Cut yourself some slack… you’re human and weren’t born to network. Your boss or mentor probably suggested you (or told you to) network to bring in more clients and business. But what she forgot to mention is you can’t just walk into an event and sell to people the first time you meet them.
Here’s a story about my own personal “networking fail” and what NOT to do.
Many years ago and early in my networking career, I was invited to attend a women’s networking luncheon. I was excited since the attendees were my target market… professionals out networking. I planned to talk to as many women as possible and sell or convince them to come to my events.
I walked into a room of 75 women, with my marketing materials in hand, and scanned the gaggles of women. Hmmmmm, where to start? It didn’t matter where I started. I was there to sell and no one wants to be sold to.
As it turns out, I couldn’t break into many conversations and when I did, the conversation was so one-sided as I talked about myself, my company and encouraged them to come to my events. What a complete turn off!!
The lesson I learned was profound. Not only did I walk away with ZERO interested parties, I felt defeated, deflated, unwelcomed, unproductive and broke, as I’d just spent $45 I didn’t have to spend.
The experience affected me so greatly, I vowed to make networking easier for my clients. I became a student of networking and transformed my personal networking approach, gave our networking events a make-over and began offering bite-sized networking tips to clients, CERTUS networkers and the public via social media and my blog.
Networking isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. In fact networking is very much like going to a dinner party in a friend’s home. So check this out…
At a dinner party, you:
- Meet new people
- Have meaningful conversations
- Ask questions to get to know them
- Form friendships
- Exchange information if you want to see them again
All these activities should also be happening when you network. Just like you wouldn’t go to the dinner party and ask a woman or man you just met to marry you… you wouldn’t go to a networking event and ask someone you just met to buy from you. Big no-no!
So, go to the next networking event with your favorite dinner party hat on, engage in thoughtful conversations and make new friends. If you meet someone who could be a good referral partner, resource, or even a connection for someone else, exchange information and follow up on any promises you make. And repeat.
Then enjoy the desserts of your labor… friendships and connections that lead to new business and referrals.