Looking After Your Own Visitors

 
Looking After Your Own Visitors

Inviting a visitor is the start of the process, not the end. A very high proportion of people invited to a networking meeting, even those who say they will attend, never make it to the meeting. There are several reasons for this but mostly it is because they forget to come. They have every intention of attending but unless they write a diary entry or are very disciplined it slips their mind and they miss their chance to attend for another week.
Once your invitation has been accepted you need to ensure that you handle the persons visit correctly to help them to see the potential of the group for themselves. The day before the meeting you should call the visitor to remind them and confirm their intention to attend. If parking is a problem at your venue why not offer to collect them and car pool.

Visitors, for assorted reasons including nerves, not knowing what to expect, travelling to an unfamiliar location, will turn up early for a meeting. If you tell them the meeting starts at six forty-five they will arrive at half past six. So, if you have a visitor coming you need to ensure you arrive early yourself. Nobody likes to enter a room of strangers alone and one friendly face can make all the difference.

When you arrive at the meeting (or better still the day before), you should let the greeters at your group know you have a guest coming. It makes such a difference to a visitor’s perception of being accepted if, when they arrive and introduce themselves, the people greeting them say that they are expected.

Once your visitor has arrived let the Greeters do their job, and then you can introduce them to various members before the sit-down aspect of the meeting starts. Do not be tempted to ‘over host’ them, I have seen this so often, where a member drags the poor visitor around from member to member to try to get them to meet everyone before the meeting. This is not an enjoyable situation for the visitor.

What is better is to introduce them to a member, normally I start by introducing them to the President. Once you have made the introduction, and been involved in the conversation for a couple of minutes you should leave them to it, excuse yourself and go and take part in the open networking session. You should keep an eye on your visitor, ensuring they are talking to someone and have not just been abandoned.

If possible, you should sit next to your visitor to answer any questions they may have, but don’t sit there giving them a running commentary of proceedings.

Many groups ask a member to introduce their guests. If you are asked to do this refrain from telling the Chapter all about the visitor, so that when they stand up you have already said everything about them? Introduce them simply, in a way that allows the visitor to take over and deliver their one minute introduction themselves.

Say something like ‘I would like to introduce John, he is a plumber and has been working on my house, and is doing an outstanding job’ or, ‘my guest today is Joan, she runs a great little company, but I will let her tell you all about it’. Keep it simple and don’t steal their thunder. This type of introduction helps the visitor to start their presentation and overcome some of the stage fright that all visitors suffer from.

Following the meeting, you should thank the visitor for coming and introduce them to the Greeters for their post meeting discussion.

A few hours later you should contact the visitor, and ask them of their opinion of the meeting. Ask them if they will be coming again, but don’t ask them if they are considering joining. People who ‘get’ networking will be spontaneous about their desire to join.

Many visitors do not attend a second time simply because nobody asks them to. Remember, visitors do not know all the ins and outs of your group rules regarding none member attendance and as they have received so much information, during the meeting they may not be aware of the next step. As with the first visit remember to call the day before their second visit to remind them of the meeting.

The correct handling of a visitor can make the difference between them not feeling very welcome and not enjoying the meeting, and them having a wonderful experience and deciding to join. One reason is you and your ability to be a ‘personal’ Visitor Host to your guest.

Do not be offended or surprised if your visitor decides not to join. Ultimately the decision is theirs and they will have to decide for their own reasons. You will not and should not try to change their mind. Like in an intimate relationship you cannot make someone love you, they do or they don’t for their own reasons. The same is true for visitors to your group, the choice to apply to join is theirs.