“I don’t mean to be rude but…….”: has become the unofficial catch phrase of Simon Cowell the owner and main judge of the UK/ USA TV talent show “The X Factor”. Often in the past 6 months these words have sprung to my mind when attending face-to-face business networking events. Do the attendees really know how to network? Have they any talent for human interaction or do they sincerely believe that just showing up with a pocket full of business cards and a few sentences about their business is all it takes?
I am willing to bet that if you’re ‘in business’ you have somewhere, in or around your desk, or in your wallet, or at home in your bedroom chest-of-drawers, a veritable pile of business cards. I further bet that you can’t recall where you got most of them…or the person who gave you the card… or what his/her business could do for you.
So if you’re going out ‘networking’ in the next few days it is probably a good idea to have a rapid re-think about your strategy. How are you, personally, going to make more of an impact on the people you meet, than the average networker?
There is an old saying in the sales profession that: “Telling isn’t Selling” and it applies directly to networking which is, after all, just one stage in the sales process. And the thing to remember, when you’re selling anything to anybody, is that NOBODY else cares about you and your business. Apart from your family and close friends your relationship with other humans is largely conditional on you being able to assist them in some way.
So the question to ask before you set out networking is: “What problem(s) does my business solve for other people?” That is why your business exists…if you cannot identify one or more problems that you can solve you don’t have a business.
The four main areas of concern for most other people -your potential customers- are: ‘Money’- making more or losing less, ‘Power’ – getting an edge over their own competitors, ‘Prestige’ – looking and sounding more important in their market place, and ‘Pleasure’ – ease of use, good times and the simple life. Provided your product or service potentially solves a problem in one of those areas, you have a something which somebody somewhere will buy from you.
From this little exercise you can now plan a response when somebody asks “What do you do?” you won’t have to un-memorably say: I’m a solicitor… I’m a consultant… I’m a website designer….I own a cleaning business….I own a training company or any of the other yawn inducing stuff that your competitors spout.
Now you can say: “We take away all your business headaches caused by unforeseen legal minefields” or “I make your business start producing additional profits in less than 12 weeks from now” or “We design your website so that customers keep returning and buying from you”
This type of opening statement is much more likely to gain interest and questions like: “How do you do that?”, “How much can you save me?”, “Do you offer guarantees?”
It isn’t the proverbial ‘rocket science’ but it will place you in the top 5% of networkers at your next event.
And one last word or two about networking.
When you do arrive at the venue, do get into conversation very quickly….don’t just stand there by yourself drinking coffee…waiting for somebody to approach you. The best ice-breaker, if you don’t know anybody, is to walk up to the nearest group or solo person , smile and say these words. “Good morning….My name is I don’t know anybody here…will you talk to me?” I GUARANTEE that you will NEVER be rejected with this approach….never! In fact whoever you’re talking to will see you as some sort of brave networking hero. After that ice-breaker try not to tell the others what you do until asked. Ask questions whenever you can and show undivided interest in what other people are saying – try not to let your eyes flick from side to side in search of someone more interesting to talk to. This total-focus trick is espoused by all those people who are said by the people they meet, to be ‘charming’ and ‘charismatic’.
Finally when you get back to your office DO follow up with interested prospective customers. They are NOT going to chase YOU.
In the past six months, in the process of setting up another new business, I have attended approximately one networking event per week and met over 800 business people and secured 37 new customers for my business. But also in that 800 I found about 15 companies that offered services and products I would buy or would have bought. These varied from book-keeping to brochure printing, accountancy to office supply. I have registered my interest during these networking events and told each one to call me as soon as possible. Do you know how many have made contact since?
I don’t mean to be rude but the answer is: none of them!
My name is Bob Etherington and I can make your customers buy from you. Whether your customers are internal (colleagues, bosses, team members, staff) or external (customers, shareholders, partners) the processes of persuasion are universal.In fact you rarely persuade other people to do anything…they actually persuade themselves. You can make that process happen once you understand how decisions are made. You can read my books “Presentation Skills for Quivering Wrecks” and “Selling for Complete Amateurs” And you can attend the seminars we offer. You can discover a lot more at beltd-sales.com