Networking can be one of the most powerful marketing vehicles available, yet many people don’t understand how to do this effectively. As an old data processing guy, when I first heard the term networking, I thought in terms of hooking up computers for the purpose of sharing information. Today networking is about hooking up people for the purpose of sharing information to gain business or develop a strategic relationship that can help both parties.
To win at Networking and to become a powerful networker, there are three things to remember the next time you are networking.
1. Fish in the right pond. – You need to network where there are either potential target clients, or people who can introduce you to your potential target clients. So many times I hear people complain about not getting any referrals or business from their networking efforts. They will be part of a group for months with little or no results to show for it. Part of the problem is that they are fishing in the wrong pond. If your business is primarily to other businesses, then you need to look for groups that are predominately B2B. If your business is more focused on consumers, then look for groups that are predominately B2C.
2. Focus on the Problem, not the solution. – So many times I hear people stand up to talk about their company in terms of what they do and how they do it. What I have found is that most people don’t care about that. What they care about is if you and your organization can address my problem or issue. We need to lead with the fact that we understand their issues and how we have been able to address that for others in the past. This will be much more interesting and communicate that you might be a solution to the issue they might be facing.
3. Give before expecting to Get. – Many people attend networking with the expectation that if I just show up every week and pay my money, I should get referrals. Typically that does not happen. When this occurs, then people get frustrated and quit the group. Before I will give a referral to someone, I want to get to know them and about their company. I am very careful about loaning my reputation to someone by giving them a referral. The best way I have found to get referrals is to give them. Before I can do that, I need to do a one on one with people to know if they are worthy of the trust I am placing with them. So to get more referrals consistently, have one on one meetings with folks you want to refer business to, give some referrals, and then you can expect referrals to come your way.
Have an awesome weekend.