It’s net-work-ing. It is hard. All of us know we need to be networking. We have been riding this Covid-coaster for 19 months; it’s time to get our heads back in the game.
Questions: Why do we network? Are we wasting our time networking? Are we wasting our networking time? What is the three-word phrase to successful networking?
You’ve been there countless times. You walk into a networking event and there are groups of people already talking together. You slide into a group and wait for somebody to notice you and ask you the questions: What do you do? Where are you from? Do you come here often? How you doin’? Has Covid affected your business? Please avoid these questions with the passion of an anti-vaxxer.
“Before Covid, I was at a networking event at Pomegranate Café. There were 107 sales reps and no buyers.” ~ Mike Cooper
Most people are thinking of what they want to say instead of listening to what the others are saying. The minute they see lips stop moving they jump into their “Me Me Me” promo and look around for reactions. Typically, another person will jump into their promo-mode and eventually, everyone has spoken, and no one is heard.
The keys to successful networking are listening to everyone, start building relationships and determine who might be a trusted referral source. And arrive early. Be part of the first group of attendees to ensure you maximize your networking time.
Most events last about an hour which means if you want to make 15 new connections, you have about four minutes face-to-face time with each new connection. Prepare for the event by researching the networking group or the attendee list before you arrive. Do not hang out with people you already know; networking time is wasted if you talk with people you already know, like and trust.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ Epictetus
Do not be in a rush to talk about yourself. Spend those precious four minutes asking good questions and really listening to what they are saying. The follow-up coffee meeting is when you get to share your story.
And it all starts with asking the right questions. A few of our favorites include: What’s your story? Where did you grow up? What are you looking forward to? What absolutely excites you right now? What makes you smile when you get up in the morning? What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
A few years back, we met the networking guru, Bob Berg, author of “Endless Referrals.” Before the program, he worked the room and met every attendee. He began his gig by saying the names of all 150 attendees. Very cool trick.
The best question Berg taught us? “How would I know if I’m talking to your ideal prospect?”
Berg’s three-word phrase to successful networking? “Show up prepared,” and Heat Up Your Sales!