relatively new company (it doesn’t have to be in the technology field, although many are). Although a small business that has been around for years is not a startup, it can still maximize growth with a startup attitude. This approach is catching on with many large companies that want to rebrand themselves, and with great success in many cases. If it can work for them, it can work for you. Let’s address some key characteristics of successful startup companies that seem to lend themselves to growth potential.

Accessible Leadership

The first thing that differentiates small startup companies from established corporations is a flatter structure. In other words, there are fewer managers, upper managers and executives to answer to when it comes to creative decisions. In a large company or even just a long-standing small business, there may be a founder, president, various departments with their own executives or upper management, and then, way down at the bottom, the staff that is in the trenches: salespeople, marketers, technicians, etc.

Typically, the higher-ups spend most of their time out of the field, because their job is to manage people. Being out of the field means being out of the loop – and it’s hard to make good decisions when you’re out of the loop.

 

Pro Tip: Controlled chaos is an approach that a long-standing business can use anytime they are adding on a new product or service. Tighter deadlines and an uncertain outcome can force the flow of creativity.

 

Big Company: Small Mindset

By contrast, a startup is usually comprised of a handful of lateral staff; this is perhaps the founders and one or two carefully selected others. They are all responsible for collaborating on the creative decisions, and because they all share the responsibility of growing the company, they fully understand the consequences of those decisions. The benefits of shrinking the hierarchy is something that long-standing businesses can learn from watching startup companies.

Excitement, & A Little Chaos Are OK

The second thing that sets startups apart from established companies is their culture of controlled chaos. That sounds negative, but don’t worry; it isn’t meant to suggest an anything goes, frat house environment. It just means that there are tighter deadlines and an uncertain outcome, which forces the flow of creativity. Also, creating this kind of culture does not require established businesses to throw away their existing models – far from it. Controlled chaos is an approach that a long-standing business can use anytime they are adding on a new product or service. In a nutshell, it is the company culture that comes out of trying something new. No one knowing exactly how things will go, but they are excited to try it and have a measurable goal for success. Of course, there is a timeline for hitting that goal. See? Controlled chaos.

In a nutshell, it is the company culture that comes out of trying something new. No one knowing exactly how things will go, but they are excited to try it and have a measurable goal for success. Of course, there is a timeline for hitting that goal. See? Controlled chaos.

Just there are many things startups can learn from established businesses, there are many things that established businesses can learn from startups. Consider applying these two concepts to your security business; hopefully, they will help you maximize growth to the extent you have in mind.

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and salesforce automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and SMB’s around the nation.

 

Beat The Internet Trolls: How Security Companies Can Respond To Negative Reviews

Perhaps one of the most overstated truths about customer reviews is that they all have to be positive. You want the majority of reviews to be good, because the ratio of good-to-bad reviews is what dictates your star score – and remember, there is a direct link to your star score and sales revenues. But rest assured, the occasional negative review of your security business is nothing to panic about. In fact, most customer review services will contend that consumers trust reviews more when they see several positive reviews alongside a few negative ones.

If you have nothing but glowing reviews for your business, today’s consumers are savvy enough to know that those good reviews could be “planted” (meaning, you are using employees and family members to write them – or worse yet, paying a review writing service to create them). You don’t need to use these “black hat review” practices because it’s normal and expected to see a review from a disgruntled customer from time to time. So, here’s how to handle it when it happens:

ANSWER THE REVIEW

Your punctual, personalized response – one that addresses the specific details of the complaint – shows the entire audience that your business cares about its customers and wants to fix any problems that may occur.

When you respond to the customer who wrote the negative review, you are also speaking to the hundreds of people who will see that review in the future.

OFFER TO MAKE IT RIGHT

As compensation for the customer’s bad experience, you can offer them something of value: a free product, a free a month of monitoring services or even a free upgrade. Whatever you are able to reasonably offer, offer it to show your commitment to remedying the situation. Often, a gesture like that can soften the customer enough to give you a second chance.

ENCOURAGE MORE REVIEWS

If there is one time when gathering more positive reviews is essential, it’s right after you receive a bad one. You want the good reviews to sit right on top of the bad, so they are the first reviews searchers will see. Keeping the good reviews coming in will also ensure that your average star score stays high, despite one or two bad reviews.

Pro tip: most customer review services will contend that consumers trust reviews more when they see several positive reviews alongside a few negative ones.

 

These are the actions to take when you get a bad customer review online. Ignite RMR offers a review generation service that helps you get the good reviews you want from your real customers, on an ongoing basis so that your star score stays high and the revenues keep pouring in.

ABOUT US

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and salesforce automation for the security industry. Since 2009, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and SMB’s around the nation.

How To Write The Perfect Thank You Note For Business

We all think we’re responsible for our own success, but we couldn’t do it without each other. Friends, family, and business contacts give advice, loan money, and provide emotional support. Have you thanked them lately?

This week, thank your customers, partners, and friends who have helped you build your business. Here are a few tips on how to do it with style!

Why thank you notes?

New friends matter when you’re a small business owner. Well-written and timely thank you notes foster relationships. When someone gets a card in their mailbox, they smile. Why do you think people have “thank you cards” hung up around their desks?

We need other people to be successful, so why not work to cultivate positive relationships? A thank you note can do that quickly and easily.

According to a study by Emotion, thanking people makes them more likely to continue a relationship, which leads to more opportunities for you.

Unlike marketing campaigns and website updates, showing gratitude is free. It’s good for new relationships, and winds up being good for you, as well. Gratitude helps us treasure good experiences, deal with conflict, and build better relationships.

Remember: Focus on the thank you itself, not on the materials it’s written on or the potential sale you’ll get.

What every thank you note needs

A GREETING

How to start? With a greeting, of course! Make sure to use the recipient’s name to make the note more personal.

Suggestions:

  • Hi Steve,
  • Dear Steve
  • Steve,
  • Hello Steve,

A THANK YOU

Thanking is the point of a thank you note, so do it right. Be genuine and specific– no backhanded compliments or funny stuff.

Suggestions:

  • Thank you for helping me out with our 7 mile project. Your support made it happen.
  • Thank you for being there for me to talk things through. Your insights and advice made me decide to pursue a business loan.
  • Thank you for advice and for your generosity. Without it, I wouldn’t know where to start with social media marketing.

A PERSONAL TOUCH

A robot can write a thank you note, but it won’t be very meaningful. That’s why you need to pepper in personal touches. Show that you remember details about the recipient’s life (without being creepy!). This shows that you not only listened to them, but care about their well-being.

Suggestions:

  • I hope to see you at a Giants game this summer. I’ll let you know if I have tickets!
  • Take good care of your knee. Hope you’re up and walking soon.
  • Enjoy the sunshine in San Diego—I wish we could share a beer together at the beach.
  • Good luck working on your new blogging project—sounds exciting and I know you’ll do great.

A CLOSING

Now wrap it up! Close with a greeting that feels comfortable to you.

Suggestions:

  • Best,
  • Best Wishes,
  • Sincerely,
  • Thanks again,
  • With gratitude,
  • Keep in touch,

When to send thank you notes

Thank you notes can be sent at any time, but here are some common times that people send them:

  • After an interview. Thank the person who interviewed you. Thank them for their time and for their explanations of the job.
  • After a meeting. After an important meeting, thank the key players for attending and sharing their insights.
  • After events. You often meet new people at events, so thank them for the pleasure of their company and for sharing information with you.
  • Out of the blue. These are the best kinds of thank you notes—totally out of the blue!
  • After a referral. If someone refers a new client or customer to you, take out a note card and pen a thank you note. This will show your gratitude and encourage that person to continue to refer people to you.
  • During the holidays. The holidays are a great excuse to thank people for a great year together.

Common questions about thank you notes

HOW MUCH TIME IS THIS GOING TO TAKE ME?

It won’t take you long to write a thank you note. It will take 2-5 minutes per note.

HOW DO I FIND PEOPLE’S ADDRESSES?

You can always send an individual a note via their company address, and it’s easy to find company addresses on their websites. If you can’t find their address via the internet, send them an email and ask. It’s ok to mention you’re sending a surprise.

HOW LONG SHOULD A THANK YOU NOTE BE?

As short or long as you want, but you don’t need to write a lengthy note to be impactful. Short is sweet—we recommend about 50 words.

DO I NEED BRANDED STATIONERY?

Nope, the thank you is what counts. Branded stationery is a nice touch, but it’s not necessary.

WHAT IF I HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE TO THANK?

If you’re overwhelmed or crunched for time, use a handwritten letter service like Letter Friend or MailLift. You can also hire a TaskRabbit or virtual assistant to complete the task for you.

WHAT IF I HAVE MESSY HANDWRITING?

Don’t worry about it. Your handwriting is yours, so own it. If you think your writing is too hard to read, you can always ask someone else to write the note on your behalf.

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and sales force automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and small to medium security companies around the nation. Contact us today to discuss your inbound marketing requirements.

 

Cultivating A Disruptor Mindset In The Security Industry

You hear it all the time — how this or that business, person or technology is a disruptor. It sounds great, but what does it really mean? Disruptors change the way something is done in a given area of industry, but on a smaller scale, a disruptor can be someone or a business that shake up how things are done in their own area or local. Change is integral to business development, however, if done right you can disrupt the established order in your area. And that is the key to a successful security business.

That Means You

Most people think that being a disruptor is only for the big business, or something surrounding some technology (like home automation). You and your business, in any city, can leverage the disruptor mindset and disrupt the industry in a way that equals success. But you need to get passionate about it. Motivations change and fade. But being someone that changes things around you means having a “mission-critical” mindset.

Solve a Problem

One of the essential elements of becoming a disruptor is spotting a problem for the consumer and solving it in a big way. It can be points of confusion, annoyance, or roadblocks such as accessibility, applicability, and affordability. Look at barriers from a customer’s perspective and then find the best solutions possible.

Don’t Rely on Perfect Timing

Don’t rely on perfect timing. Instead, perfect your timing. Watch the industry and see what is coming ahead. Find out how those changes will impact your customers and work to meet those needs now.

Look For Markets Being Ill-Served

You have probably found yourself wondering why a particularly big business or industry doesn’t better utilize access control or other security technologies more effectively. Instead of wondering, find out why. Chances are they are under-informed and being ill-served. Step in and fill the gap.

Become Visible

A disrupter is anything but quiet and meek. Get your marketing and promotion on and show everyone what you are about. Share your passion with an enthusiasm that can’t help but be contagious. When others see your passion, they know you are passionate about hitting targets and are willing to go the distance for them.

Look at Your Business Critically

Having ambition is not enough for becoming a disruptor. You have to look at your business with a painfully honest microscope. Where are you holding back that you shouldn’t? What aspects are you trying to do but would be better done by someone else? What processes can you change to forge a new way of doing business that will turn everything on its head?

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and salesforce automation for the security industry. Since 2009, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and SMB’s around the nation.

6 Networking Tips To Make Your Next Event Less Painful

If it ever seems like networking events are awkward, it’s not just you. We all struggle sometimes. But how can you make it easier – and why is it definitely worth the effort?

What happens at a networking event? People grow their businesses, make life-changing connections and meet vital influencers. 70% of jobs are found through networking. But sometimes, this just isn’t motivation enough. For those of us who don’t love spending our free time meeting – and impressing – crowds of new people, the whole thing can feel a bit stressful.

When bagels alone aren’t a sufficient icebreaker (have they ever been?) you’ll need a concrete strategy for getting more out of networking events – but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. After all, we can’t all be professional networkers, but whether you’re looking to hire or be hired, you can’t win the game if you don’t want to play it. So, what are the 6 toughest things about networking – and how can you overcome them?

1. ‘I don’t like small talk’

Don’t we all? Make it more natural and find an ally – it’s easier for a third person to join a conversation between others than to start up from cold, so buddy up and let the chatter flow. If you find yourself stuck, drop your guard and get meta – say precisely what you’re thinking. As in, “Man, I am not great at small talk. Isn’t networking kind of awkward?”

Odds are good that they’re thinking the exact same thing, and that connection can spark an honest dialogue.

2. ‘I’m bad at remembering names’

Prepare! Memorize or make notes about the speakers. Find out who’s attending – you could ask the organizer, or check an event page – then open LinkedIn and get stalking. This will also help make sure you spend as much time as possible with the people you want to keep in touch with.

At the event, play a name-recalling game like the meet and repeat: As soon as you meet someone, use their name in the next thing you say.

You can even challenge others to join in. You can quickly unite a small team of strangers around overcoming one of the toughest parts of networking and in doing so, you’ll learn a lot more about them than just their names.

3. ‘I always get shy in big gatherings’

Getting over the first hurdle of saying anything is the typically the hardest part, so put together a little toolkit (a metaphorical toolkit, that is) of conversation starters to whip out when called upon.

We think you can do better than low-hanging fruit like “What do you do?” – ask something deeper to really get to know someone. This is how you make contacts who call back.

Here are a few lines that do the trick:

What are you hoping to get out of this event?

This gets right to the point and allows you both to share an honest reflection.

What’s your story?

This one is fun as it’s so open-ended. Your conversation partner can answer professionally or personally, seriously or frivolously. And you’ll learn a lot from each other about how you interpret the question.

What would you say that you’re known for?

This one is fun because people love sharing what they’re good at and usually love an opportunity to do so – it also lets people move the conversation onto familiar ground.

Hey, do you know how much a polar bear weighs? Enough to break the ice.

(We’re just kidding with that one. Unless you think you can rock it – in which case, be our guests.)

4. ‘I find it hard to approach someone new’

Work your wardrobe! If you’re wearing something unique that stands out – like a brightly colored tie, choker, or that piece of statement jewelry you never find a time to wear – gives people an easy intro to start talking to you, and makes you memorable.

Pro Tip: Take screenshots of a conversation starter and it and make it the home screen on your phone. Whenever you check the time, you’ll be reminded what you should be doing instead, and you’ll actually take steps towards it.

Premium business cards that are unusual or innovative also spark further chat (hint: we design business cards for security professionals) one for you!). It’s one way to be sure you’re the one face that they don’t forget.

5. ‘It’s a waste of my time – nothing ever comes of it’

It’s a cliche, but you’re never going to get more out of an event like this than you put in. If you work it like a wallflower and let others start the conversations, you’ll be stuck discussing whatever’s on their agenda.

So get off the fence and drive that conversation train yourself: are you seeking employment? Employees? Co-founders? Write your intention down – in fact, screenshot it and make it the home screen on your phone. Whenever you check the time, you’ll be reminded what you should be doing instead, and you’ll actually take steps towards it.

And networking doesn’t end with the event – sincere follow-up closes the deal and builds stronger connections. After the event, write down whatever you remember about your new contacts, and send them an email referencing your conversation. Or, if you want to really knock it out of the park, design personalized postcards to send and write your note by hand.

6. ‘I never meet the people I’m hoping to meet’

Did you research the guest list? Arm yourself with a clear intent for what you want to achieve? If so, are you at the appropriate event? Not all networking events are created equal, and often, the lower the barrier to entry the less obvious value you’ll find. Try seeking out events whose planners and speakers have credentials specific to your purpose, and whose organizers are confident enough in their offering to have a cover charge. By being more selective, you’ll find more of the right contacts.

About Us

Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and sales force automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and small to medium security companies around the nation. Contact us today to discuss your inbound marketing requirements.