Networking has become The New Religion
Not surprising because:
- Networking is seen in this current financial climate as low or no-cost marketing.
- Networking is seen as the opposite to hard-sell and cold-calling.
- Networking is seen as a ‘social’, more comfortable or easier way to gain customers, without having to sell or be sold to.
But there’s a problem with that:
- Networking isn’t cheap.
- Without skill, networking is random and produces random results.
- Without a clear strategy and the skills to back it up, networking produces a lame bit of PR of questionable value.
But this only gives a small fragment of the picture. Let’s zoom-out:
You arrive at a networking event having done no real preparation. You don’t know who’s going to be there, but you hope that Fred, who you met last time, will show up because he seemed like a nice guy who might be interested in your services.
You walk into the room, which is full to bursting. Who do you talk to? Who do you recognise? What are you going to say? Who is going to bore you to death with their interminable monologue about what they do?
You spot another accountant – ‘He’s from that other firm. No, hang on, there’s another one, and another, oh, and another. That’s four other accountants’. You think, ‘Well, if I’d know they were going to be represented in force, I wouldn’t have bothered coming’.
But you soldier on …
And it doesn’t end there:
More mature professionals are often quite comfortable socialising: enjoy it, even.
But the rules have ALL changed.
My father was a Rotarian for forty four years. He would have shuddered at the thought of ‘selling’ to his club colleagues, and yet, in his day, THEY ALL BOUGHT FROM EACH OTHER. The loyalty was staggering.
Networking is, to put it politely, a free-for-all. (Virtually) anyone can turn up, and sometimes the competition is fierce!
Standing out is the first hurdle:
What every networker wants to ensure is that they get noticed and remembered. And if you are just one of twenty seven grey suits, how can you make that happen?
How can you leave the meeting having made a lasting impression? How can you ensure that amongst the crowd, when they think, ‘Oh, there’s that great accountant I met’, yours will be the name that springs to mind?
Your name and the name of your business need to be front of mind when people think ‘accountant’; just like everyone chants McDonalds, when they think fast food or burgers.
So how can you and your business achieve this pole position?
It’s all about Influence
We used to call it ‘selling’. Now, we’re more sophisticated and we call it ‘influencing’.
Building profitable relationships in business is down to one thing: your ability to influence the other person or people. It always has been. It’s just that now, the psychology around it has changed.
We need a consistent System
These are the stages of the process. When you get them right, profits flow as a consequence: when you get them wrong, there’s often a great deal of disappointment and a dent to the bank balance.
- Entering the room
- Shaking hands
- What to talk about
- What to say
- How to listen
- How to identify who has potential to buy or refer
- How to get into rapport – with just about anyone
- How to match the conversational style and needs of the other person
- How to influence without overtly selling
- How to identify those people with whom a profitable relationship is most likely to be built
- How to avoid the seven cardinal sins of networking
- Understanding the rules of the game and checking that they do, too!
Which brings me to the best kept secret of face-to-face networking:
Online follow-up: the way to multiply results and make more money
Exactly how and when you follow up your initial meeting is crucial. Your follow-up email or phone call can make or break the relationship.
Send them a salesy email and they’ll hate you for it. Offer to help or ask a great question and they’ll pay much more attention and like you more for it.
Many one-to-ones are a waste of time, because if you have them with the wrong people, they can result in both parties going nowhere – fast.
Qualifying and then testing the other person are essential, and to do this right usually takes an inordinate amount of emotional intelligence and understanding of human behaviour.
After reading all of this, you may be thinking, ‘How does anyone ever get any results from networking?’ And it’s a good question. The truth is that the 80/20 rule still applies. Only 20% of networkers get 80% of the success.
In order to be one of the 5% or 2% that gets the very best results of all, it’s the systematized, consistent and comprehensive approach that will get the outcome. It’s knowing what to do and understanding how to do it that makes the difference. And that is what we teach people to do.
QJ The Inspirationist® – the best psychological tools to get what you want!