DO YOU attend a lot of networking functions?
Do you get an adequate return on the time you invest by attending those functions?
I was running a Business Relationship By Design training programme and one of the participants, Shirley, arrived late on the second day and looked quite tired. I inquired about her health, and her response was: “I was up until 3am trying to catch up with my work. I’ve been so busy networking of late trying to build relationships so I can make sales, I haven’t had time to do business as usual.”
A lot of people get caught up attending networking functions and lose sight of the most important task at hand — building relationships that count.
If you want more sales, you have to be in a relationship. In order to get into a relationship, you have to invest your time wisely and attend the right functions with the right outlook or intention, plus you need to prepare carefully. Remember sometimes, more is less.
Shirley’s problem was that she was taking the “scatter gun” approach to building relationships and trying to do too much too soon. If you follow these proven steps, you can build solid relationships that bring you business and foster deeper relationships, which bring more sales over an extended period of time, rather than a quick one-off sale:
When you are deciding where to go prospecting, think about the kind of person you want to meet. Who is your ideal client? Have a clear picture in mind, and train yourself to look for the people who are the best fit for your business.
Take a moment to make a list and jot down a few points that describe your ideal clients:
• What profession do they work in?
• How much money do they earn or turn over?
• Where do they live?
• Who do they do business with?
• Are they male or female, or both?
• What outlook do they have, for example, are they risk takers?
Get clear on your ideal clients, be able to fluently describe them to other people so they can help you identify them or even bring them to you. If you are clear on who they are, when you meet one you can swing into action immediately, rather than procrastinate.
Look the part
When you attend your chosen function, make sure you look the part, so you fit in easily. If you are working with a professional group, perhaps wear a suit. Research what your ideal clients wear and be like them. Like attracts like. It is fine to stand out, just don’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
When choosing your standard of dress for the event, remember it is acceptable to dress one notch above the rest of the group. So if it is a professional group, wear your best suit, shoes, shirt and so on. If it’s a more casual or perhaps even a blue-collar target group you have, wear clothes that match the group and say you are someone to stand beside.
Go to the function with a clear intention in mind. By that I mean be clear about the number or kind of people you want to meet. If you have a particular person in mind — for example, Bill James — then your intention is to meet and have a meaningful conversation with him.
Do your preparation before you arrive, and make sure you know Bill will attend the function. Next, arrange to work with someone who can introduce you to Bill. As part of the introduction, have him recommend you or give you a testimonial.
It could go something like this: “Hi Bill, I would like you to meet Shirley. She is Singapore’s leading financial planner and has helped many Singaporeans retire with a sound investment portfolio.” You could tell Bill this yourself, but it is much more persuasive coming from the trusted colleague who introduces you.
If you don’t intend to meet a particular person, think about how many people you want to meet at this function. I suggest three new acquaintances is a good number to aim for. Don’t stop mixing until you have met and spoken to three new people.
As you meet these three new people, keep the vision you have in mind of your ideal client. Use your clever questioning techniques to find out if this new acquaintance is a prospect for you. If he doesn’t fit your vision of an ideal client, keep talking for long enough to figure out if perhaps he may be useful for someone else you know in your network. If he doesn’t work for you or a trusted colleague, it is time to move on.
Building relationships is simple if you know whom you want to meet, have a clear intention and use clever questioning. Happy relationship building.
Article by Lindsay Adams, a relationship marketing specialist, international speaker with Training Edge International and 2009-2010 international president of the Global Speakers Federation. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com