Have you ever gone to a networking meeting where someone rushes up to you, makes a sales pitch, hands you their card and sails away to the next person? How about meeting someone new and all they do is talk about themselves and how fantastic their business is? Have you ever experienced the pushy multi level marketer who is trying to persuade you to come to their meeting where they promise no sales pitch, just information?
These people turn me off and I am reluctant to send them referrals or do business with them myself. I have been networking for many years and have seen it all.
To build a strong and influential network of people who know, like and trust you and are willing to send you referrals, try the following 6 tips next time you are in a meeting.
6 Tips for Networking that Works
1. Be patient
Don’t attend a meeting with the express purpose of landing a new client or making a sale that day. It takes time and effort to build long lasting relationships. The purpose of networking is for others to feel that they know, like and trust you. Once you develop meaningful relationships, you will begin to get referrals and sales.
2. Give first to others
Focus on how you can help them rather than how they can help you. I don’t mean being fake and sticky sweet, but genuinely being concerned about helping others grow their businesses. I have found that when I try to find help my business associates by sending them referrals or offer assistance in dealing with their marketing issues, people are more likely to send me a referral or hire me in the future.
3. Be prepared
Be prepared with your 60 second elevator speech, ample business cards, marketing materials, and samples if appropriate. In your elevator speech, talk about the benefits of your product or service. State clearly how your product and service will help them or their friends, family or business contacts. Furthermore, have several elevator speeches ready so that you can switch them up and keep your speech fresh.
4. Get them talking
Many people are a little shy and don’t know how to make relationship building small talk at meetings. It might be that you are meeting new people or you are part of a group that meets regularly and you have met most of the attendees. The best way to start a conversation is to talk about what people love the most to talk about….themselves! To do this try open ended questions to draw them out. An open ended question cannot be answered by a yes or no. Try something like, “What did you do on your vacation this year?” or “If you could travel anywhere, where would you like to go”. Remember at this point, you are not trying to sell anything; you are trying to build a relationship.
5. Make notes
Be sure and ask for the person’s business card before offering your own. Handing out business cards at a meeting without taking the time to chat will not work! Your targets will either not remember you or think you are pushy and just trying to make a sale! After you finish talking with them, take a moment and write notes on their cards so that you will remember some details about them. Write the date and place of the meeting so if you want to contact them, you can remind them of the details. If you make a note about something personal and remember that your prospect just visited Spain for example, you can mention it in your follow up email or phone call.
6. Listen to others
The last tip builds on the tip of asking open ended questions. Do more listening than talking. If your goal is to tell as many people as possible all about your business without spending time listening about their business, you will not build relationships and trust. Try active listening skills such as reflecting back what they have just told you. You can try, “So you are really excited about your new product because…….” Active listening takes practice and may feel awkward at first, but the people you are talking to will feel heard and you are building effective business relationships.
I hope that these tips will be useful for you as you build your business, your relationships and the network of people who know, like, and trust you.