Prospect or Perish: 4 Ways To Make Networking Easy
by Derek Weber
One of the most effective way to grow your business is through networking. People like to do business with those they know, like, and trust…and they the first step in that process is meeting someone. Networking gets a bad rap because if you don’t know how to do it correctly, it doesn’t work and you end up tired, frustrated, and out of business cards. Here are four keys to make your networking efforts generate more contacts and more business.
#1 Know who you want to meet and find out where they are.
The first order of business is research the hell out of your target market. Find the most target rich environment for people in your target market and then find out where they go, what they do, what events they network in…and then be there consistently and constantly. People are much more likely to do business with you if they have seen you around doing the same things they are doing, even if they’ve never even talked to you. Familiarity brings a level of comfort that cannot be replaced by anything else.
#2 Talk less, ask more.
If you go to networking events looking to sell everyone on your product and service, and “make it rain” with your business cards, not only will you burn yourself out, but you will likely see no results. In the end, you need to go in looking to find ways to help other people. Listen to what other people do (really listen and hear what they are saying) and try to find ways you could help them out. If you ask probing questions making them think about their business in a way they may not have thought about before, and legitimately show interest, you will find a much more open listener when it becomes your turn to talk. If you have shown interest and a willing to help them, when the tables turn, they will show you the same respect and try to help you.
#3 Make every word count.
When the time comes that they ask you about your business (which they almost always will) have a good elevator pitch ready. Practice this speech over and over and figure out what works for people and what doesn’t. Try different approaches and phrases to figure out what works best. If you pay attention when you are talking, you will tell by their non-verbals when something you say is interesting or incredibly boring, understood or tuned out, and most importantly what generates follow questions that extend the conversation. The key is to practice trial and error on what is the most effective and concise way to convey your message. Remember, most (all) people have very short attention spans unless you hit on something that interests them, so keep it short but interesting and leave obvious places where they can ask questions.
#4 If you don’t follow up, you weren’t there.
There are two laws that come into play here:
1) The Law of Diminishing Intent: the longer you go on intending to do something, the less likely you will do it.
2) The Law of Who the Hell is That?: the longer you wait, the less likely they will remember who you are and vice versa.
Because of these two laws, it is extremely important that you follow up the next day with the people you meet. Send them an email or a thank you note, telling them how it was nice to meet them and add something in about the conversation you had with them. The first point of follow up is the hardest yet most important. After that, if you have a monthly newsletter, add them to your database and make that contact point each month. If any interest was shown in your business, try to arrange a meeting in order for you both to get to know each other’s businesses better to see if you will be able to help each other out.
If you follow these 4 tips, you will find yourself having much more interesting, productive conversations with people at networking events, which will lead to more and more business opportunities…and be a lot more fun!
Read our series on prosecting:
- Tips to make your cold calls more effective
- 4 ways to make networking easier
- 5 great places to find referrals
- Targeted Marketing: Hot chocolate for your sales