The Secrets of Successful Networking, Part III

Business Meeting in Cafe

Networking has been proven as the best way to gain new clients within our network of outstanding coaches and consultants. The Secrets to Successful Networking & The Secrets to Successful Networking, Part II 

We’ll continue sharing their tips and techniques in this post.

Okay, you’ve been to an event and met some great people. Now what?

The most successful networkers have an effective follow-up process. If there’s one stage of networking where most people fail abysmally, it’s right here … not following up. If you hate this step and skip it, save yourself a lot of time, money, and traffic problems. Just stay home.

Create a consistent process that will work for you, all the time, every time. Everyone you meet for the first time should receive some form of additional contact from you within 24-48 hours of that initial meeting. Sending an email? Okay but kind of expected and easily overlooked, but at least you did SOMETHING. Hand-written notes are cool. They’re even better if your notepaper has your picture on it. Phone calls work best. They need to hear the sound of your voice again to make the mental connection of your face, your name, and the sound of your voice. You’re looking to create partnerships … aren’t they worth a phone call?

So, you get them on the phone, what do you ask? You ask for the all-important one-on-one meeting. How soon after your first meeting? ASAP! Keep the momentum going.

Make sure they know you want to meet for THEIR benefit, not your own. Stress what’s in it for THEM! “I’d love to get together to learn more about what you do and who’s your ideal client so I can start funneling referrals in your direction. Oh, and I’d like to describe what I do, too.” Always put them first.

And as best you can, avoid the “let’s just hook up before or after our next meeting.” Tell them you’d rather meet at their office/space/facility … that you’d like the grand tour. If they work from home, then opt for a restaurant or quiet coffee shop. It’s too easy to get distracted before/after a networking meeting. Try your best to get on their turf or at least neutral ground.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point in the process. You don’t want to lose control now. In fact, exactly now is when you need to TAKE control!

Set the agenda for your one-on-one meeting. State it upfront:

“I’m here to learn more about your business, your ideal client/referral, and how I can help you. I like to think of myself as a ‘Salesperson’ for all of my networking contacts, and you’re my ‘Sales Manager.’ So, I need to know everything there is to know about your business so I can sell you effectively. Then I’d like to reverse roles, and allow me to be your ‘Sales Manager.’ At the end, let’s check for understanding. You go first.”

Allow them to share and you’re looking for more than just their 30-second commercial. Use probing questions to get them to really open up about themselves and their business. Here’s a favorite: “So way back in Mrs. McGillicutty’s 3rd-grade class, did you see yourself where you are today? How did you get here?”

Then it’s your turn for them to have their first meeting with their new “Sales Manager.” Be concise, and clear and check for understanding along the way.

After you’ve both had your opportunity to share, don’t fall into the second biggest mistake most networkers miss … don’t forget to feed it back!
Say this: “Okay, here’s what I understand about you, your business, and your ideal client/referral.” Tell them what you heard and ask for confirmation that you got it right.

Then ask: “Would you mind telling me what you think I do, and who is my ideal client/referral?” Many people shy away from this step because they don’t want to “put people on the spot.” Three words: Get Over It! This is too important. You’re on each other’s sales teams now. You need to prove to your manager you know the product line! Again, if you skip this step, just stay home.

Make your networking efforts pay off by following up and using an agenda to guide your one-on-one meetings. Look for our next post which will provide you with more secrets to successful networking.

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