In my last post on the subject, I shared several ideas on how the non-networker could become more comfortable at a networking event . We get prepared by:
– Knowing who we want to meet
– How we will introduce ourselves
– How we will create a few moments of connection by having some prepared questions that are not “salesy”.
In this post, I want to share how we can deepen these connections so that the people you meet will become friendly towards you and want to help you.
Many people are afraid of networking events because they feel like they are “drive-by’s. That is, people are just moving through the crowd scanning badges and handing out cards. Yet there are a number of ways to make meaningful and mutually rewarding connections here.
The first one is to resist the impulse to sell even if invited. Stick to your short elevator story or variation there on and request a time and date for a follow up.
Next, ask the people you are meeting what you can do for them. If they don’t compete with you ask how you can help them. Why, you ask, because it invokes the law of reciprocity. We are wired to reciprocate. Robert Cialdini has extensive research on this in his book, “Influence. ”Even if you cannot help him or her now, they remember that you were willing to help. Now when they hear something that crosses their radar they may think of you and provide you a referral.
Now if you are actually able to connect them with a referral your value goes way up. Now they begin to consciously, look for ways they can help you. I had a great example of this last year. I was in a meeting with colleagues in Dallas. Our buyer shared an initiative that we were unable to help him with. We didn’t provide this service. I knew someone from this space and offered to make a connection.
After my colleague made his presentation he reciprocated not by introducing me by telephone but by inviting me to lunch with his customer who had expressed a need in our space! We now have our mutual ears open for opportunities like this. Talk about a powerful connection and way to leverage trust.
What about the potential customers that you meet; how do you establish trust and credibility here? One great question is, “what are the three key initiatives you have to get done this year?” This will provide you with information as to how big a priority your services might be to them and it will give you an idea of how you or someone you know might be able to help them.
As business owners, we have to leverage all of the tools available to engage us with our customers. That can include, advertising, social media, internet marketing, cold calling and networking.
What are some of your favorite ways to connect with your marketplace?