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Is Your Networking Working?

business entrepreneur small business Mar 17, 2019

If you are an entrepreneur, own a business, or are thinking of owning a business, then you have probably spent some time networking to get your name out there. Networking is one of the necessary marketing pieces that can build a referral network to build and sustain your business. Networking is even more important if you mainly focus on local marketing. It will help you become known in the community and gain the trust of those you connect with so that they can better refer the right people to your business.

Your 30-60 Second Commercial

Your 30-60 second commercial is probably one of those things you have thought about and changed time and time again.  You need to be concise while being clear about how you serve others. When presenting your commercial, focus on how you help or serve others, how you improve their lives, or how you increase their bottom line.  The truth is that people care more about what they get out of working with you and not actually what it is that you do.

People want results! They want to know that if they work with you they will be better for it. Think of your commercial the same way you would a written marketing piece. Focus on THEM and not you!

Working the Room

Most networking groups have time to mix and mingle and get to know the people in the room.  It's important to really listen to those you talk with and be genuinely interested in what THEY do. So often people want to talk about themselves and forget to listen to those they connect with.  When you do this, you will leave them feeling like you only care about yourself and getting their money in your pocket.  It is not a good feeling for the person you connect with and it will not make them want to work with you even if you have something they need. People like talking about themselves, so let them! Be the one who listens.  It will pay off in the end.

Case in point:

This past week, I attended several networking groups. For the most part, people DO understand that they have to show some level of interest in what others do.  But many times, people ONLY focus on those who they think will BUY from them. THIS IS NOT RIGHT THINKING.

Here is why:

You should NEVER go into a networking situation looking to sell.  EVER. Period. End of story. If you do, you will surely send others running the other direction.  You will be one of those people.  You know, the ones who are only looking for dollars and a quick buck, and not interested in building lasting relationships that will keep the referrals coming.  You see, these folks have not mastered the real reason for networking. And it is NOT sales.

Sure, everyone at the networking event is looking to sell something. Of course!  They would not be there if the end result was not making money for their business. However, the smart ones understand the importance of building lasting relationships, taking a genuine interest in what others do, and looking at the big picture of referrals for the long haul. If you don't do this you will get one sale and done instead of a steady flow of referrals and your business will suffer for it. Savvy networkers understand this basic principle.

Case Study

This past week, I experienced an example of what NOT to do.

A friend joined an energy company, which is great if that is what she wants to do.  I don't discredit any company out there, just the methods in which people in them operate to get sales. Most of the companies out there do offer great products and services for the right people. However, many of the companies train their employees to use methods of marketing that just don't work. 

My friend told her sponsor I would be interested and that I would be a great candidate to join her team. I have a digital marketing business and I have no interest in selling energy, even passively. 

Apparently, she pointed me out before the meeting began, because as we went around the table, I felt the constant stare of her sponsor burning a hole in me like I was a target. It was not a good feeling.

Immediately after the meeting broke into mingling, her sponsor made a beeline for me.  To be honest, I had a few people I really wanted to speak with, and she was not one of them. You see, I connect with people I know I can partner with or in some other way build a relationship with to move my business and theirs forward.

The worst part is the only reason she wanted to talk to me was to get me to sign up or do her business on the side.  I do not want to do either.  The other thing about these companies is that they insist on immediately seeing your electric bill.  To me, my bills are a personal thing, and anyone who asks to see my personal bills had better be someone who spent time getting to know me first! Now, I do understand they need to see the bill to do what they do, but if that is the only thing they want to talk to me about it makes it all about lining their pockets ONLY and not showing a genuine interest in me. 

Not one time did this gal ask anything about what I do or show any interest in me other than to get hold of my electric bill. Not only that, but she and her partner were pushy and would not take no for an answer insisting they can help me.  The thing is, you can only help someone who wants your help.  If someone does not want your help, move on!

AND, if you are in financial services, mortgages, or any other profession that deals with someone's personal and private information, then you should be building trust with them and showing a genuine interest in them as a human being before you ask for their personal information. It's just common sense.

To be honest, my friend's sponsor totally repelled me. She showed me a great example of what NOT to do. And her pushy partner made matters worse.  There is nothing worse than feeling like you are ganged up on when you are trying o extract yourself from a conversation with a pushy networker who is only in it for what they can get out of it. 

Don't be that person. You are better than that.  You know better and you don't want that reputation. You want to draw people in, not repel them.

Do This Instead

Networking should be a healthy EXCHANGE.  It should be a CONVERSATION. This means that both parties should have the opportunity to chat a little about what they do to see if there is a good fit for a continued relationship with each other.  

You should never try to sell at a networking event! 

Networking events are designed to connect you with people.  Once the right connections are made, you should schedule an appointment to talk with the right people one on one. Either schedule a meeting or schedule a call. If you are able to schedule one right there, that is best. But if not, make sure you follow up with them and get them on your calendar. 

Following Up

Your scheduled meeting or phone call with them is a chance to sit down and really understand what it is each of you does in more detail than you are able to at an event. This is still not the place to sell.  This is to get to know each other, build the relationship and understand how you can work together. If someone wants to work with you, they may let you know at this stage, but if they don't it is not good to push the issue or you risk pushing them away. 

Make another appointment, if necessary, or have a system in place to stay connected and follow up at a later time.  Talk about this with them. Ask them when a good time to follow up would be. Then follow up!  Stay connected. Build a lasting relationship with them. If they don't buy from you, that is okay, because they know people you don't and if you play your cards right and treat them with respect and earn theirs, then you have a great chance to have them send referrals your way. 

Be the ONE people want to connect with!

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