Saturday, May 9, 2009

And How's That Working for You!

I recently attended a networking event. It was a 'business after hours' type of meeting. There were probably between 200 to 300 people there. Saw lots of people I knew, re-connected with some people I had not seen in a long while, and I met some new people. Did some 'netweaving,' i.e. introducing people I knew to other people I knew. After all that is the point of going to these types of events, right?.

One person I met, let's call her Sara, was certainly there to do some 'speed networking.' I was talking to a business associate when she came by and stuck out her business card, interrupting our conversation we were having. OK, we introduced ourselves and exchanged cards and she gave me a short description of what she did. Later as I was making my rounds to the various display tables, we met again and again she gave me another business card.

Overall it was a good evening, possible new business, some follow-up appointments, referrals made, and some information provided.

I have to give Sara credit. I received a phone call from her the very next day. However, Sara had not done her homework. I think the conversation started out with her asking me questions about how I market my business. After each question and my response, she would make the statement, 'How's that working for you?' After about three questions, it finally got on my last nerve, so I interrupted and asked, 'Sara, what exactly is it you're selling?' And she told me about her product and then she asked, 'Do you paint interior as well as exteriors?' RED FLAG. Obviously she was just calling phone numbers. She had not read anything on my business card, had not been to my website, let alone taken the time to ask me anything about my business. I just chuckled and said, Sara I don't paint anything.' I went on to explain what I did and the origin of the name of my business. I told her I specialized in 'relationship marketing' and provided products and services to that effect. I then tried to offer Sara some other alternatives for networking. She had not heard of BNI or The Joy of Connecting. I gave her some suggestions and told her about the list on my website that listed some networking opportunities in the area. Hopefully she'll check it out and read some of the articles on my website about networking and relationship marketing.

Here are some of my suggestions to build your network and build relationships:

1. When you go to networking meetings, make a goal to meet 5 good prospects to follow up with. Not just collect as many business cards as possible.

2. Do some 'Netweaving' - introduce people to other people who would be good referral partners. - Zig Ziglar says 'If you help enough people to get what they want, you'll get what you want.'

3. Do your homework. Look over the business card. Check out their website before you make the follow-up call. Determine how you can be of help to this person.

4. Follow up with those that you met. With a phone call, email, a card.

5. Arrange a meeting, (meet for coffee, lunch, etc.) with those that you want to further the relationship. You can start the conversation like this, 'I would like to meet with you to learn more about your business and how I can be a good referral partner for you.' Remember 'Givers Gain.'

6. Make the follow up conversation about them, not about you. Ask questions and let them talk about themselves and their business, learn about them, their wants and needs. They will then in turn ask you about you and your business.

7. Stay in touch. Add them to your Contact Manager, connect with them on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Find appropriate reasons to follow up, i.e. when there are events that you think might be of interest, training, referrals, etc. Send them a birthday card, congratulations, (when appropriate) etc.

Believe it or not, everyone doesn't want or need what you are selling or they may need it but don't have the funds available at the moment. Or they need to get to know you before they change from their current service/product to yours. Make it about building the relationship. I heard a description recently that as we meet people and put them into our contact manager to look at it as a funnel. Some will come out the other end as great clients and customers. Does it take more work to do it this way versus Sara's 'speed networking' way? I don't think so. I would like to think that over the long haul that I have met more people, made more positive business connections, and even if they perceive they don't need my products or services, that I have built the relationship so that they will refer me to their business acquaintances who do need and can use my products and services. Isn't that what networking is all about?

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to build great relationships in business.

Happy Networking,
Painted Lady Enterprises
"Helping You and Your Business Look Good"



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