Last week, I wrote about the importance networking has in developing relationships and communication skills. The point was that you should embrace networking events, not avoid them.
But once you are in the thick of one, what then? If you remember to do just TWO things, you will discover the true benefits of effective networking.
Make a Promise, Then Deliver It
You’re in the heat of the event. Things are going pretty well. You’re speaking with smart people and getting “into” being interested, instead of trying to BE interesting first.
Through your dialogue, you pick up on an opportunity to send an important piece of information to the person you’ve been speaking to that will help them. Seize the opportunity…and do it!
Say to them, “From what you’ve just spoken about, there is a piece of data I’ve run across that would help you. I’m happy to send it. What’s the best way to get it to you?”
Simple, right? You’ve just genuinely helped someone, gotten their contact info and created a next step designed to bring you closer to doing business. The one catch; make SURE you send the data the next day. Delivering on a promise credentials you and gets you noticed by potential clients/customers. The opposite hurts your reputation and you become unreliable in their minds.
Ask for Referrals
In my first year of sales, I learned a lot about selling. The one technique I will never forget is that of gaining referrals. My first sales manager illustrated how to ask and gain them and then demanded I do likewise. At that time, I had no choice, he demanded it and I’ve never forgotten him for it. Thanks Nick!
Here’s the idea: you’re in a meeting with someone post-networking event and you realize that he/she can be a good resource for you.
Here’s the “ask.” “From what we’ve spoken about I realize that Person X is going to meet someone eventually who will offer to help with this project. The question is, will they deliver the service with the level of thoroughness/comprehension we’ve just spoken about? Would you be comfortable introducing me to “X” so that I can discuss the project in more detail and we can determine if I can help?”
Asking for, and getting, a referral is a strong way to establish an initial relationship both with the person giving the referral AND the person to whom you are referred. It gives you an edge as you compete for business.
Try these two networking tactics and let me know how it goes.