We often surface that assisted living communities and continuing care communities are weak in their outreach during our marketing assessments.
It’s certainly easier to come to work and deal with prospective customers who come to your sales office but considering that a prospective referral resource or family member could be anywhere, scheduled outreach needs to be part and parcel of a strategic marketing plan.
We find that many senior living and continuing care communities join their local chamber of commerce but taking advantage of membership opportunities is remiss. A chamber is a wealth of opportunities. Senior living outreach is critical to marketing community.
Successful networking is also helpful if you enjoy an organization. If you play golf, playing in golf tournaments is great for networking. A chamber usually has monthly breakfasts, networking after hours and leads groups. It’s worth trying them all to see where you are most comfortable. Some cities have groups geared to senior housing and elder care. You just need to ferret these out in your area.
A face-to-face networking event is an investment but it takes more than just showing up.
Here are few tips for successful networking:
- Keep your hands free so you can shake hands, exchange business cards and take notes. Often we find people head to the food and then juggle a plate and glass. It’s business first and a successful networker doesn’t go to an event for the free food and drinks.
- Try to arrive early so the group builds around you. You’ll have more opportunities to see people as they arrive.
- Remember your business cards and keep them easily accessible in a pocket or purse. If someone gives you their card, be sure to look at it and say the person’s name to be sure you are pronouncing it correctly. Don’t just drop it in a pocket or purse. You may not remember who they were after the event.
- Think of some open-ended questions to ask people prior to the event. If you have a small notebook, jot down their answers.
- Plan your follow-up even before the event so when you have a stack of business cards, you have the next step in mind. Enter their contact information and send an email quickly. Try to set up a meeting face-to-face for a lengthier conversation. You want to build a relationship and this takes more than emails.
- Take advantage of the internet. You can read about them on LinkedIn and Facebook for additional background. You may find you have similar interests or know people in common.
- Offer to visit someone at their office or arrange for coffee, lunch, etc. Remember that if you extend the invitation, it’s good etiquette to plan to pick up the check. Try to invite someone to your senior living community.
- Remember that networks aren’t built quickly. You need to invest time in an organization and people. E-blasts and E-newsletters keep people reading about what you are doing, and trying to keep connected all contribute to successful networking.
- At a networking event, if you are engaged in conversation and feel that it’s time to move on to someone else, it’s ok to tell the person it was good to meet them, you’ll follow up and you need to work the room.
- People love to talk about themselves. Always remember that when you are trying to engage someone in a conversation. You may want to try asking, “Who is your ideal client?” or “What brings you to this meeting?” This gives you an idea of how you can be of help to them.
As part of the marketing assessments and strategic marketing plans conducted by The Ehlers Group, learning opportunities for successful networking is included. For a complimentary quote on a marketing assessment for your senior living community, please call us at 954-726-9228.
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