Getting Information From Prospects
You're at a networking function and you've made that all-important contact. You want to get help from this individual but you know that you need to start working on building a relationship with them first. How do you do that?
The hardest thing for people to understand about networking functions is that very little real business gets done on an initial contact at these functions. If you go into the function NOT EXPECTING to get business, but to make contacts, you will have a far greater success rate. When your approach is one that is obviously intended to drain your current contact of all of their contacts and resources, you will be met with opposition.
You need to draw the attention away from yourself and onto the business prospect at hand. I have found that a great response when asked to introduce myself at a function is to state my name, and my company's name, followed by "I am here to see how I might best be able to refer some business to your firms".
Yes, you read that right. I don't make any attempt to talk about what I do. "But", you say", how will I get any business for my firm if I don't TALK about my firm?". You won't get any anyway, in most cases...People have no relationship with you. But they will if you take this approach. This opens up a whole new avenue of discussion- THEM!!
People love to talk about themselves. They could spend DAYS at it. The conversation should center around THEM- what they do and how they do it, how they got their start in that field, what changes they have seen in their industry- anything about THEM.
The goal here is to find a reason for a follow-up contact. A contact that can be made away from this group environment. In other words- a one-on-one contact. I have gotten into the habit of writing notes on the back of business cards about points brought out by the prospect which could aid me in a follow-up contact.
This follow-up may be business or it may be personal. I have found information in the newspaper about a firm's competition and forwarded it to my contact with a note saying- "Thought this might interest you". I have also heard about people's families and seen info about their children's Little League team and forwarded that.
It doesn't matter what prompts the follow-up as long as it PERSONALLY matters to the prospect- to their work or to their family. It proves that you were listening and that you are willing to give before you receive.
It also sets you apart from all the people who are at these functions trying to push their own business. It helps you get past the "gatekeepers" when you can say "I'd like to speak to Mr. Jone's about the info I sent him about his son". You always get connected to him and remembered by him.
I attend many functions and never mention to anyone anything about what I do. I spend the whole time listening and writing. I understand I am not going to "close any sales" then. These people don't know me. But before I leave, I know a lot more about them.
Next time: What do you say when someone finally does ask you, "Well, what do you do?".
Nancy Roebke, is the Executive Director of Profnet Inc, a professional business leads generation corporation. We bring business professionals together in a non-competitive environment to help each other make more money.
Copyright c Nancy Roebke
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