Your most valuable business tool for the 21st century.
Networking, the 1990’s word for prospecting, has become a vital business tool. It’s inexpensive (often free), time effective/productive (you can usually make 20 to 30 contacts in a couple of hours), and has more of a social overtone (it’s easier to do business socially – and it’s fun).
Many people go to networking events – very few actually know how to network effectively. Below are some 26.5 techniques and tools you can use to be a more effective and productive networker.
16 Fundamental Rules of Networking…
- Pre-plan the event. Figure out who will be there, what you need to bring, what your objectives are, and if anyone else from your company should attend.
- Show up early, ready to move, looking professional, full of cards.
- If you attend a business event with a friend or associate, split up. It’s a waste of time to walk, talk, or sit together. Play a game with a co-worker. If you go with someone from your company, bet who gets more (qualified) cards. The more you bet, the less likely you’ll spend one second together.
- Walk the crowd at least twice. Get familiar with the people & the room.
- Target your prospects. Get a feel for who you’d like to meet.
- Shake hands firmly… No one wants to shake hands with a dead fish.
- Have your 30-second personal commercial down pat.
- Keep your commercial to 30 seconds OR LESS.
- Be happy, enthusiastic, and positive. Don’t be grumbling or lamenting your “tough day.” People want to do business with a winner, not a whiner.
- Don’t waste time if the person isn’t a good prospect, but be polite when making your exit.
- Say the other person’s name at least twice. First to help you remember it, second because it’s the most pleasing word to their ears.
- Don’t butt-in. Interrupting can create a bad first impression. Stand close by, and when a pause or opening appears… jump in.
- Eat early. It’s hard to eat and mingle. Get your fill when you first arrive so you are free to shake hands, talk without spitting food, and work the crowd effectively.
- Don’t drink. If everyone else is a bit loose, you’ll have a distinct advantage by being sober. (Have a few beers afterward to celebrate all your new contacts.)
- Don’t smoke or smell like a cigarette.
- Stay until the end. The longer you stay, the more contacts you’ll make.
10.5 Subtleties of Networking Success
- Early in the event and near the end of the event, stand by the entrance if possible. At the start you can see everyone and establish your targets, and at the end you can catch anyone you missed.
- Spend 75% of your time with people you don’t know. Hanging around with fellow employees and friends is fun but won’t put any prospect cards in your pocket or make any valuable contacts.
- Spend 25% of your time building existing relationships. Talk to your customers. The better you get to know them, the stronger their loyalty to you and your company.
- Don’t give your information out too soon. After you give your 5 to 10-second introduction, ask the other person what they do BEFORE YOU START TALKING IN DEPTH ABOUT WHAT YOU DO. (See The Book of Introductions in The Sales Bible — If you don’t own it — Buy one today.)
- After your prospect has told you about him or herself, your next move is a choice between establishing rapport (finding common interests), and an opportunity to arouse interest in your product or service. (What the prospect said in his introduction will be your guide.)
- If the person seems to be a good prospect, you must establish some common ground besides business if you want to ensure an easier path to doing business. Find one thing you both like or know about.
- TRY TO APPOINT THEM NOW. If you want to get the prospect’s card, offer your card first, or give a reason you need the card (“Give me your card and I’ll mail you some information”). If the prospect is reluctant to give you a card, he/she is likely to be hard to appoint later.
- Write all pertinent info on the back of the prospect’s card immediately. You will need this to refer to when following up.
- Don’t sell your product/service. Just establish some rapport, some confidence and SELL AN APPOINTMENT.
- Be aware of time. After you have established the contact, gotten the business card, established rapport, and confirmed your next action (mail, call, appointment), MOVE ON TO THE NEXT PROSPECT.
10.5 THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE – Have fun and be funny. It’s not a brain cancer operation – it’s a great time to get to know others and establish valuable relationships. People like to be with people who are happy.
If you question the value of networking, consider this:
If there are 100 people in a room and you have two hours to network, you can connect with 50% of them and probably make 25 contacts. How long would it take you to make 50 contact sales calls in any other environment?
Probably a week.