People do business with people they know and like. It’s not entirely true all the time, but it’s mostly true. Enough that you should pay attention to it.
Let’s try to figure out why this might be the case.
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Take the first part – People do business with people they know. How many people do you know? How many people know you? If more people knew you, would your business be bigger?
And then the second part – People do business with people they like. Now, this isn’t a popularity contest. But do you try to help the people you know? Do you connect people, or share articles, or just reach out and stay in touch with your potential clients?
To make networking effective, you need to be consistent and you need to get out there and actually create relationships. It’s not a matter of collecting 500 business cards and handing out 1,000. If there is no substance behind it, then those cards that you handed out will end up as landfill pretty fast. And you’ll have a pile of cards that you won’t remember anything about that person or their business.
To make networking actually WORK for you, then you need to create solid relationships that are built on mutual respect and trust
Here are my 10 tips for face-to-face networking success:
Where to go
1. You’re going to need to make some choices about where to spend your time. I recommend deciding based on where your ideal client is likely to be. Do you know who your ideal client is? If it’s a particular industry, then get involved in some of the industry organisations. If it’s a particular demographic, find a meet-up group. Is there an ethnic organisation? A sporting association? Look at your calendar a month in advance, and try to schedule 2-3 times per week. Any more will exhaust you! Any less, and you won’t be able to build those relationships.
2. Choose events where you can build on-going relationships. You might choose 1 weekly meeting such as a BNI chapter or 4Networking. You might supplement that with a different monthly meeting each week, such a meetup groups. Associations that only meet twice a year aren’t going to work. Local Chambers of Commerce are fine, but you want to be sure that your ideal client goes there. Choose a few, check them out, and if there’s a good fit, then go there consistently.
3. Before you get there, practice your marketing message. Less about what you do, and so much more about the results that you get for your clients. It needs to be client-focused. Find a mirror and repeat until you can say it quickly without a hum or ah.
What to do once you’re there
4. Going into a room full of strangers can be intimidating. I use the mindset that I’m going to my best friend’s birthday. I won’t know everyone, but everyone is there because we like things in common and we’re going to be friends by the end of the party. Put on a real smile and enter knowing that you have new friends inside.
5. If they don’t have someone at the door, then introduce yourself to the nearest person. Everyone at a networking event is actually there to meet other people. Start by staying “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met yet, my name is …. What’s your name?” You’ll be surprised how many people thank you.
6. Have a space of curiosity about the person that you just met. Ask questions, not like a journalist throwing questions one after the other, but like you would with someone you just met. Ask about their business, why they’re into that business, what their challenges are. When it’s your turn to talk, be sure to talk about the results that your clients get after they’ve worked with you.
7. Keep moving around – Set yourself a target to talk to 5 different people that you want to follow up with later. Tell them that you would be interested in talking further with them, and that you’ll call them the next day to arrange a good time to talk. Remember, sell nothing! If you try to push people to buy from you at the event, it will backfire.
After the event
8. If you managed to meet some people that you said you were going to call, then please do be sure to call them! It’s very common for people not to call, and it does gives such a good impression if you do what you say that you’re going to do.
9. Meet up with them and learn more about their business. See what you can do to help them find their ideal clients (or whatever challenge they have). Maybe there are people that you can introduce them to. If you can build their network, they will think of you with fond and grateful thoughts.
10. When it’s your turn, be sure to give your short story, link it to your values and higher purpose. And talk about results that people have had with you. Use this one sentence “What kind of difference would it make if we were to work together?” Let the other person create an image of what difference it would make. Don’t push your service onto the person any further than this. You’ve just seeded a thought.
We all know that people with great connections are likely to have thriving businesses. If your business still has some wiggle room to grow, then get out there and start meeting people.
Image credit: Flickr
Abbie’s coaching business, One Extra Zero, helps women business owners make more money with their business, through focus on their marketing, time and team. www.oneextrazero.com