The Biggest Mistake People Make When Networking
And you might not realise you're doing it ...
Posted on: 06/05/2015 By: Jacky Sherman
The biggest mistake most people make when networking is selling to the room and they don't even realise that they are doing it. Seasoned networkers will mock those who spend their time vainly trawling networking groups hoping to find their nirvana; a room full of people who want to buy their services ...
We seasoned networkers laugh at or get irritated at the people who spend the whole meeting giving their sales pitch and pressing their business card and brochures on anyone willing to take them.
We, the enlightened, know that networking is to meet and develop relationships with people who can refer us to our ideal clients, not just once, but over and over again. Hold on a minute! Before you get too smug, chances are what you actually do at networking events is closer to that over-zealous salesperson.
"Perhaps all you do is sell, but with a little more subtlety?"
It comes out in the conversations you have over the coffee and, most tellingly, it comes out in the closing part of your short presentation of your business that most networking groups feature.
So what do you talk about over coffee with someone you have just met? The usual opener is "what do you do?" Nothing wrong with that, it gives you context.
However, unless you're ready with your next question it can lead into a lengthy discussion about the features and benefits of their business. You're encouraging them to sell to you.
And guess what? When it's your turn you do the same! You tell them about the benefits and features of your business. Try moving the conversation on to what you really want to know. Who do they know and who do they want to meet.
What if your next question was. "How interesting! What sort of clients do you work with?" I'll warn you here, most people are not able to tell you. They fall back on the standard "anyone who needs xxx".
So you'll have to delve a bit deeper. "Who is your best client?" will get you a bit further. Oh, make sure you can answer those questions succinctly too! Do you have a clear description of your best clients and who you want to meet? Does this person know those types of people?
If there is synergy between you both, now is the time to suggest meeting up for a longer discussion and get to know each other. You know it is likely to be a good use of time for both of you.
If their customers and clients are not who you are looking for, now is a great time to introduce them to someone in the room who does want that type of client. That will probably be a much better use of their time and you have helped another member of your network too.
"A note of caution though!"
Don't be too quick to write this person off completely just because it looks unlikely that they can help you. People may have all sorts of connections in their private life or previous jobs that can help you and you may be able to help them this way too.
That's the value of regular attendance in membership networking groups, if you know you are going to see this person on a regular basis you can come back for a further conversation next time.
The biggest mistake, though, is when you're invited to present your business to the room. There are two purposes around this:
Firstly, to remind the regular attendees of who you want to meet.
Secondly, to inform new people of who you work with and why they should get to know you.
Most people - with practice - give good explanations of their business then talk about the features and benefits again. So back in good old sales mode, they make the big mistake of finishing with a direct pitch to the room like "So if you need xxxx then contact me!"
Now we, as people, tend to answer the question we're given. So the other people in the room think "Do I need xxxx? Well, no I don't." and then they move on to the next presenter.
What if you ended with "Who do you know who is the MD of xxx type of business and needs help with xxxx? Talk to me and we'll discuss how I can help them." Now the question others are asking is "Do I know any MDs of XXX type business? Yes, I know several! I wonder if any of them needs that type of help?"
Now, there may be people in the room who respond with "Oh yes! That's me!" and want to talk to you about how you can help them. Consider that a bonus rather than the primary result you were looking for.
So at the next networking meeting you go to, listen out for who works with the same sorts of clients as you do. These are the people to talk to in more depth and arrange to have a further meeting with the intention of finding out if and how you can help each other. Secondly, plan your presentation to end with a "who do you know" request.
I know you will develop faster and more effective relationships with the right people for you and the referrals will start to flow. Then you can go back to feeling secure that you really are one of the enlightened and richer for it too!
"So who do you know who networks regularly and never tells people who they want to meet?"
Why not share this blog post with them and ask them who their best client is? If they struggle to answer and would like some further help then ask them to call me today on 07970 638857 and I'll see how I can help them.
Until next time ...
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