Five Habits of
Highly Effective Networkers:
How to Turn Chicken Dinners into New Clients and an Endless Stream of Referrals
by Adam Urbanski,
The Marketing Mentor
My recent statement that “networking is expensive and ineffective” unleashed
a fury of angry emails. Some of my friends who run business networking
organizations were quick to defend this popular marketing vehicle. Frankly, I
still think networking doesn’t work. At least the way it’s done most of the
Before you to rush to crucify me for this comment let me explain…
Fact is majority of people have no clue how to make their networking count.
They attend the wrong meetings, use boring self-introductions, can’t recognize a
good prospect if one stepped on their toe, don't know how to elicit interest in
their service, give no value in conversations with those they meet, gobble down
their rubber chicken, rush out and never follow-up…
Why even bother to pony up the cash and show up in the first place?
Does this sound too familiar? It certainly did for me when I was starting out.
Instead of STRATEGICALLY SELECTING and LEVERAGING a couple of groups that
could get me lots of local visibility I hopped around from one group to another
getting little or no results.
I was frustrated, attending any of those meetings was no longer fun and
exciting, and each time I collected a few more ‘useless’ business cards I was
becoming more discouraged and jaded. I knew I needed to do something differently
but I didn’t know how.
With time I discovered that I could learn how to be better at networking –
and so can you. As a matter of fact, by practicing a few of the following
tips you can turn your face to face promotional efforts into a powerful business
Marketing Mentor’s Five Habits of Highly Effective Networkers
I often joke that every new business owner should be jailed for 30 days – so
that they have time to think and develop a business strategy. You must take time
to plan your networking activities or you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed
and frustrated. Here are at least three things you need to address ahead of
Know what you are looking for. It’s like going fishing; you must know
what fish you want to catch before you choose a fishing spot. Conversely, you
must know who your ideal prospects, how to recognize them and what is the best
'bait' to attract them.
Develop a magnetic ABC (Audio Business Card). It blows me away that smart
business people spend days and weeks designing their printed business cards, but
when asked what they do they quickly degenerate into a blubbering, brainless
Don’t bother going anywhere until you develop an attention getting Audio
Business Card that clearly communicates who you work with, the problems you
solve and the benefits of working with you.
Find the right group (for you). Even the best marketing message won’t
matter one bit if you are hanging out with a wrong crowd. Identify groups that
are most likely to attract either your ideal clients or those who already have
access to your ideal clients.
If you’ve networked once or twice before you inevitably had the displeasure of
running into that self-centered, never-stops-yapping-about-themselves bore! What
we don’t realize is that we often are THAT BORE!
Hey, I can’t blame you for being excited about your business. But frankly, what
you do is boring to others. So stop trying to be interesting and become more
INTERESTED. Talk less and listen a lot more!
Dr. Stephen Covey said it best: “Seek to understand before you seek to be
understood”. Frankly people never do business with you just because they
understand what you do. They do business with you because they FEEL
HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS
Learn to engage people in conversations that will leave them energized and
Ask provoking questions that cause the other person to shift how they
think/look at life or business.
Share a success tip that worked for you or a little known resource that
will save them time/money.
Make a connection and open the door...Facilitate an introduction to
someone who you think can become a valuable contact or a potential client.
Most people are tired of exchanging trivialities and welcome this fresh
approach. Amazingly, such attitude of ‘being of service’ will set you apart
from others and land you more new business than even the best sales pitch you
could ever develop.
MAKE FRIENDS NOT SALES
Asking a few questions about your business doesn’t make someone a prospect or a
buyer! Pushy, self-centered requests for business and referrals expressed too
early in the conversation come across as rude. No one likes to be sold so
people will run away from you.
Instead, make it your goal to meet and connect with other like-minded
individuals who you like as a person and focus on developing long-tem
business relationships with them.
In the five years of running my coaching and consulting business, I can remember
fewer than ten people who promised to connect with me after I met them and
actually did. Sadly, majority of professionals get so busy collecting new
business cards they forget to stay in touch with people they already met.
Develop follow-up tools – reports, articles, audio CDs – that describe
your product or service in an engaging, informative way. Start publishing an
ezine or a one-page, printed monthly newsletter.
Whatever you do you must find a way to systematically follow-up to maximize your
networking ROI (return on investment).
(c) 2004 Adam M. Urbanski
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