It never ceases to amaze me when I meet someone and they say to me networking doesn’t work.
A classic example of this happened last week when an ABC member (let’s call him Charlie) emailed me to say that he wouldn’t be coming to ABC anymore because he hadn’t had a single referral in 2 years and although he had made some good friends he didn’t feel it was working for him. Now the interesting thing here is I had referred two people to Charlie, one of which he didn’t contact and the other chose to use someone else.
I also connected Charlie with another client of mine who said that he could give Charlie between £40-60k per year in referrals as that was what he was currently doing with another company and was purely transactional with no relationship. Charlie had one meeting with my client and didn’t see him again or contact him or make any attempt to build the relationship. Another client of mine also connected Charlie with a great referral source and Charlie sent them a two page sales pitch.
So, my question is “Was it the network that didn’t work or Charlie that didn’t netWORK?”
If you are experiencing a poor return on your networking then here is my PACE method of networking that may help you get a better result…
P = Pre-judge…
A couple of years ago I was the keynote speaker at a London teaching hospital and I had to address 150 surgeons and anaesthetists. As I was the keynote I was last to speak and I had had a couple of visits to the refreshment table and attempted to speak to several of the delegates without much luck. I suspect it was because I was dressed in Flip-Flops, shorts and my trusty Tottenham football shirt. When I jumped up on the stage and took my place behind the lectern there were some very puzzled faces in the audience.
I started to tell a story about being summoned to court for a charge of assaulting a police officer; I described the setup of the court with the magistrates, police officer and the accused. When I stopped the story and asked the audience who thought I was the defendant and over 90% put their hand up to confirm my suspicion. Everyone of that 90% had pre-judged me because of the way I was dressed… They didn’t know that I was the chair of the magistrates or that I also had a PhD…
When you go to a network meeting and someone stands up to say their name, profession and pitch, most people will judge them and if they have no immediate need for that persons skill, product or service and will discount them, and what they have to say will generally not register in the memory banks.
What about that persons circle of influence? Everyone in business will probably know at least a couple of hundred other people, so when you pre-judge them you are also losing a potential two hundred other connections. When you pre-judge someone you stop a journey with a multitude of potential destinations.
The next network meeting you attend practice not judging anyone…
A = Attitude…
I had just launched a new ABC group in South east London and was just setting up when this quite large gentleman staggered in to the reception area and said “Oi, you, get me a chair!” So I obliged and found a chair for him at which point he said “Not that one, that’s too soft and no good for my back!” I found him another chair and asked him what he was doing here at this time of day? He said he was here for this ‘bloody breakfast meeting’ because people had told him that he had to network.
When we had finished the formal part of the meeting I was doing a small closing speech about ABC being not about making money for me as the network owner and was focused on making money for the businesses that attended and helping each other achieve our goals, at which point he interrupted and said “What a load of rubbish, nobody does anything for nothing!” Luckily, there were a lot of other members in the room that appreciated the value of helping each other rather than thinking “What’s in it for me!”
Yes of course we all network to increase our leads; however a bit of reverse psychology is what works the best. Think about it from the other way around. If you have an attitude of how can I help the other people rather than who can I sell to or what’s in it for me, the law of reciprocation will ensure you will get more referrals than you can handle in the long game! As Bob Burg says in his excellent book Endless Referrals “It’s not about you!”
My attitude at any network meeting or gathering of people is very much “How can I turn these strangers into friends?” or “How can I connect this person with another referrer?” Rather than “What’s in it for me?”
So the next network meeting you go to adjust your attitude and ditch the WIIFM and look to turn strangers into friends and friends into clients.
C = Communication…
I’m sure that you have been for a coffee, following meeting someone at a network group. I met a lady at the first ABC Ashford about 4 years ago and she asked if I would like to meet for coffee, which I duly obliged. We arranged a local hotel reception area and I turned up after her, she already had her coffee and as soon as I got there she didn’t ask if I wanted a drink she launched into telling me how wonderful her multi-level marketing product was and drew a diagram of how I could earn as much as I wanted to each month but the average was a £1000 for just 16 hours per week. She went on to tell me how I deserved a secondary income stream and I could will it to my beneficiaries in the event of my early demise.
Now then, as much as I would love to help people get a better deal on their utilities there was a fundamental flaw with her approach; she was TELLING me what she thought I wanted to hear. So I drew her a diagram of the multiple income streams that I already had and explained that I earned more from my book sales working zero hours than the £1000 per month for 64 of my precious hours that she wanted to steal from me.
The lesson here is that communication is more about listening than it is about talking. She didn’t ask a single question about me or my current circumstance, she was trying to sell me something I didn’t need or want. If she had asked me about what I did at the network meeting instead of trying to sell to me she could have saved a lot of time. If you ask better questions you will get a better response and if you are TELLING you are definitely NOT selling.
You will get a better result communicating if you ask some great questions and then listen with the intent to understand the reply rather than respond with your pre-arranged agenda. Two ears and one mouth that is how you should communicate listen twice as much as you speak and remember if you’re telling, you’re not selling.
E = Engagement…
Many years ago I had a gentleman come on my second ever Millionaire Mind-set course, unfortunately he was what I call a KIAC (Check the link) he thought he knew it all and didn’t implement anything that he had learned. It’s not about the information; it’s about the implementation! He had been networking for a while and had had very few referrals. He came to me and said “Ash, this networking malarkey really doesn’t work and I won’t be coming anymore.” I wished him luck and we parted company.
Imagine my surprise when 3 years later at ABC Gravesend he walked through the door and announced that he was back! I asked him what had made him change his opinion of networking and he said “I’ve read this great book and it says networking is the best form of marketing and I already knew all of the people I needed to know!” I asked him what the book was and he said Endless Referrals by Bob Burg… Funny that!! I had recommended it to him on the Millionaire Mind-set course 6 years previously.
I welcomed him back and he went to get a coffee and sat down at the table, he didn’t speak to anyone until his turn to speak. He stood up said he was a business coach and he could help everyone in the room grow their business and that they should all come over and see him during breakfast. He sat down, waited for the presentation round to end, got up, collected his breakfast which he ate in record time and then left.
He didn’t engage with anyone for the whole two hours; he pitched his business and expected everyone to go and see him afterwards (Which they didn’t) and then left as soon as he had eaten his breakfast. So once again he had learned nothing.
In order to turn strangers into friends we must engage with people, we must be genuinely interested in them which you can’t do if you’re not going to talk to them. Get in amongst the people and speak to them. I’ll talk to anyone anywhere; my mates take the proverbial when I talk to the doormen at the pub when we go and see Tottenham play. They may well laugh but I’ve turned those strangers into friends and one of them is now a client.
In a nutshell your four tips for better networking;
Do not Pre-judge the room.
Adjust your Attitude from what’s in it for me.
Learn to listen when you Communicate rather than tell.
Make sure you Engage with people.
From now on P.A.C.E. yourself when networking!
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