Self Storage Networking Events Part 2

by Kenny Pratt

Women at a Chamber MixerThis is the second part of a three-part series. In this post I outline my recommendations for what to do while you are at the event.  In Self Storage Networking Part 1 I give you some guidance on how to prepare before the event.  In Self Storage Networking Part 3 I give you some strategies about how to follow-up after the event.

Many Self Storage Operators ask their on-site managers to participate in networking groups or events like the Chamber of Commerce. In the last post I discussed how to prepare for a networking event as a self storage professional. In this post I discuss what to do when you are actually at an event like a chamber mixer or ribbon cutting.

Here are 7 things you can do to make participation in these events more useful.

Show up physically
Relationships aren’t built on one interaction.  To be useful, people have to get familiar with you before they will think of you when they need storage.

Showing up regularly means you will get to know some of the other regulars and you will be able to act as a proxy host when new or unfamiliar people are in attendance.  You can introduce the new people to others they might think are interesting and gain a new friend at the same time. All newcomers appreciate when others help them get acquainted with the group and help them feel welcome.

Show up emotionally
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.  Smile and be positive.  No one likes a grump.

Put yourself out there
Walk up to someone and offer your hand.  A simple conversation starter that is honest, fun, and positive is the self-disclosure opening.

In the most simple version you would simply walk up to someone, offer your hand, and say, “Hi, I’m _____ . I don’t know anyone here.”  This opening works well because it appeals to another human being’s inherent helpful nature.

Here are some variations:

  1. I’m new here
  2. today’s my first day
  3. I just joined
  4. I’m a first-timer
  5. I’ve never been to one of these before
  6. I know nothing about…
  7. I’m kind of new to…
  8. I’m brand new at this whole…
  9. You know I always wanted to try this

If you need more ideas – check out these ideas for starting a conversation

Be interesting
Don’t just talk about your business. You want something they are going to remember when you follow up with them. Ask them questions.   Here is Scott’s list on how to be the most interesting person you know.

Be focused
Don’t dart your eyes around, wondering who else is in the room. When you are engaged with one person, treat them as the most important person in the world. Make them feel important and they will like you.  When the small talk winds down you can always ask…

Do they currently use storage?
It would be a bad idea to talk only about storage, but one good question that should be asked is if they are currently using storage.  If no, then they are a prospective customer who you are making a relationship with.  If they are currently a self storage user maybe you can lure them away from a competitor if your offer is good enough.

If your contact is a self storage user and If you have vacancy to fill,  you have nothing to lose by making a generous offer to entice them over to your location because any revenue generated by this new relationship is revenue you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Prepare for the follow-up
Here are three simple recommendations to help you prepare for the follow-up phase.

  1. Ask for their business card and write down something you learned about them and what you talked about on the back of their business card.
  2. Ask permission to connect online on LinkedIn.  If they have an account this is an easy one to say yes to. Although don’t be concerned if they are very closed with their network.  Some people only want to connect with the people they know very well.
  3. Ask permission to send them some promotional stuff.  Asking permission is important because you want the stuff you send to be anticipated and welcome.

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