I used to be a terrified networker–afraid of those milling crowds and round
table breakfasts. How could a self confident professional speaker extravert
like me be afraid? Here’s my story…
My first networking experience scarred me for years. As a brand new coach, a
networking seminar I attended taught me how to use a 30 second elevator speech
to introduce myself to individuals in a crowd and to allow (force) them to
experience what it is that I do (coach) on the spot through a series of
questions directed at the victim in front of me.
Let me tell you how fast most people I encountered at that cocktail ran away
from me. The most memorable, however was the woman who flat out declared with
wide eyed fear (while physically backing away from me) that she felt that I was
trying to sell something to her and after delivering that blow, fled out of the
building. I followed her not long after and vowed never to return to the foray
of networking for as long as I lived.
Now, years later, I can recognize that there were more than a few issues with
my approach on that fateful day. I had honestly decided to take this key
marketing tool out of my personal toolkit to gain new clients.
I then discussed this terror around networking with my own coach and she
referred me to Coach U founder Sandy Villa’s book titled Power Networking (Bard
Press, 2000). I started experiencing a whole shift in not just the way I
viewed networking but in the whole way I approached marketing my business.
The shift I made from “what can you give me” to “how can I serve your needs”
was a phenomenal change in the way that I marketed my services.
The basic points I’ve learned and apply to successful networking are the
- “Am I networking amongst my target clientele?”
A client of mine used to pay a fortune for a breakfast meeting at her own
industry association. She didn’t get a single client out of it over the three
years that she attended religiously. Sure, she picked up industry trends and
met many colleagues but she wasn’t meeting any potential clients. Once you’ve
picked a solid niche target market, you need to be spending every dime and
moment being in contact with them. Anything else is called education, not
- “Am I clear about exactly what benefit I deliver to my clients?”
When you can’t simply answer the question of “ .. and what do you do?” by
concisely stating what you offer to whom about which
problem, you can’t expect people to refer others to you. They won’t remember to
pick out the essence of what you’ve said; therefore you’ll have wasted your
opportunity to connect with someone who needs your help.
- “What can I offer people I meet?”
Whenever I now meet people, no matter where I meet them, I listen intently to
what they’re saying to see where the helping opportunity for me is. For
example, a gentleman I met at a recent function told me he was looking into
working as a strategist for a not-for-profit organization. Although he was
neither in my target group currently, nor in need of my business services, I
followed up and sent him the name of a person I’d met this year who did exactly
what he was hoping to do. I now consider this gentleman a part of my network.
- “How do I become memorable to my network?
One thing I ask the people on my network is if they’d like to receive my
E-zines. Provided they say yes, whether they’re in my target market or not, they
get a reminder of me once a month.
Another way I keep my network current is to send articles of interest to them randomly.
The key thing is to continue to provide value to my network through a steady stream of kindnesses and referrals, never expecting anything in return.
- “How does this help me get more business?”
It is the most integral part of what I call the Attractor strategy. You are
what you attract and what you attract is what you are. When you provide
value, you are the recipient of similar value.
I have secured clients, speaking engagements and article placements through
these techniques of networking. The terrorized networker that I used to be is
now the most relaxed, caring person in the room.
I challenge you to try the same mental shift and attract business in the same
way that those in the know are doing at this moment, somewhere in a networking
luncheon right now.
With kindness as always,