Networking Tips: Don't Sell To The Room, Ask For Help Instead
Many, many people make this mistake ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 07/09/2016 @ 8:00AM
When you first went out networking did someone tell you, or did you read some networking tips saying that you shouldn't sell to the room; that it was about developing relationships instead?
Hi, I know I just met you but do you want to buy my stuff? Hmmm, didn't the networking tips you read tell you not to sell to the room?
Now there are a few people who have either never been told this or chose to ignore it and turn up pitching to the audience. The worst ones pin you to the wall with a relentless sales pitch.
I well remember listening to one financial advisor trying to sell a pension plan to another financial advisor over breakfast. This type of experience can put the recipients off networking for good.
"Fortuantely it is pretty rare!"
However, most people are not even aware that what they are doing is selling. After all, most network meetings you're invited to do a short, usually 45 to 60 second, presentation of your business and when you're circulating beforehand everyone asks what do you do?
Sounds like an invitation to present your products or services doesn't it? Isn't that a kind of selling? Well, it depends on how you do it.
For this blog post I want to concentrate on the one sentence that turns most people's 60-second presentation into a sales pitch. I'm going to be using a web designer as an example.
At the end when you do your call to action, what you want people to do as a result of listening to you. Most people end with something along the lines of "so if you need a website that will do x, talk to me". That's a soft sales pitch, but it's still a sales pitch none the less.
It also has another effect. The person listening answers the question in their head with another question. "Do I need a website that will do x for my business?" The answer they usually give themselves is "no" and then they move on.
A simple shift in this sentence gets a different response. There are two versions:
"Who do you know who runs a shop and is complaining about the service they get from their website designer?"
Or better still:
"I can use your help with introductions to shop owners who are complaining about the service they get from their website designer."
Now you're not trying to sell to the people in the room, you're asking for an introduction to someone with a need for your services. In the second version, you're actually appealing to them for help.
It gets them asking different questions in their head. Now your listener asks, "Do I know any shop owners?" If the answer is "yes" then they will aks the second question, "Do they have a problem with their website? Well yes, Fred does, his site is awful" or more likely "I don't know, but I could ask next time I see them".
It will also get some people thinking, "I don't know any shop keepers with bad websites, but I do know XXX who is looking to get his first website sorted out".
And then again it might get someone in the room thinking "Oh might be worth talking to him as I am planning to update my site". In other words, they identify themselves and buy from you rather than you selling to them.
Lastly, it might get someone to think "XXX works a lot with shops he might be a useful person for this chap to meet. I could introduce them."
Now if you're brand new to a networking group, whatever you say is unlikely to evoke an instant referral, it is more likely to get relevant people to come up and talk to you to get to know you first.
Once you've established your credibility in the group it will help people to spot opportunities for you and get you those all-important introductions which is why you came networking in the first place, isn't it?
"Want some more networking tips on how to get introduced to more of your best clients?"
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Until next time ...
More about Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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