No, it’s not misspelt. If you read it as NETWORKING – that’s exactly what I wanted you to do. Networking is at the heart of all today’s marketing and selling. But it is NOT WORKING.
How do you want networking to help your business? Most often it is by acquiring clients. How does that happen? You build your contacts list by meeting more people. Where can you do that? Educational and supplier gatherings such as university and bank events, trade shows, church, Chambers of Commerce socials and learning programmes – all obvious sources of your network. The true networker takes it way beyond that. S/he sees every person they meet, including their taxi driver, as a potential source of contacts. How will you ensure that the impression you make is durable?
First impressions are key. Not always right, they are correct more often than we think. What are the first impressions you make on other people? What do they describe you as? How much do you smile, how well do you make and hold eye contact, how alert you are to the other person’s wish to speak – always give way when they want to. How do you react to those who resist your ideas? Above all, how genuinely interested can you be in the other person? Do you treat all the people you meet as friends? Not perfect, not immortal, not infallible, but as the best gifts we have got to work with and the only assets we have to improve the world.
Hawkish about the need to address the climate crisis, I don’t print unnecessarily. I do print business cards. They are more durable than a signal-transmitted email address / number. They convey an image of a business or person no tick-tock can. Simple design, bold name, and a sensible, not frivolous, presentation. Don’t put a picture of yourself on them but do have a distinct symbol. The receiver will associate the symbol with the image they have of you. Your card will sit on the recipient’s desk for a while. It will remind them who you are and the business you are associated with. Their impression of you will work in your favour. You have networked them. You can always have an electronic version of it as well if they want you to send it directly to their cloud. But give them the card, too.
A mistake people often make about networking is number over quality. Since you are not collecting butterfly specimens, numbers don’t matter. Better to get one client at a networking event than to list twenty new names. More sensible to have a good image of, and rapport with, an individual than to be the life and soul of a larger group. The longer you spend with a potential client the better you can ‘qualify’ them. Networking events are the place to do so. People there expect to be asked questions, are flattered when you pay them attention and respond when they trust you. Time and trust have much to do with each other.
Always follow up fairly quickly, but not desperately. Drop them a line on WhatApp or email. Suggest another meeting over coffee or lunch. If they told you anything personal about their business or home life when you met them, especially if it was some sort of a problem or difficulty, refer to it gently – or not at all if their email is a company address – to make a meeting seem worthwhile to them. Showing that you are interested is the next best thing to caring – something that will come about in time as you get to know them better.
KIT is the corollary to good networking. Keeping In Touch is a sign of involvement. It is a word of care from you to them.
Avoid making your networking transactional. You are connecting with them for the purpose of selling. The more your customers or clients are also friends, the better will be the relationship and the simpler will be the communication. We are slowly learning how important it is to help others in this overcrowded world. Some of your transactions will involve generous giving.
For many, courage is the toughest nut to crack over networking. Some are led to believe that asking questions is impertinent, even rude. Others, especially youngsters, are brought up to believe that selling is wrong, not quite decent. The skills themselves are neutral and both questioning and selling can be used for bad purposes as well as for good. They can’t be used at all if you haven’t got them.
Courage to use them grows when you can read people effectively.
So does your order book.
Do you have a view about networking? It could help others to navigate this tricky river.
Please tell me about it by writing to us at email@example.com
15 January 2023