By Vince Golder of Goldnet Referral Marketing
The Must DO’s in Networking
DO: Choose carefully the kind of networking groups you wish to join. Some groups may have little common ground with your business whatsoever, so don’t waste your time with them.
DO: Maintain a professional “Referral Mindset” as you network. It’s better to listen and learn from other people to build relationships before you start asking for things.
DO: Learn everything you can about the people you meet, including what their business goals are, what kind of customers they are looking for, and how you can help them find what they need. When you help them, they’ll not only feel obligated to help you in return, but they’ll want to help you in return.
DO: When you network, have a prepared “script” of sorts in your mind which, in about 30 seconds, clearly describes your business, its benefits and the kind of people who might be your ideal customer. Some people call this their personal “sales message” or “elevated pitch”.
DO: Put forward a presentable public image. People judge you by your appearance and manners. Do you look and act like someone people want to know better, and would feel comfortable referring a friend to?
DO: Go to as many networking events as you can. Become as well known as you can in as many different business, professional, social and quasi-social sectors as you can.
DO: Always go to each event “well armed” with business cards or referral cards. A referral card is a kind of enhanced business card which contains much more information than just the name and contact details of a business card, but can also contain a clear description of your business, what you do, the benefits and value you give etc.
In appropriate situations, you can also bring along other marketing materials such as small leaflets, vouchers etc. for distribution on marketing tables and handling out as required.
I do not think presenting large expensive brochures and folders works too well up front, you should be able to get good initial response with a well designed and written leaflet or marketing card. You can follow-up with a brochure or folder later.
DO: Be on the look-out for “people of interest.” Learn to identify people who are “centres of influence,” that is, people whom you know other people identify as leaders and whose opinions matter.
DO: Remember to follow-up on all contacts you make within 24 hours, before your meeting becomes cold in the mind of your contact.
DO: Make sure you tell people you enjoyed meeting them, and that you found their business activities interesting. Suggest ways there may be potential synergy between you both and ask them if you can meet again in the near future.
DO: As stated previously become involved in any of the committee activities of the best networking groups you go too.
DO: Try out a new networking strategy I recently used with some success which I call the “Referral Buddy System”.
I attended a new networking meeting before last Christmas with a good friend of mine Mike Preston. Before going into the meeting we agreed try the following idea;
• Work the room separately, but keep each other in sight
• At the end of our conversation with people we meet, state;
“I’m enjoying the event and there are some great people here worth knowing. One chap worth getting to know is Mike Preston, he is that chap over there (pointing to Mike).
Mike is one of the most successful sales and marketing trainers in the UK, a top networker and well connected with a contact base to die for”. If there’s one chap worth meeting today its Mike”.
Make your excuses and then move on leaving the person you were talking to free to consider going to your “Referral Buddy”. In turn Mike worked the room making referrals for me using a similar approach.
When Mike and I tried this idea very loosely on just the one occasion, we found it worked extremely well for both of us. We both received some great contacts, some of whom were very keen to introduce themselves to us (wonder why!!).
I will consider and refine this idea more for future use; you should try this as well as it can be very powerful, but be careful you don’t come across as too well rehearsed or “pushy”.
The “DO NOTS in Networking”
DO NOT: Become a “scorched earth” net worker. These are people who seem to spend all their time at any and every public gathering, obviously selling themselves hard, pushing business cards into everyone’s hands and posturing aggressively.
They ask for instant referrals, and seem focused only on their own needs while thinking little of what they can do for others. Remember, networking is best done with a certain subtlety and finesse.
DO NOT: Appear overly eager, or even desperate. Scorched earth net workers quickly develop a reputation as such, and when that happens, networking may actually began to work in reverse.
Such people are shunned, ignored or merely tolerated with an understanding that “this is a person who is only out to serve him/herself.” Don’t let that happen to you.
DO NOT: Continuously talk about your business in the short (normally 30 – 60 second) regular presentations at each meeting. Instead issue referral cards to all attendees then use your short presentation slot to give a “Tip of the Week”.
I used to give some marketing tips I called “Marketing Gems” which I normally targeted at selected types of businesses I knew to be present at the meeting.
When I started to do this, people were impressed with my professional knowledge, they saw me as the expert in my field and my credibility went sky high, and as a result my referrals greatly increased.
From Vince Golders’ new ebook “The Power of Referral Marketing”. For more information go to goldnetreferralmarketing.co.uk
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