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So you’re going to a Networking event. Are you a Dealer, Seller, Collector or Connector?

So, you’re going to a Networking Event. Brilliant – you’ve just increased your career and business opportunities. Or have you?

Meeting new people and reconnecting with previous contacts isn’t enough to win you new business, get you referrals and to increase your career opportunities.

Contacts are great but it’s the relationships you create that really matter.

Of course you will meet new people but the way you meet them and the first impressions they receive when you do will directly influence the relationships you build in the weeks, months and years that follow.

Over my long career as a business networker I’ve recognised 4 regular players in the Networking Game. I’ve also played all 4 roles and noticed a massive difference in my effectiveness depending upon which of the roles I’ve chosen at a given event.

The 4 players are Dealers, Sellers, Collectors and Connectors and their personal networking effectiveness varies immensely.

I started out as a Dealer and my mission was to get my Business Cards into the hands of everyone I met. As I said hello I would hand over a Business Card just to make sure that they got my contact details right from the start. I always took a big stack of cards with me and my aim was to leave the meeting having given them all away. I would effectively Deal them to everyone I met.

After attending quite a few meetings I realised that some of the other people were using a different strategy. They were looking for the sale and to close business on the day. They were Sellers so I tried that approach as well. In addition to handing my cards over as I said hello, I would focus my conversation on finding out what they do, what they buy, what services they need and ‘I can quote you for that business today’. It didn’t work because I eventually realised that I never actually achieved a sale because the people I was meeting didn’t actually want to buy anything on the day.

I also noticed the people who were leaving networking meetings with big piles of cards because they would literally get a card off everyone they met. These were the Collectors and they built up massive piles of contacts. I thought that was a great idea so I tried that as well. I literally Collected thousands of cards and kept them in plastic business card boxes on a shelf in my office. The trouble was that I was so busy collecting business cards that I never had time to actually do anything with them. I didn’t enter them into a database. I didn’t follow up the contacts I made but of course they were contacts so they were in my network. I knew that I had met someone in a particular type of business but then couldn’t remember who they were or what company they were from but of course they were in my network.

Eventually, I noticed certain people who just seemed to know lots of people at the meeting and they were like magnets attracting new people into conversation. I noticed that they seemed to talk less and listen more but they also did a strange thing in that they focused on helping the people they were meeting by recognising opportunities for them. They then did something unusual in that they introduced them to their contacts who would be great contacts for the new contact. These were Connectors because they focused on listening, learning and connecting the people they met and I was helped by some of them so I tried the same approach and became a Connector.

Prior to this I was always a busy networker and would attend every networking event that I could. People recognised my face and knew who I was but I never really got any business until I became a Connector and focused on helping other people first.

Connectors are the people others think of first.Connectors are they key go to contacts who know the right people when you need help, advice and support. Coonectors are te ones who focus on others first and win regular repeat referral business because they have earned the trust and respect of the people in their network. They don’t just know people in their network, they know about them and remember the details that matter. They help first.

So you’re going to a networking event. Are you a Dealer, Seller, Collector or Connector?

Are you a NETworker or a NOTworker?

Are you a NETworker or a NOTworker?

There are numerous guaranteed ways to alienate people and lose business when networking – if you really don’t want the work that is.

Business Networking is absolutely one of the most effective ways to grow your business opportunities when done well and believe me there are simple ways to ensure you do it well.

Equally there are many simple techniques and tips to guarantee your success as a top NOTworker and below are my 11 favourites:

1. Talk at people rather than to them and with them. You should control and dominate conversations at all costs.

2. Focus on you rather than on the people you meet. Tell everyone you meet all about you and your business interests and personal hobbies. Be aware that they will try to talk about ‘them’ but you can soon bring the conversation back to you.

3. Make sure you give them your business card as soon as you meet them. There is no need to ask if they want it. Have it ready when you meet and offer your card before you even offer to shake hands.

4. Make sure you take a big pile of business cards to every event and hand them all out. Taking your own cards back with you is just a waste and missed opportunity so don’t bother doing it.

5. Don’t look at or comment on their business card when you receive it and be sure to put it away immediately – in your pocket or bag is great.

6. Keep looking around the room for who else you can talk to while talking to them. Remember you are there to meet people and get your information to as many people as possible. You have two eyes so use them accordingly – keep one on your current conversation and the other on the room and other prospects. 50/50 attention and engagement is all you need.

7. Remember to go bigger and better when someone tells you something of interest about them or their business. Whatever they have done or are doing it’s your mission to achieve one upmanship, always.

8. Talk with your mouth full. We all need to eat don’t we so there is nothing wrong in loading your plate up at the buffet and then chomping your way through the pile of food and still chatting. Time is important so this is just multitasking. Of course eating greasy food with your right hand and then shaking hands without wiping it clean first gets you bonus points.

9. Cut into other people’s conversations and interrupt them. Work the room and make sure everyone meets you. Pay no attention to whether they are already in conversation – this is networking right?

10. Ask for the sale there and then – for example you can say something like …

“So Anna who supplies your ………. (mention your products and services)?”

“Well that’s what we do and I’d love to quote for your business. If you have details now I can get you prices today to save time.”

11. Be a Collector and collect as many business cards as you possibly can and follow up with more information about you. This is all about Sell, Sell, Sell – close the business! Get the deal!!

My Guarantee – If you really do have all the business and contacts you want and you want to have fun not building your network any further then these tips will definitely help you to achieve that goal. I’ve seen all these tips used on numerous occasions over my years in business and they absolutely work. If you are struggling and want help just let me know and I will coach you through them for free.

Business Networking doesn’t work for everyone. Or does it?

Have you ever spoken to someone in business who says “Oh yes – I tried networking once and it didn’t work for me”.

Over my years in business and having attending hundreds of networking events, I’ve heard this or a similar phrase many, many times. I’ve also been told that business networking doesn’t work for everyone and for a while I reflected on this point to see if I agree and actually, I don’t.

Now if you put it another way and say “Not everyone who does Business Networking makes it work” then that is another matter. Also, “Not all types of Business Networking events work in the same way for everyone” I can agree with that as well.

Whatever your business or profession, networking at some level can and will have a positive impact on you and your business, especially when you do it well.

Over my last 7 years in business, I have been an active member of a business referral group and I have seen numerous members come and go. Frequently I see people in the same business or profession who achieve very contrasting results from their networking activity. Why is this?

I’ve seen business owners leave declaring that networking is rubbish and a waste of time and then someone else has joined to replace them and they get so much business that they happily declare that the group has been their absolutely best source of business and they wish they had joined years earlier.

The difference isn’t their business or necessarily their professional competence. It is however their attitude. The successful networkers are the ones who commit to and embrace the qualities and values of the group. They focus on helping others first and trust that they will be helped in return. They build trust and respect and because they regularly attend the meetings and support the group and its members, including at social events, they become well known and definitely well liked by their colleagues and associates.

When you start with a great positive attitude and add to that tried, tested and proven skills and techniques of rapport building, etiquette and personal communication among others, you dramatically improve your personal effectiveness.

In terms of not all networking events working in the same way for everyone, it really is important to find groups that you feel comfortable in. Networking is a powerful and highly effective way to generate referral business, wherever you do it.

Networking isn’t a quick fix to generate immediate extra business and sales when you suddenly realise that your orders have stopped coming in. Networking isn’t a hard sell ‘close the deal’ approach to business.

Networking is a slower process for cultivating trust and nurturing contacts and connections. Networking is highly effective at generating strong personal and business relationships that will deliver long-term repeat business on recommendation and referral.

Whatever your business is, having other people tell people they know about you and being happy to refer others to you, is a benefit that will leverage your own time and resources. When you add value for and help the people you meet, many of them will help you in turn.

If however, your focus is on a quick return, ‘a fast buck’, what’s in it for me approach then networking will not deliver what you are looking for.

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Business cards as a marketing tool

Your Business Cards are a vital marketing and networking tool because they are a physical reminder that people you meet will take away and you hope keep, to remind them of their conversation with you. (more…)

February 23, 2011 | Category: Etiquette & Courtesy, Networking Skills, Rapport Building — Tony Altham
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