This month's sales tip is about networking - we all do it to greater or lesser extents. In fact I read somewhere that your income is directly proportional to the number of people you know! And just one contact can end up being worth thousands. But many of us dread those social/work type evenings. So here are some tips:
Networking - top tips
Get there early - then you've got the edge as other people arrive
Always have your business cards with you - you never know who you'll run into in the supermarket or at a friend's house
Ask everyone for their card - they'll be flattered, and you never know. Even if it's no good for you it may be useful for someone else who you know/meet, and then you've done a favour for two other people!
Write notes about them on the back of their card - in 6 months time you won't remember them.
Talk first, look at their name tag second. It looks really bad if you read the name tag BEFORE deciding they are worth talking to!
Be interested in them - don't worry about talking about yourself. You learn more like this, AND appear a nicer person.
Prepare some generic open questions - so you don't have to think too hard when you're in the thick of things. Just things like "what do you do at Bloggs Associates?" and "how long have you been an engineer?" or "how did you first get started in Engineering?"
Describe yourself in a way that prompts questions - what do you say when people say "What do you do?" If it's a conversation killer like "I reconfigure mainframes" then you might want to think again. I sometimes say "I teach bosses to be better bosses" and guess what people always say?!? that's right...."When can you have a go at mine?" which is a great conversation starter!
What's your hook / USP / proposition? There needs to be something unique about you. What is it?P
lan your elevator pitch - imagine you only have 30 seconds to say what you do - what words will you use? Get these down pat.
What do you want them to do as a result of meeting you? - maybe have a call to action you can give them, like "Why don't you call me if you get situation X happening?". This will then be filed away in their brain.
Even if they can't directly help them, ask them if they know anyone who... You've probably heard that thing about "You're only 6 links away from anyone in the world" and for people who might do business with you it's probably only 2 or 3 links. And people like being asked for help like this.
Keep in touch - even (especially!) if you don't want anything from them at the moment. Call them or e-mail them occasionally with information, or an invitation to something, or a question. Who knows where it will lead. Calling them only when you need their help is a bit off, after all.
So there we are, the dodgy world of networking! But why not think of it as "making friends and helping people"? It might even be fun!
onwards and upwards
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