Strike Gold and Bring Value to Your Clients
(By James Bahm) Remember this the next time you’re at a networking event: You don’t know whoo the other person knows. Therefore, the first thing you should say after the introduction is “Who is a good referral for you?” It shows how much you value what they do and what they have to say.
Too many times I’ve seen someone make an introduction and they immediately try to sell me on something. (This is extremely prevalent on LinkedIn.) The purpose of networking is not to SELL it is to NETWORK. Yes, there are occasions when you are looking to meet with a specific person because your station has an event coming up and they would make an ideal partner.
START WITH A “NO”-ORIENTED QUESTION AND CALL OUT A NEGATIVE
In his book Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss says that no-oriented questions put the person with whom you’re speaking at ease; and calling out a negative diminishes it every time. Therefore, if you’re at a networking event and need to approach someone, say this: “Are you opposed to a good idea? I’m sure it seems rude and out of place for me to say this, but based on what you said your focus is for your company. How would being a part of ABC event help you reach your goal?” Trust me, this approach will pay dividends for you.
GIVE FREELY AND EXPECT NOTHING IN RETURN
Business Network International operates under the motto of “Givers Gain.” I’ve attended several meetings over the years (even been a member of a couple of chapters), and one thing I hear at every meeting are members saying, “A good referral for me this week is…” and usually a fellow member (or guest) will be able to then pass along a referral.
While that is a good way to get referrals, the best way that I have seen referrals passed is with a warm introduction. You know Bill is looking for a good plumber to work with on their new project. Steve is a plumber client you have on the air. Take a few moments and tell Steve that your friend Bill is looking for a good plumber to work with and would it be okay to send both a brief email introduction so they can do business together.
I passed along a referral this way for two business associates, and both sent me a personal thank you note for making the introduction – and to my surprise my client increased their spend. It took me a couple of minutes to compose the message, and connect two professionals who were looking to expand their business.
It only takes a few extra minutes to make a tremendous amount of difference in another person’s life. Networking works best when your sole purpose is to connect the people you know with the people looking to do business with them. Yes, there’s the risk when you consider that they may not return the favor and make an introduction on your behalf. But you haven’t lost anything other than those few minutes.
SET APPOINTMENTS AND FOLLOW UP
One thing I’ve seen far too many times is when a rep is given a lead and it sits on their desk for a few days (or months) and they miss out on a golden opportunity to get new business.
When networking, once you introduce yourself and discuss a little bit about what you do, you may have someone who would like to talk with you further (I usually set a handful of appointments at every networking event I attend). When this happens, ask to meet in a day or two over coffee, or maybe bring bagels to their office for their co-workers and use that time to see if the opportunity is there to form a working business relationship. And schedule it as soon as possible!
It’s worth repeating: You don’t know their business contacts, and who they know can tremendously impact your business’ growth! If you want to be known as a person who solves business problems and can make an impact for your clients, passing warm referrals will set you apart from the rest — and you will ultimately get what you give.
BOTTOM LINE: When you are networking, keep your focus on helping others, not on selling your products/services.
Questions to Ponder: In what ways do you make networking golden for others? If you could offer one piece of advice to young professionals, what would it be?
James Bahm is a broadcasting veteran and owner of the Bahm Consulting an Advertising and Sales consulting company in Las Vegas, NV. To contact him, please send him a message via LinkedIn, or email: [email protected].