Public speaking has increased the number of networking events I attend weekly, which has resulted in added exposure and connections. Through these connections, many coffee meetings have been arranged, good thing I’m on decaf, otherwise I would be beyond wired!!!
This has been an adventure as I’ve observed many different networking styles and follow up meetings. Leading to a few observations on effective networking, why it works and what to avoid at all costs.
1) Make specific connections
When there has been a group intro, listen to who you want to connect with and approach them saying that you heard what they do and would like to know more info.
It shows that you have selected them as a person of interest and see value in meeting,
Person came up and said “Hey I like what you do, it sounds interesting.” Then 2 minutes later, says “I actually came in late, what do you do.”
This raised an instant red-flag because she just admitted to lying, then demonstrated that she’s trying to work the room to get numbers, not quality connections. Is this someone I would trust making a recommendation to…not a chance!!
2) Set a goal of making 1-2 quality contacts per networking event.
This focuses you to seek out who you want to meet, not roll the dice. This can be based on your needs: strategic alliances, interesting connections, and potential clients. This all starts by wanting to build relationships, with this mind set, you will be open to make connections.
Person went around room saying “hi, what do you do? Give me your card and we’ll stay in touch.”
Another red-flag, when someone says “we’ll stay in touch” and you don’t know them, I expect there to be a sales email coming soon, pitching me for some product I have no interest in. Worst example was someone approached me saying she liked my business message and wanted info, then asked if I was single. I thought this was a bit odd, but yes I was. She then asked for my card, sure, so I gave it. The next day I get a call from her Manager saying that she got my card from **** and began pitching me on their dating service. With these shady lead generation tactics, how could I trust them?
3) Focus on their needs when meeting in person.
So you’ve turned your initial contact into a personal meeting, congrats!! Now here is where I have seen many people blow it because of basic mistakes. Time is valuable and they decided that you are worth giving time they will never get back, use it wisely.
Most people have 1 question: WIIFM? (What’s In It For ME) They may want to assist you, but ultimately, they have an idea of what they want. Focus on their business, ask questions you generally care about and avoid pushing your agenda. You must build trust and a relationship before you really care to help someone.
*Person shows up late to meeting= strike 1 (Respect their time)
*At beginning of meeting, the first question they ask is “ok, so should I go first or you?” I was completely thrown off, first at what? Then they pull out a presentation folder and go through their sales pitch. Instant red-flag, I was there to get to know someone and see if there was an opportunity for my services assist them, do not assume everyone needs your product or service.
*Spent 90% of meeting talking about their past accomplishments and business. I’m wasn’t impressed and felt like wasted time. If I wanted to know your detailed background, I would ask specific questions or check your website. Most people have achieved great accomplishments and that’s excellent for your self-esteem and should be celebrated, but to potential clients, they will not care nearly as much as you do, focus on them.
*If you have a promo video that shows your services, keep it under 2 minutes. I had a meeting where the promo video was over 10 minutes, nobody has time for that. I will get an intuitive feeling to work with you in less than a minute, make a good first impression and move on.
This is a sample of experiences and I hope you are networking effectively and avoiding these mistakes. Creating quality connections built on respect and trust will propel your business forward, hope to see you at the next event.