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The Secret Step To Getting More From Networking
This week’s 5 minute marketing tip is about a simple step you can add to your face-to-face networking that will make a big improvement in your results.
It’s one of those things that’s blindingly obvious when you hear it, but I bet you’re not doing it.
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Hi, it’s Ian here. Welcome to another five-minute marketing tip. In today’s tip I’m going to talk about a secret step to face-to-face networking that can really improve your results.
If you’re like me and you don’t do a lot of face-to-face networking, then this can really help you optimize your use of time. If you do do a lot of face-to-face networking, this can really help you get an awful lot better results. It’s one of those things that, when I first discovered it, I had that light-bulb moment where I went “Oooph! I have got to do that. It makes so much sense, but I hadn’t seen or heard of it before.”
I’ll explain all about it after the break.
Hi, it’s Ian. Welcome back. I made a pretty bold claim before the break about sharing a secret step to face-to-face networking that you probably haven’t heard of before. It’s the kind of thing that, when you hear about it, it will seem blindingly obvious; yet hardly anyone I know does it, and I’ve never heard anyone talk about it before. Let me explain. If you’ve do any face-to-face networking, and then if you’ve been on a variety of training courses that have told you how to do good networking, then you’ve probably followed a process that’s a bit like this: firstly, you pick a good event to go to, one that’s likely to have a decent number of your potential clients or referral partners.
You do some preparation before the event where you look up who might be there, who’s on the guest list, and you plan who you might want to meet up with if you can. When you’re there, you maybe use a bit of body language to identify who the best people to approach would be, who would be open to a conversation. You’ve probably got to practice a little elevator pitch that hopefully introduces you and what you do without boring the pants off people or sounding cheesy, and then you’ve got some skills in maintaining a conversation and then agreeing some kind of follow-up. All that is great, but it overlooks one key fact, and the fact is that there are significant differences between different types of networking event, particularly in why people go to them.
A breakfast networking event is different with Chamber of Commerce mixer, is very different to a convention or a conference or an industry type event, because people go to those events for different reasons. For example, at a client industry conference, probably the reason they’re going there is to find out the latest news, some of the latest trends in their industry, maybe look at what some of their competitors are doing, some of the leading practices. They’re probably not going to that event to meet a potential supplier like you and hear about how you could help them.
No matter how well-crafted and how perfect your elevator pitch is, all about how “I helped so-and-so a person, and how I helped them achieve these results,” the chances are it’s going to fall on deaf ears, because that’s not why they’re there. The missing step is, after you’ve figured out what kind of event you want to go to, and after maybe you’ve done a bit of research about who’s going to be there, who you’d like to meet, the key thing to do is put a lot of thought into why those people are coming to that specific event. What’s their motivation for being there? Prepare something for you at that event that speaks to that particular motivation.
Let’s say, for example, you were a leadership trainer, and you were going to go to a CIPD event. CIPD, here in the UK, is a group of people … it’s the chartered institue of personnel development. It’s for HR managers and people like that, so potential clients in that room, but usually the reason they go to those events is not to meet suppliers and talk about how they could help them; it’s to find out the latest trends in their set. There’ll usually be a presentation on some particular topic. They get a chance to network with their peers and find out what’s going on in other companies similar to those. That’s what they’re interested in finding out about and hearing at that event.
If you want to connect with them and you want to add some value, then instead of your elevator pitch where you say, “I help busy HR managers construct valuable leadership programs that really deliver results for their teams,” create in context. Here, that just says, “Ooh, this is someone talking about something I’m not interested in, someone trying to pitch something, sell something to me.” You’re going to be marked psychologically as someone who tries to sell something to them rather than someone who’s helpful. If the reason they’re there is to find out the latest trends on a particular topic, find out what their peers are doing, then, ideally, you want to be able to give them some of that information.
Instead, before the event, prepare some case studies or some benchmarking, or whatever it might be, so that when you speak to them, first of all, you can say, “What do you do?” and they say, “Oh, I’m an HR manager for a big corporation. I’m particularly interested in this.” Then you can say, “What do you hope to get from this event?” and they’ll say, “Well I was hoping to hear the speaker talk about the latest trends in online learning and how we can use that in leadership programs, and maybe hear about what some of my peers in other companies are doing in that area.”
Then you can say, “Oh, that’s really interesting. As it happens, I’ve prepared a couple of case studies on online learning for some of the clients we’ve worked with. If you’re interested, I can shoot those over to you via email, and you can see what you think and see if there’s anything you learn from them.” That speaks to why they’re there. That is highly valuable to them. That’s much better than any elevator pitch, because it actually gives them immediate value. They’re very likely to say, “Yes.” They’re going to psychologically, subconsciously mark you as a value-adding person, not a sales person. They’re going to want to keep talking to you; they’re going to want to follow-up with you.
That’s the big secret step. It’s to do research specific to the event and think about,”Why are attendees coming to this event?” and then preparing something of value for them related to why they’re coming, rather than just a standard elevator pitch or whatever it is you might want to offer them. If you go through that process and you can’t think of anything that you could offer them, or that you’ve got, that would be profitable in the context of why they’re attending, you might want to think about whether you should be attending at all.
If you’ve got no value to add to that event for the reason they came, don’t fool yourself into thinking, “I can always add value. People always want to talk to me about what I do.” If you can’t add value in the context of why they’re coming to that event, then maybe think about not going to that event at all. If you can come up with something, then that’ll be great. You’ll really add value to the people there. They’ll want to be your connection, they’ll want to follow-up with you, and it will lead to future success with those people. That’s it for this week. See you next week.