How to Make a Networking Meeting Work For You – Part 1
When we talk to new private business coaching clients about their first conversation with possible new clients at a networking meeting, we usually hear some combination of this:
“I hate going to networking meetings. I always feel so…”
Then we hear: Unsure. Or Alone. Detached. Unsettled. They even feel lonesome at a networking meeting.
We heard the other day from a new client. We were holding a full-day marketing planning meeting and when we came to discussing networking meetings, she and her partner, financial planners, both shared the same feelings. They are completely comfortable when they are in a one-on-one situation, having a conversation witha potential new client, but when in a business crowd, at a networking event, they feel lost.
Thankfully, there was a Chamber of Commerce mixer that very evening, so we were able to witness their feelings first hand, and do some things to solve the challenge.
This is not unusual. In fact, we hear some version of that story from most of our newbusiness coaching clients. Many small business owners have the thought that they are new to the group and are not sure how to fit in.
We would like to help you get over those feelings.
Even as business coaches, trained to interact with small business owners, we are not immune to these feelings. And as I write this, we are about to go into a brand new networking meeting tomorrow morning. We just joined a new Chamber of Commerce in Arizona and have never attended any of their meetings.
Let’s talk about the approach we are going to take.
We go into a networking meeting with a different approach. When asked, most of our private business coaching clients have gone into the networking meeting looking for business. They want to find their target market and sell, sell, sell. They feel that if they don’t find someone to buy, they failed. We would rather set you up for success. How does that sound?
So what is the plan?
Instead of selling YOU, we want to put yourself in the position of a BUYER. You are at the networking meeting hunting for new vendors.
You are also hunting for people you can connect with people you know. Being a connector is one of the best ways you can build your business. Here is aquestion you need to memorize: “If appropriate, what would I hear from someone that should make me think immediately of you?”
Did I promise to make connections? No. But if it is appropriate, you should start creating the ‘rollodex’ of people you can connect so they can decide if they are a match. And what are these two people who have nothing in common going to talk about? YOU!
Tomorrow, we will go into a networking meeting set up as a “speed dating” situation, where you sit across from another business person and for two minutes each, you talk about your businesses.
We will do it a bit differently. We tend to give them about 3 ½ of the minutes to “tell me your story in better depth.”
No one else is going to do that.
So what do WE do with OUR 30 seconds? We do our regular elevator speech and then…. And THEN… we give that person a copy of one of our best-selling business books. Sharyn gives out Small Business Human Resources Secrets and Hank gives out The Marketing Checklist 2: 49 MORE Simple Ways to Master YourMarketing.
EVERYONE else is giving out a 8 ½ x 11” sheet of paper that sells, or just their business card. WE give out a 100-page book that assists them in building their business. Guess which one is more effective?
If you are familiar with The Small Business Marketing Plan online or The Small Business Marketing Plan Bootcamp, you have been taught the power of books. This is where we bring them into play in a networking situation.
If you have not written your book yet, we suggest you create a tip sheet that you can give out instead of a sell sheet that talks about all the things you can sell them. Useful and Needed defeats Selling Like Mad every single time.
I am stopping writing now, and the next blog post is going to talk about how the networking event went for us. Meanwhile, if you want assistance in what YOU can do at a networking meeting to generate business, go, right now, to www.FreeMarketingConsultation.com and book a free 30-minute breakthrough session with us.