Memberships in chambers of commerce and other organizations or associations provide wonderful opportunities for business development through networking. They key word here is opportunities.
There is a misconception that networking equals getting sales. This misconception is a recipe for frustration, not success because people normally don’t attend networking meetings to buy, and are turned off by others trying to sell them. To achieve success in networking, one must first understand and approach networking for what it really is: The process of developing win-win relationships. The purpose of attending a networking meeting should be to start developing relationships, not sales. Process and relationships are both time-bound.
The true power of networking lies in the fact that everyone knows an average of 200 people. Rather than an attendee being a sales prospect, those 200 people that he or she knows are potential ongoing resources once the win-win relationship is developed. Resources equal opportunities! So the goal of successful networkers at a networking event should be to set up appointments (three or more is a good objective) with people they meet so they can continue on with the relationship (and resource) building process they have just begun.
Consumer psychology teaches that people normally buy from people they know, like, and trust, and only when they need or want something. Therefore, successful networking for business development means developing trusting relationships first, then providing value added products and services but only when people decide they need and/or want them.
Here are more traits of successful networkers:
Networking Foundation — crucial if you want others to like and trust you.
- Positive mindset. It is your choice, so smile!
- Unconditional giver. It’s not, “I did this for you, so you need to do something for me.” It is all about helping others.
- I am an entrepreneur. I am 100% responsible for my actions because I own my responses to any and all events.
- Purpose and passion or your “why.” Find and live yours and enjoy the ride.
Networking Preparation or your homework. Analyze yourself and your business in writing. Doing so will provide you with ideas for commercials, presentations, marketing materials and more.
- Beyond your products and services, what is your value-added contribution that truly provides for people’s needs and wants?
- Who are your best clients and why? You want more like them.
- Who are great referral sources for you and why? Expand their numbers, but remember to be an unconditional giver too.
- Prepare a benefits statement, tag line, and several short commercials, each of which contain a different, specific “ask.” Working on these should be an ongoing process.
Attend Networking Meetings and remember the purpose is appointments, not sales.
- The best way to get people to like you is to show sincere interest in them. Introduce yourself briefly, ask them about themselves and listen.
- Be a facilitator. Introduce people to others whom you feel they should get to know as potential resources. After doing so, find someone else and do it again.
- Set up appointments.
When you meet, share your homework information, learn more about each other, possibly commit to making introductions for each other and set up a follow-up meeting. Remember, networking is an ongoing process. Enjoy.
Chip Janiszewski is a creative consultant, networking specialist, trainer, facilitator, educator and speaker based in Avon, CT. chipj.com