Just recently I was asked to write a networking article for a National Magazine about networking and here is the result that you might find useful if you, like me, are a serial networker!
I was at the ABC Big Breakfast network meeting back in January and a business coach came up to me and asked how I managed to have my diary booked full of clients for 6 months in advance? I asked him how many network meetings he attended in an average month? He said 3 or 4 max, which at best is one per week! He then followed that up with saying that networking doesn’t work for him!
I told him that during a normal year I attend between two hundred and two hundred and fifty network meetings of one description or another and I have a process at each of those meetings. I also said that over 90% of my business came directly from networking or direct referrals.
He asked for some tips and these are seven that I gave to him:
- BE CONSISTENT. It’s no good turning up to a meeting and then not going again for another six months. People do business with people that they know, like and trust and seeing you every six months doesn’t give them the opportunity to build that trust.
- MARKETING BEFORE SALES. The amount of time we get cancellations at ABC Networks meetings because people say that they have to see a client! Really? It’s this mind-set that leads to a feast or famine business. Marketing is your sales funnel and without it the sales will dry up, so it has to be marketing before sales. If your clients can’t wait an extra hour in the mornings then that highlights other systemic issues in your business and would suggest a scarcity mind-set.
- SUSPEND YOUR JUDGEMENT. Either consciously or subconsciously we are always making judgements and this is especially true at a network meeting. Your job is to be aware that you are doing this and STOP IT! Just because someone is dressed in shorts and flip-flops doesn’t mean they are skint or don’t know what they are talking about. Just because you don’t need a financial advisor at the moment doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone that could use your business. Stop judging and start connecting.
- ASK DON’T TELL. If you are telling someone at a network meeting what you do, the chances are that they have turned off! Most people make a snap judgement about what you are saying and if they don’t have an immediate need they lose interest. When I’m asked what I do I always have a quick one line ready that includes the type of client I’m looking for, and then say “More importantly what do you do?” and I always finish with “How will I know if one of my clients is the right fit for you?” This shows that you are interested in them which will probably be a first.
- IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Reverse psychology here. Most people that network are busy trying to get a sale and that equates to most people are busy resisting a sale! Yes of course in the long run that’s what we want, however, if you work on finding out all about them and how you can help them, the law of reciprocation will mean at some point they will do the same for you. I know it feels counterproductive, trust me, it really isn’t about you!
- CONNECT PEOPLE. Make a genuine effort to connect people and keep them uppermost in your mind while you are out networking. My sole intention when I’m at a meeting is who can I connect this person to, and I always offer to connect them with my Linkedin connections if it will help them.
- UPDATE YOUR CRM. As soon as you get back to your office or home make sure you connect on Linkedin, Facebook & Twitter and any other social media platform. I always send an email to a new connection thanking them for chatting to me and offering them a connection to my connections. I then update my CRM with the details I collected from them so that I always remember their name and business, when you meet them again and can remember their name they will definitely be surprised.
Overall, I believe networking is about turning strangers into friends and keeping the relationship warm just like you would any other relationship and that is why my diary is booked six months in advance.
If you would like to know more about the Psychology of networking have a look just here!
Have a look at this video about networking!