Or someone else’s desk!
You don’t have to go to a chamber mixer, cocktail party, association meeting, business card exchange, or conference to network – although it ain’t a bad thing! Going to events is one of the quickest ways to meet new people and reconnect with those you want to get to know better. But events are not required if you already know a lot of people, have a computer, or already have a book of business.
A few quick points to set the stage!
Networking is about learning and helping one another. It’s not about pitching your product or service – that’s selling. Be careful with your language and make it clear that you’re looking to exchange ideas and ultimately exchange business. Keep in mind that it’s very easy to give the wrong impression.
Everyone you meet, greet, or already know is not your prospect. You may want them to be but that doesn’t make it so. A true prospect already wants to buy from you and you’ll know it when they tell you. Otherwise those you meet are potential referral sources although they could become prospects!
Use a lot of WE language in your conversations. WE, as opposed to ME, will force you to keep the conversation collaborative. Remember the whole learning and helping each other thing? You can say things like, “How can we refer each other business?” “How can we help one another?” Remember to focus on the relationship first. If there’s a connection, the collaboration will evolve. Without a connection (easy to talk to, high level of engagement, each speaking an equal amount of time, common ground), nothing good may come from the discussion.
Finally, it really helps if you have a target market which I consider an industry, profession, or specific segment of the population that you serve best and therefore wish to serve most. Markets like small businesses, high net worth individuals, and pre-retirees may not be clear enough to be target markets because they’re much too broad. Try to be specific! You don’t need to have a target market to be successful at networking but again, it helps. Having a defined target market will help you to be specific with the types of introductions and information you’re seeking.
Keeping all of this in mind, kick your feet back and make your contacts!
Those you know in your target market.
Who is in your target industry, profession, market segment, or niche that you would want to have as a client but isn’t? Let them know that you would love to have them as a client but your intention is to learn more about how to get involved in their marketplace. What associations should you attend? Trends you should know about? People you should meet? Make a phone call and find out!
Those You Wish to Know in Your Target Market
If you know of people that fit into your marketplace, simply reach out to them through social media or pick up the phone and call them. Let them know you are not “selling them” but rather looking to learn about their industry and develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
Centers of Influence
If you’re a financial advisor, accountants and attorneys might be obvious COI’s. If you have a defined marketplace, there may be other professions that serve the same niche as you that don’t conflict. Who are they? It might make sense to schedule regular meetings with them (every 30 days on the phone or over a sandwich) and talk shop.
With clients, really emphasize the WE thing. Financial advisors, business owners, and service providers are often weary of appearing needy with clients or feel they might risk the relationship if they ask for information, an introduction, or whatever. Taking the WE approach makes this dynamic go away. Which clients are most closely related to the market you want to serve?
Work Your Database
Every day, week, or month, simply start from the top (the A’s) and work your way down your entire database. Maybe every Friday, you or an assistant tackles a different letter (A’s, B’s, C’s and so on) until you get to the Z’s and you begin again. Of course, you’ll be taking notes (“I really should call that guy!”) and updating the database as you move along.
Working on LinkedIn is a great use of time but it shouldn’t be an all day thing. Limit the amount of time you spend on LinkedIn and other social media because it’s addicting! Maybe devote 20 minutes a day to reaching out to people (some mentioned above), making daily posts, and collaborating in Groups that are relevant to your marketplace.
Set Up Meetings That Make Sense
If you know you have scheduled meetings (sales appointments or others) that requires you to travel, see if you can make the best use of that trip. If you have a meeting in a city that requires a long drive or mass transit, you might want to schedule other meetings in that area to make the best use of your time. I know this seems obvious but I’m just saying.
Give some of these approaches a shot! There’s nothing new here but if you implement a few of these quick practices into your daily routine, you’ll see almost immediate results.
Now get back to your own desk!read more