How to Use the Holidays to Focus Your Networking Skills
When we are talking about our products or services to someone we just met, every sales rule and networking skills training ever written, that is effective, says not to come on too strongly.
Imagine you are at a Chamber of Commerce Mixer and a new guy walks in. Dressed sharp in a suit, with a white shirt and red tie. You walk up to say hello and immediately feel like that the only way to get away is to buy a new insurance policy right there next to the cheese and crackers. You now know not to get near that guy again. And you learned a lesson on what not to do when talking about YOUR company.
As Ice sang in West Side Story, “Be cool, boy.” Yes, even when honing your networking skills!
How do you avoid being seen as ‘that guy?’
When we are going through holiday times, not only is it a great time to practice patience, it is also a great time to practice your networking skills. Especially if the audience is not the most gracious.
Pretend for a moment you are around the extended family dinner table and your Uncle Barry has actually shown up. Yes, Uncle Barry, the one with whom you have virtually nothing in common. He believes his political party cannot make a mistake. He hates chocolate. And puppies. And he is a Giants fan, while you love the Dodgers.
So what better way to practice your networking skills by making friends and influencing people than by winning over Uncle Barry. What are the steps you need to take? They are the same as in making your sale.
Let’s talk about how you can use your family, even the ones you don’t get along with, to build your sales abilities and networking skills.
The first networking skill we teach to our private coaching clients is to remember that IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. What that means to you is that there is no pressure.
So many people who are self-proclaimed experts and ‘teach networking skills’ will tell you to make a strategy to get everyone’s business card and then sell them your stuff.
They will tell you to memorize 3 or 4 different scripts to use on the appropriate people.
OH THE PRESSURE!
Here is your new plan to hone your best networking skills: Listen. Ask questions and listen.
Your goal is to be the most helpful and useful person in the room.
And what are your best networking questions to ask?
Those ‘networking experts’ would have you ask questions that would lead you to making a sale. Leading questions about your product. But that won’t usually get you closer to a sale.
You are going to ask them questions about THEM. Using the formula we teach to our private coaching clients. Unlike high school chemistry, all you have to do to remember this one word formula: F.O.R.M.
F stands for Family.
O stands for Occupation.
R stands for Recreation.
M stands for Message.
You will ask Uncle Barry about parts of the family you may not know about. You will ask him about stories from his childhood. You will ask him what it was like to grow up in that time period. You are going to let Uncle Barry talk about things very close to his heart. People, your prospects included, love to talk about their family. Their kids. Why they are so proud of them.
You will then ask Uncle Barry about what he does (or did) for a living. How did he get to that occupation? Unless Barry is a Fireman, Policeman, or plays center field for his favorite baseball team, he probably is not doing what he thought he would be doing as a 6-year-old.
That, in fact, is a great way to get him to open up about what he does.
“Most of us as little kids wanted to be a ____, but we ended up doing what we do. What path did you follow to get there?”
If you are familiar with some of our public workshops, you will understand that we ask that question as “What yellow brick road brought you to that personal Oz?”
By now, as you sit around the family table, lots of other conversations will have broken out based on what Barry was sharing. But YOU keep asking questions.
The next area is Recreation.
Ask Uncle Barry what are his favorite things to do when he is not doing what he does. How often does he get to do it? If he could quit working, how much more of it would he do? How did he figure out he liked it so much?
What you have been doing so far does not seem like a sales pitch, right? That’s because it isn’t. It’s not supposed to be. You are supposed to be building a relationship which is far more important in sales.
Our sales rule number one is “People buy from people that they know, like, and trust.”
If you feel yourself drifting off into sales mode, repeat that mantra to yourself.
The last part of the formula is Message. This is leaving your brand new friend with a positive message. With Uncle Barry, you are going to thank him for sharing so much of himself with you. In a networking situation, you would want to begin preparing them to move your business relationship to the next level. We will share more in a bit.
While going through the FORM Formula, you don’t have to worry about what the next question you will ask will be. You are just going through or bouncing around the formula. What that means to you is that you are able to pay more attention to the person you are talking to which helps you in the next step.
The next step we teach our private coaching clients is to discover the needs of their new friend.
Let’s face it, not everyone is our client. No matter what you are selling, not everyone is your customer. So let’s focus more on learning what our clients need so we can solve their problem. When you take away their pain, they will write you a check.
If you discover your (by now) new friend’s needs match what you offer, that is great. But what if they need an auto repair shop that can take care of their auto fleet, and you run UFO tours in Sedona? The next best thing you can do for your friend is to solve their problem by reaching into your rolodex and giving them Helaine Kurot’s number at 360 Automotive.
What are they going to talk about when they get together? YOU because you are the first thing they have in common.
You have just become a Master Connector. A Networker Par Excellance. You are the one who is going to bring people together and make it part of what you do.
Here’s the Yuloff Creative Rule of Connecting: The more you connect people, the more connections come your way.
So what happens if you are going through FORM and find out that what they need is YOU? In that case, you remember to ‘play it cool, boy’ and let them know that you ‘might be able to help them with that’ and offer to sit down with them over coffee and make sure.
The next step is to follow up. We hear it all the time that people say “I send follow up emails the next day.” If that is your system, then make sure you follow it. Our system is that in addition to that, we send cards through the mail – a series of many cards – to business owners that we meet.
Another way to hone your networking skills is to run a Holiday Special.
This is a new one for us. We just ran a Black Friday Special and got several unsubscribes which means for us we are now only talking to people who want to be spoken to and networked with us. Running this special helped us clean up our list. The funny part is that a BBQ restaurant clicked off our list…. And next week we had to choose a place to cater an event early next year. Which was a bonus.
We also ran a THANK YOU non-offer Black Friday special which, while thanking people for being on our list, thanks them for taking part in all the free marketing opportunities that we offer. I have added the copy of this at the end of this blog.
As a final thought, remember that your networking skills must be continuously honed.
In addition to your family members, you can practice FORM Formula in almost any interaction, zero pressure. Like the check out line at your supermarket. Or a restaurant. It becomes a challenge to see how many questions you can get in over a short period of time.
Go practice and report back to us. If you would like to work on your FORM Formula, go to www.FreeMarketingConsultation.com and answer the few easy questions. You will then receive a link to our calendar so you can find a time that works best with your schedule so we can talk about how your networking skills can be honed, or any other sales, marketing, human resources or business challenges.
As our family of friends gather around our Thanksgiving table, we’ll each take a moment to share gratitude for at least 1 thing.
One of the “things” we are grateful for, and perhaps don’t tell you often enough, is You.
Thank you for trusting us to advise you and your business.
Thank you for reading our blog.
Thank you for listening to our radio show and podcast.
Thank you for reading our books.
Thank you for helping us get each of our 6 books to Best Seller status.
Thank you for engaging with our vidoes.
Thank you for engaging with us on all the various social media channels (even the cat posts).
Thank you for participating in our Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamps.
Thank you for participating in our 90 Minute trainings we offer each month through various Chambers of Commerce and SCORE chapters.
Thank you for staying subscribed to our messages, even when we erroneously send too many in one day.
Does your family have this same tradition?
What is something you might mention at your Thanksgiving table?
Reply to this email with at least 1 item on your Gratitude List to be automatically entered into a drawing to receive 2 hours of private coaching from us to work on anything that would help you either finish 2019 strong, or propel you in to 2020 the most.
We look forward to reading your Gratitude List and helping you in every way we can!
Wishing you a fabulous Thanksgiving,
Hank & Sharyn – Yuloff Creative
Phone: (800) 705-4265
PS We’ll announce the winner via email next week, so please continue to stay tuned to your emails.