Have you ever been to a networking event where you watch someone, usually from a new business or new position in the company, run around the room handing out business cards to everyone like a human Pez dispenser?
Sometimes it sounds like this, “Hi. I’m So-And-So from Such-And-Such. Here’s my card. Please call me if you need This-Or-That. Oh, excuse me. There’s someone else I need to see.”…and they’re off and running…
I can appreciate and respect their enthusiasm, but this is certainly not the way to attract business. It’s the shotgun approach; throw enough ‘stuff’ against the wall, go back to the office, wait by the phone, and surely someone will call. If that is working for you, then God Bless you. You have something unique in your aura that they other 99.99% of the population does not.
On a good note, this type of person has potential. They are not afraid to talk with people and they are motivated. All that good energy just needs some guidance, direction, and coaching.
Here are a few tips:
- Choose a target – do your research ahead of time. Check the guest list and think about maybe 3 people who could be good prospects that you would like to introduce yourself to.
- It’s all about them – once you make the introduction, spend your time asking them questions, not talking about yourself. Look at everyone as though they have a sign on their forehead that reads “Make me feel important”.
- Patience, Grasshopper – do not try to sell anyone anything at a networking event! This is the biggest turn-off for professionals. The sale happens after you have built trust and rapport. Take time to get to know the prospect and their business. You may discover that they have no need or interest in your products or services. It is better to know that before you book a presentation.
- Ask for permission – only after you have built trust and rapport, established whether they are a real prospect for your products or services, can you ask for a sales appointment later. Schedule a time to sit down with the expectation that you will present your sales pitch. Asking permission sounds something like this, “It seems like we may be able to do some business together. May I make an appointment to show you what I have to offer? If it feels like a good fit, then that’s great. If not, then no big deal.”
- Honor their time – many people attend networking events to meet friends they only see at these events once in awhile. Don’t hog their time all evening! Also, don’t be in a rush to run to the next target. A good networking introduction need only last about 10-15 minutes. When the conversation is done, it’s done. Thank them and move on to let them enjoy the rest of the event. “It was great meeting you. Thanks for the interesting conversation. I look forward to seeing again on ______. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
If you feel comfortable trying this on your own, go for it! If not, you may want to look into using my services as a Professional Networking Wingman. I will make the introductions for you, ask the relevant questions, and assist you with scheduling the sales presentation. I’m right by your side every step and nobody would even know that’s what I’m doing.
And…the next time you see a human Pez dispenser at a networking event, please give them my number. The world needs less candy and more real networking.
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