A recent study by McCord Training, http://thecustomercollective.com/TCC/32087 reveals some interesting and powerful results.
They surveyed 450 businesses to determine what was most effective in getting them to do business with people they had never done business with before. They examined cold calling, referrals, meetings and conferences and so on.
What they found was that 39% of those surveyed, reported making a purchase from someone they had never done business with before as a result of a meeting, where they met at a conference or an event. The result for cold call was 3.4%. Where do you want be spending your time.
And yet for many of us a networking event inspires terror. There are some that go to these events and they are comfortable and they move with ease through the gathering meeting and connecting with people. Then there are others that go in and hug the wall and or the one person they know.
Let me offer some suggestions on how to optimize your time at a networking event:
Don’t sell. That does not mean you are there to socialize. We are trying to develop business. We just don’t want to be obvious about it. People really don’t care about us. It’s all about them. I recommend asking them questions to engage them in to build the relationship.
• What brings you here?
• What do you do?
• How did you start that?
• Would you like about that.
• What do your customers look like?
• How can I help you?
Meet people and learn how to serve.
Most people hate to go to networking events. someone recently said they are like “drive-bys”, where people stand up and introduced themselves and the product. “Hi, I’m John, and I sell widgets”. The others are saying “Who cares I’m here about my business”.
So how do we stand out from the crowd, by acting differently? If you take the time to connect and generate rapport without trying to sell, you look different, dare I say it; you look professional. Additionally, if you take the time to engage me and ask me what I do, why I do it, and do I like it, and so on; pretty soon the law of reciprocity kicks in, and I feel compelled to ask you what you do. Now, I have asked you to tell me about your business Get it. Now it is not an intrusion! If I know you care about me, and, we make a connection, and you have not tried to sell me, I will in all likelihood, take your call when you do call.
When people ask us about our business something happens psychologically and they are now open to hear our message. At this point I would deliver my 60-second elevator message and then ask for an appointment (by phone or in person to explore in more detail). By not selling at the event we have an opportunity to have a warm call v. a cold call with someone who is interested in hearing our story. They are now inviting us to have a sales dialog!
What is your most successful networking tool?