To develop your company you need more successful deals closures. You already know that marketing is not fat, but muscles, but how to generate more deals if your promotion budget is tight? The answer is networking – a buzz word, in business context shall be defined as making connections enabling building long term relations with potential of value creation.
How networking differentiates from other form of marketing communication? It doesn’t work without amino acid communication interface. In other words it’s about very direct human to human interaction.
What differentiates networking from casual chit-chats? The former gives you justification and purpose for further business relationship building with reference to the acquaintance you already made. Being not total stranger to a person you networked with increases chances for positive reply to asks you make.
So how art of the start in business networking shall look like? There different schools deepening relationships and connections making, and everyone should use what fits and works for ones best. Such toolkit can derive from e.g D. Zack “Networking for people who hate networking” combined with J. Gitomer “Sales Bible“. Such business-networking toolkit would consist of “powerful phrase” you prepare and master upfront to the context of networking opportunity you are to join, some “opening gambits” you use to start conversation, some “middle game” questions you ask to maintain its dynamics and some “end game” techniques for conversation closing just before jumping to another one to make connections with as many people relevant for your business as possible.
O.k., so how to start, and why “powerful phrase” is so important? Ask yourself a question, if person you’ll speak is to remember only one thing from the conversation, what should it be? Powerful phrase sells your area of expertise, experience and care or someone’s business. It enables you to get information you need for successful follow-up, and it is still clear and short. You think it is impossible to prepare such a sentence?
Let’s take a look of how such a phrase could look like for somebody, who e.g. offers running fun pages of companies in professional way. Such sentence could go like this: “Hi, I’m […] from […], I support companies in running their social media in one-stop-shop way. From my experience I know how important today is to have constant, direct interaction with company stakeholders. What do you do to hear the voice of your customers?”’
Need another example? Let’s assume there is a new market entrance advisor. For him such sentence could go like this: “Hi, I’m […] from […], I support companies in setting up businesses up new places. From my experience I know that new companies don’t reach out to government incentives and tax exemptions they are entitled to. What do you do to make sure you enter new market in money-wise way?”
You have your phrase, hopefully several variants of it, and you go to a networking event. How you make the first step? Be creative! Opportunities multiply if you start looking for them. In event environment “opening gambits” apply even to standing in a line for food, e.g.:
· Would you like to join me checking the desserts?
· Where did they found strawberries in the middle of winter?
· Do you know what kind of cake this is?
· Here it is! (When passing the plate to the person right behind you)
· Do you also would like to try this? (When choosing something for yourself)
You get the reply, and communication has started. How do you switch to “middle game”? Don’t forget that you are in the middle of this for business purpose, therefore what could works is:
· What kind of work do you do?
· What do you like most about your work?
· What interesting projects are you working on?
Don’t forget to go here with your powerful phrase you have been working so hard.
At this moment you have more than more than needed to set up successful relationship building plan, and it is also very good moment to stop to leave person you have been speaking “craving for more”. So how, which “end techniques” will not make your speaker feel offended and enable you to circulate ?
· Be honest and say “I promised myself that I will circulate. I’d better walk around.”
· Appreciate time you received and say “I am sure you want to talk with others. I won’t hold you up” or “I am sure there are others who want to talk with you. I don’t want to hold them too long.”
· Don’t end without “May I have your card?” “It’s been great meeting you”, “I enjoyed the conversation, thank you” and of course “I look forward to following up !”
Good networking is not about talking to someone to death, but rather about rising someone’s curiosity in clear and crispy way to get their full attention later. It will make effective usage of marketing and communication materials you can now send attached to the “Thank you note” to the person you spoke with. You know what they say – no follow up – no networking.
Not to forget that it’s also about fun. Because if there is no fun, what’s the point?