By Debbie Scott, CWCC Member
A. To sell your product.
B. To qualify those you meet for future discussions.
C. To let loose and have fun.
E. To build relationships
Which of the above is the right answer? If you said B and E, you are correct! So why isn’t “A” correct? Isn’t that the purpose of spending money on a networking event, to sell your product or service? Many people you will encounter believe it is and will pressure you to listen to their “pitch” even if you have no interest in it. How does that feel? Uncomfortable? Offensive? Irritating? Now the correct answer IS “all of the above”. And what about C? What’s the first impression you want to leave behind: Professional and trustworthy, or drunk and disorderly?
The purpose of networking is to build relationships. It is NOT to sell. The most important part of building relationships is asking questions and sincerely listening to how people respond so that you can qualify them for further discussions. This means that you must reach out and talk with another person (yes actually make contact), be effective in communicating your sales message, and truly listen to their response. More so, it’s being OK with “no”. It may not be a fit for them. However, it could be a fit for someone that they know. So, you have to be very good at describing your “ideal client” so that they know how to recognize that person if they meet or know someone that needs your help. Also, people do business with or make referrals to those that they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST. If you don’t make a good first impression on them, it’s unlikely they will want to refer anyone to you. Thus “letting loose” may not be a good idea at a networking event.
Another key to effective networking is to “give first”. My first intention is always to listen to those I meet and to try to connect them. If I can’t help them personally, I try to connect them with someone I know that can. This is always a win-win since now you may be helping two people. Giving from the heart without “strings” will always come back to you blessed and multiplied, and usually in ways you least expect.
So. what do you say in those first critical moments? To start, be courteous and ask them about their business first. It’s critical that you really listen to what they have to say. Ask questions to clarify what they do and questions about their ideal client so that you understand how to connect them with others that might be a fit for them. Then when you speak, consider that communicating your sales message, and communicating it effectively, requires three closely related concepts: stimulate…differentiate…and validate.
Stimulate the prospect’s interest…grabbing their attention. Ask thought- provoking questions that serve as a springboard to further discussion. DON’T recite a formulaic “commercial” that spotlights just the features and benefits of your company and goes well beyond the 30 second guideline.
Not clear on how to do this? Attend the CWCC workshop, Networking is a Contact Sport on September 22nd to learn how to make the most of your networking experience!
Debbie Scott is a professional trainer and sales/business coach for Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a Sales and Management Development firm based in Denver, Colorado and certified by the Sandler Training Institute. She has been a top producer and leader as well as trainer and coach for over seven years. She is dedicated to nurturing and inspiring the human spirit to change for the better through coaching, training and motivational speaking, as well as leading by example, using Sandler communication tools and Law of Attraction concepts. Learn more about Debbie and Achievement Dynamics, LLC at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/debbie-scott/0/752/61