Are you networking or not working? If you’re in business today, you have to be really honest with yourself when you answer that question. Many professionals and business owners spend tons of time (and money) attending “Networking Opportunity Meetings” or “Industry Events,” but come away with very little to show for it. It can seem like a lot of wasted time for very small results. But networking can be productive! Let’s explore how to get better results by looking at the fi ve most common problems: Networking for the wrong reasons, networking with the wrong people, not being proactive, not being prepared, and not getting help when you need it.
YOU GO TO THE NETWORKING MEETING TO GET LEADS. Everyone wants to sell at a networking event. They all run around trying to collect business cards and make contacts that will lead to business. Well, if you go to a networking event to get leads, you’re going for the wrong reason. You should go to a meeting to GIVE leads and help other people. Emerson’s Law of Compensation states, “To get more, you must first give more.” I recommend you go to these meetings and try to help other people make contacts that will help them. Be the go-to guy or gal for everyone there. Pay it forward! It will always come back to you. Try it for 30 days and you’ll be amazed at how many good referrals come your way.
YOU’RE AT THE WRONG NETWORKING MEETING!
If you’re a personal chef, you’d never start cooking without knowing what you’re going to prepare, right? When it comes to finding good new prospects, who are you hunting for? If you’re looking for lobster, you won’t catch many of them in Lake Michigan! You have to go to the meeting where the people most likely to buy your service congregate. If you’re looking for corporate work, go where company presidents and meeting planners go. If you do work for wealthy individuals or private parties, maybe a country club open house or the art gallery or museum opening is better for you than the local chamber of commerce meeting. If you’re hunting larger business owners, you won’t find them at the weekly “coffee shop meeting.” If you’re looking for retail customers, local community events might be a good start. You have to fish where the fish are.
IT’S YOUR MOM’S FAULT.
Mom taught you “Don’t talk to strangers!” and now your boss (or your spouse or partner) is telling you that you have to go talk to strangers. It’s silly, but some people are still afraid of talking to strangers—and they’re 40 or 50 years old. It’s natural to want to stay in our comfort zone. So, how do you break years of training and build a new way of thinking? It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Your new mantra is “I make money when I talk to Strangers! The Stranger can’t hurt me. The Stranger may be my best referral source this year.” If you change the way you think, you can change your results, almost overnight. Remember, if you never talk to them, they’re a “no.” If you talk to them and find out they’re not interested, you’ve lost nothing. But they might say, “Yes.” The only way to find out is to reach out to them. Remember: You can’t lose what you don’t have.
YOUR “ELEVATOR SPEECH” IS NOT WORKING.
Most people in business have a canned 30-second commercial or elevator speech—and it sounds canned! Do you respond to people who sound scripted? Probably not. You need to have a great 30-second commercial that gets their attention…and fast. Here’s the formula:
Here’s an example:
I’m Eric with “Dinners to Remember.” I help busy husbands impress their wives by taking them out to dinner without ever leaving the house! The people I work with normally fall in a few different categories:
But you probably don’t know anyone with any of those issues, do you?
An approach like that, at the very least, gets people talking to you. And maybe you will get a few referrals in the process.
SALES IS AN ACCIDENTAL PROFESSION.
No one grows up and says, “When I grow up I want to be a salesman.” Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a great idea for a new business or you’ve been running your business for years, you’re expected to be good at sales. If you’ve never been trained on how to sell (or how to network), you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle. Go get some training!
Professional Networkers are not born, they’re developed. They hone their skills, practice them, and then go make money while others are still struggling. You took years to develop your business experience, your brand, your products or services, and your reputation. It takes time and effort to become good at sales and networking—and now is the time to start.