Be Strategic Not Scattershot to Make Networking Pay Off

ABOUT THIS CONTENT
Taking a scattershot approach when networking is the biggest mistake we see people make. Don’t try one mailing, one dinner, and one speech – in rapid succession – then say, “Well, those things don’t work!” Neither does joining all the area Chambers of Commerce and an alphabet soup of civic and service clubs. But strategic networking can bring in the business. Use these tactics to help you become more focused and strategic.

By Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon

Taking a scattershot approach when networking is the biggest mistake we see people make. Don’t try one mailing, one dinner, and one speech – in rapid succession – then say, “Well, those things don’t work!” Neither does joining all the area Chambers of Commerce and an alphabet soup of civic and service clubs. But strategic networking can bring in the business.

Use these tactics to help you become more focused and strategic.

Profile Your Prospects
What kind of people, exactly, do you want to work with? Write a client description. One private bank determined that women over 60 were their targets – but women with a certain level of assets. What would these women be interested in? Perhaps antiques. Their marketing included a very posh “cream tea” at an elegant hotel with a speaker from Southby’s and a free antiques appraisal. Current clients were invited to bring their friends – and did.

Know What Networking Is
Think of networking as teaching people (who might become clients or refer clients) who you are and what to come to you for.

The first question that comes up in any conversation with a new contact is, “What do you do.” Most people give their industry (I’m in financial services.), their company (I’m with Principal.), their occupation (I’m an insurance agent.), or their title (I’m a Wealth Management Advisor with TIAA-CREF.) If you’ve been saying one of those things, you’re getting the conversation off on the wrong foot. Instead, say one sentence that tells one specific thing you want people to remember. If you wear many hats, take them all off but one. Then say a second sentence that gives a short example of you solving the problem, serving the client, or saving the day. A CPA says, “I’m a CPA who negotiates with the IRS. I just convinced the IRS that my client’s horse farm is a business, not a hobby.” This 2-sentence model guarantees you’ll give people something to talk with you about, rather than just responding, “Oh, nice.” when you give your title.

Teach People To Trust You
You’ve heard it before: “People want to do business with people they trust.” Before people will come to you, they want to be assured of your character and competence. That example, as you tell what you do, must give evidence of the 2 Cs. Client confidentiality, of course, means that you say things like, “A typical client . . . “

Pursue Your Passion
Target potential clients based on common interests. One former pro baseball player targets professional athletes for his financial advisory business. Instant credibility and rapport. One young lawyer, who had competed in ballroom dancing, found clients when he attended tea dances on Sunday afternoons. The senior members of his firm sat up and took notice as his dancing partners began to show up on his client list.

Take your networking to the next level. Be strategic.

Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are co-authors of Make Your Contacts Count (AMACOM 2007) and co-founders of Contacts Count, the nationwide training company specializing in business networking. For more information, visit them at http://www.ContactsCount.com For help with your Job Hunt get 50 downloadable Tips at http://www.contactscount.com/jobhunt.html for just $3.99 or hone your skills in a webinar with Lynne by going to http://www.contactscount.com/webinars.html

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