Is this your top priority?
It is extremely valuable to know and be known by a wide group of potential customers. Some people are natural networkers, and others learn to love it. But you must be committed to this as a long-term strategy, because networking can take significant time to produce business. And it’s easy to waste time doing it with the wrong people.
The business goal
In the book Endless Referrals, Bob Burg says that the Golden Rule of networking is “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like, and trust.” Therefore the purpose of business networking is to increase the number of potential clients who know, like, and trust you.
Help them first
Beginners often think that they should use networking events to ask people for help. But if your goal is to get other people to like and trust you, this does not seem like the best way to start. Instead, help other people find customers and more. If you help enough people, in time some of them will return the favor.
Questions to ask at a networking event
Sooner or later you will find yourself in a room with a lot of strangers who are all trying to network. Most are as uncomfortable as you are. Your goal in these meetings is to meet as many people as possible, and find an excuse to follow up with each. You do this by asking questions and listening up to ninety-nine percent of the time. Here are five questions to get the conversation started:
Who is your ideal client?
How did you get started?
What do you like most about ____?
Who do you compete with?
What’s the hot trend in ____?
Your benefit statement
For the one percent of the time when you will be talking, you need a five to ten second elevator speech about the benefit you provide. For more on elevator speeches, see the Free resources section of our web page.
Maybe somebody somewhere once got business at a first meeting, but that’s rare. To build relationships, you need to follow up consistently. Look for an excuse to contact people within a week of meeting them, such as providing the name of a book or a professional contact.
Take the first step today
Identify a group that is likely to be a good source of potential customers. Go to their next event and get involved.
This material was adapted from my new book Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide