"How to Turn Chicken Dinners into New Clients and an Endless Stream of Referrals"
Even though business networking can quickly put you in front of how new prospects, help you create life-long strategic alliances, get more referrals and simply find people you really enjoy hanging out with, majority of professionals have no clue how to make their networking count.
They attend the wrong meetings, use boring self-introductions, can’t recognize a good prospect if one stepped on their toe, don't know how to elicit interest in their service, give no value in conversations with those they meet, gobble down their rubber chicken, rush out and never follow-up…
Does this sound familiar? It certainly did for me when I was starting out. Instead of STRATEGICALLY SELECTING and LEVERAGING a couple of groups that could get me lots of local visibility I hopped around from one group to another getting little or no results.
I was frustrated, attending many of those meetings was no longer fun and exciting, and each time I collected a few more ‘useless’ business cards I was becoming more discouraged and jaded. I knew I needed to do something differently but I didn’t know how.
Fortunately, with time I discovered how to be a better networker, and that virtually anyone can easily master this business building strategy.
As a matter of fact, by practicing a few of the following tips you can turn your face to face promotional efforts into a powerful business building tool.
So here are Marketing Mentor’s Five Habits of Highly Effective Networkers:
Habit #1 - BE PREPARED
I often joke that every new business owner should be jailed for 30 days – so that they have time to think and develop a business strategy. You must take time to plan your networking activities or you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated. Here are at least three things you need to address ahead of time:
Don’t bother going anywhere until you develop an attention getting Audio Business Card that clearly communicates who you work with, the problems you solve and the benefits of working with you.
Habit #2 - BE INTERESTED
If you’ve networked once or twice before you inevitably had the displeasure of running into that self-centered, never-stops-yapping-about-themselves bore! What we don’t realize is that we often are THAT BORE!
Hey, it's only natural that we all get excited about our business. But frankly, what we do is boring to others. So stop trying to be interesting and become more INTERESTED. Talk less and listen a lot more! Dr. Stephen Covey said it best: “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood”.
Fact is, people never do business with you just because they understand what you do. They do business with you because they FEEL UNDERSTOOD!
Habit #3 - HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS
Learn to engage people in conversations that will leave them energized and excited.
Most people are tired of exchanging trivialities and welcome this fresh approach. Amazingly, such attitude of ‘being of service’ will set you apart from others and land you more new business than any sales pitch you could ever develop.
Habit #4 - MAKE FRIENDS NOT SALES
Asking a few questions about your business doesn’t make someone a prospect or a buyer! Pushy, self-centered requests for business and referrals expressed too early in the conversation come across as rude. No one likes to be sold so people will run away from you.
Instead, make it your goal to make new friends. Meet and connect with other like-minded individuals you like as a person and focus on developing long-tem business relationships with them.
Habit #5 - FOLLOW UP
In the five years of running my coaching and consulting business, I can remember fewer than ten people who promised to connect with me after I met them and actually did. Sadly, majority of professionals get so busy collecting new business cards they forget to stay in touch with people they already met.
Develop follow-up tools – reports, articles, audio CDs – that describe your product or service in an engaging, informative way. Use greeting cards, postcards, publish an ezine or a one-page printed monthly newsletter.
Whatever you do find a way to systematically follow-up to maximize your networking ROI (return on investment).
Do you like these suggestions? Want to learn more strategies and how-to tips to improve your networking skills? Look out for a special announcement this coming Wednesday.
In that message I'll share with you a few more networking tips and tricks I learned over the years and you can improve the results you're getting from your online and off-line networking efforts.
(c) 2006. The author, Adam Urbanski, Founder and President of Marketing Mentors, helps service professionals and business owners develop strategies to increase sales and profits. For ideas to create an effective marketing plan, free marketing tips and information about free marketing teleclasses and workshops visit his website at http://www.theMarketingMentors.com