Networking Skills: Rejection Sucks, Ok?

Anyone in sales knows that rejection is part of the process. Not everyone you approach is going to buy from you. And rejection yes, it hurts ...

If something hurts then we, as humans, will go to great lengths to avoid that hurt again. Look at the areas of your sales and marketing you avoid doing. My bet is that fear of rejection is the reason for the bits that get deliberately 'forgotten' or 'delayed because you ran out of time'.

"Or maybe you talk yourself out of doing the bits where the danger of rejection is most prevalent?"

I want to apply this to just one aspect of referral marketing as it's one where I see this a lot. It is a simple process and fundamental to building those all-important personal relationships with people who can refer you.

What am I talking about? Inviting people to come to an event or activity with you, to spend some time getting to know each other and forming stronger bonds.

On my course, I get people to get into the habit of inviting people to events, and they often struggle and wriggle and avoid actually doing it.

Don't believe me? Try these examples. Do you use them?

- Waiting for others to invite you to have a one-to-one meeting from your networking group

If you'd like to get to know that person, what stops you taking the initiative and suggesting coffee? "They may not have the time" or, "They may not be interested and then we'll feel awkward seeing each other in the group again". Sound familiar?

Inviting people you know to come to your networking group, or a seminar or business event

"Oh, they won't be interested in that", or "It's not the sort of thing they do" or even, "they won't have the time". At which point I ask, "Have you asked them?" to which the answer is usually, "Well, um, no not directly!"

Inviting people to a social occasion

I recently suggested to some of my clients that we got together for dinner as a group. Everyone agreed to it and then I said, "And bring someone with you. It's a great way to introduce people". The first reaction was a frisson of anxiety, then, "Can it be my other half?" or, "I don't know anyone well enough, I'll come on my own" or I just get nothing and they somehow never confirm or maybe just don't bother showing up.

This blog post was triggered by a LinkedIn post by one of my favourite contributors Adam Grant, Professor of Organizational Psychologist at Wharton. His post was entitled, 'Bouncing back from Rejection'.

When rejected, "blaming ourselves often makes us weaker; it leaves our confidence shattered. Blaming others makes us weaker too as it prevents us from learning from our own mistakes. Recently, researchers have discovered that there's a third option. Most of the time, when you get rejected, the main reason is not you. It's not me. It's us."

"There's a mismatch in the relationship in this context and at this time!"

So, someone might not be interested in having a one-to-one meeting with anyone when they first meet them at a networking event. Maybe evening dinners mid-week don't suit their family responsibilities. Perhaps a seminar on Tax law isn't something they'd enjoy?

So, how do you reduce the possibility of rejection when you put yourself out there making the first move. Here are some positive ways to avoid the sting of a 'no thanks', but first, another quote from Adam Grant: "Who are the different audiences for your work? When you get rejected by one, have you tried reminding yourself of others?"

Learn from all your experiences both when people say yes and when they say no.

- Do your homework

Get to know someone a bit before inviting. That may only be a five or 10-minute conversation that sparks enough in common to invite for a coffee.

Match the people to the event

Coffee for a new acquaintance, but maybe not dinner yet. A seminar on employing your first staff for your budding entrepreneur launching a fast track business, but not for the CEO of a midsized company. The social event is for someone where you already have a budding relationship that you now want to strengthen.

Lastly, work from this knowledge not what you assume to be the case

People are usually flattered that you asked even if they decline. It gives you the opportunity to learn more about them and tailor your next invitation more appropriately.

Just remind yourself it is the occasion they are rejecting not you personally. Many others may love to come instead.

If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.