Running a highly engaged online network is one of the greatest ways to add value to many people at the same time, and it reveals more about people faster than any other human interaction.
Many people hate networking, I mean live networking. Sure there are many opportunities from highly structured weekly events where commitment in terms of annual fees and attendance required, to informal free and paid events. The opportunities are endless, and you could spend your entire year attending events. So it’s important to know why you should attend a networking event, right?
What’s Your Purpose?
Business is business!
Your business is there so you can support your family and lifestyle.
Knowing what you want to achieve is the start of any great journey. So take time to decide. What is the purpose of your networking?
- Are you there to be social and make new friends?
- Are you there to catch up with old friends?
- Are you there to talk to colleagues you already know?
- Are you there for a quick sale?
Alternatively, is networking part of the strategy you have to develop new business relationships?
Every Relationship Starts Somewhere
If your business has a clear ideal client, the type that wants to work with you, get great value and love what you do, then hanging out with more of them is a great way to attract ideal clients.
It’s a bit obvious, right?
if you’re shaking your head, “He’s trying to teach me how to suck eggs” the reason is – for me this wasn’t obvious until it was… and that was well into business. Sorry if it’s obvious to you. I wanted to help everyone, all the time, with everything.
But nobody was interested…
I was too busy being eager I was scaring people off. And even if they weren’t scared off, they couldn’t work out how I could help them. I was jumping in solving problems they didn’t know they had, and if they did, they were happy in their business, and didn’t want me to solve them anyway.
Boys out there… ever solved a problem for your partner only to find all she wanted was to be heard? How’d that go for you?
So often, when we’re networking, we’re trying to help so bad, we do just that. STOP IT!
Just Listen… It’s the basis of every great relationship.
I learned recently, there are 12 stages of physical intimacy. True story, here’s a link. It starts with Eye to body, eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand etc… and works through to sex. When we’re out networking we need to be respectful, and not be too familiar before it’s appropriate. I’m not sure the final few steps are ever appropriate when we’re out networking. Taking the time to get to know someone is critical or we’ll get accused of assault.
Jumping in and solving problems, starting a sales pitch, they’re well down the list of business intimacy and we should make sure we’ve taken the time to get to know our prospects first, that they invite us along the journey. That’s when we’ll be creating successful lasting relationships.
Then There’s Online
The whole intimacy issue comes up again.
Notice how online, many people forget they’re talking to other people? All of a sudden some throw the old rules out the window. Here’s where it gets a little creepy.
What if we started treating social media like it was the real world. When you join a group, it’s like walking into a networking meeting. Instead of running in the room waving your arms around and shouting your business name, why not take a little time to get the lay of the land. Look to connect with the familiar, learn the protocols.
Then, as you would in a networking event, introduce yourself appropriately. Explore who’s there, what the meeting structure is and find out about some of those who are around. IF someone asks for help, by all means, help them, but too much of a sales pitch will repel the audience, just like the over-eager sales assistance in the shop.
Take Time to Build the Relationship
Enjoy the journey, find out all there is about people around before you’re trying to whisk them out the door and off to your place. Wait for the signals. Have some light conversation first, flirt a little, watch for signals, and then ask permission to take it to the next level – offline, back in the real world.
If you’ve managed the relationship well so far, you can continue in the real world right where you left off online, just like moving from one venue to the next.
The process of building trust, and displaying credibility isn’t a one-way conversation. It’s a process of engagement, your prospects need to see some value along the way. Even then, just like live, not everyone is ready now.
Make sure you have a way to nurture that feeling, that relationship so you’re still front of mind when the time is right.
Can I Help You with That?
Should be your sales pitch.
When you’ve helped a prospect solve their simple challenge, it’ll lead them to discover there is so much more.
Now they may be ready for your help. If not, be there for them. When your prospect is ready they’ll ask… as long as you’re still there.
It’s a long term game, and your prospect wants to know that you care for them. That you will be there for them and that you’re interested in more than a fast transaction and a few dollars.
Remember – be appropriate and take the time to build the relationship.