Successful networkers know that networking can be an incredible way to find referral partners, meet prospects, and make more money. Yet I still meet seasoned sales professionals who think networking is a waste of time. Every time I hear someone complain about how networking doesn’t work, I think, “You’re doing it wrong!”
I have a goal to attend a networking meeting of some sort every week and recommend the same for my coaching clients. When done right, networking can be an enormous income producing activity. But when you just go through the motions, networking CAN be an incredible waste of time. Successful networkers network with purpose; they attend every event with a specific plan of attack.
Successful Networkers Network with Purpose
When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t know anyone. I had no warm leads and no local referral partners. Unless I wanted to rely 100% on cold calling (you know, the universe’s punishment for not asking for referrals), I had to start meeting people in a hurry. I googled sales networking events near me and got to work. Five days after moving to Nashville, I attended my first networking event. The first person I met there resulted in an incredibly large deal a short time later. I also got several referrals at that meeting that jump started my prospecting in my new home city.
What did I do in at my first Nashville networking event that made it so successful? The same methods I’ve observed other successful networkers using throughout my career.
Here’s a list of 5 techniques that all successful networkers consistently use:
Know Your Audience
Research the attendance and invite list; be intentional about finding people who are attending that you want to meet and then seek them out. In fact, the best way to approach a networking meeting is by already having a list of at least 3 specific people that you want to meet and setup a follow-up meeting with. At the very least, you should make sure you have a good grasp of the type of people who are attending; make sure it is absolutely worth your time to be there. I’ll even arrive early to talk with the event coordinator in hopes of a formal introduction to the person I want to meet. Remember, you could be sacrificing time with your family or time at the office to attend this event – you’re there to work – not just to socialize.
Believe in Your Products and Services
Be proud of what you do, who you are, and who you represent. When you believe in your products and services more than anyone else, it shows. Don’t hide your passion for how you make a difference in your client’s business. They will, in return, feel the passion too.
Attend with a “Give to Give” Attitude
Giving out names of your close network can be scary. We may wonder, “Will this person ruin my relationship by being too pushy?” With that in the back of our minds, we often hold our names too closely. It’s important to have a giving attitude. It’s always more beneficial to give than to receive, so be willing to give referrals more than you receive referrals. Once others see you’re willing to give, they’ll be more willing to give in return.
Have a WOW Statement
Oftentimes the person you are introducing yourself to will ask, “What do you do?”. In that moment it’s critical to peak their curiosity rather than rambling on and on about how fantastic you, your company, and your products and services are. A “Wow! How?” approach does just that. After your initial statement they should respond with, “Wow! How do you do that?”
Define Your Ideal Client (and Know how to Describe Them)
Use trigger words to really paint the picture for the person you’re talking to so they can imagine people they know who need your services (e.g., “I work with growing families who have outgrown their current home.”). Create a list of trigger words that will help others imagine your ideal client.
Bonus Tip: AFTER the Event, be the First to Follow Up
Follow-up is simple and important, yet often forgotten or approached haphazardly. Always strive to be first to follow up after a meeting. Make it a challenge to be first to connect with anyone you meet on LinkedIn or via email. And if you promise to do something (call, send an article, make an introduction), then do it right away. The urgency in your response can make a huge difference in your results.
As you network with purpose going forward, know that your efforts will pay off. With some of these ideas you may have to step outside your comfort zone, but remember, that’s where all the action takes place anyway.
Until next time – go sell some stuff!