By Bill DeFeo
Networking is the single most effective way to find new customers and generate new business, but it’s something many people don’t do very effectively.
Instead, they go to the wrong events, talk to the wrong people, say the wrong things and make other mistakes. If you want to improve your networking and generate more sales, avoid these eight no-no’s.
1) Not knowing your ideal prospect. Who is your ideal prospect? I ask this question and it amazes me more often than not when a person who is networking provides a less than accurate answer. You have to know who your best potential customers—their age, income, business needs and so on—so you’ll know who to target when you network.
2) Not going to the right networking events. Now that you know your ideal client, you need to look around the events you attend. Are your potential clients in the room? Or, are you simply seeing the same people you see everywhere talking to their same group of friends. If the people you need to reach aren’t at the events you attend, look try some new events (you’ll find a number listed in the calendar in this magazine).
3) Not introducing yourself. When you’re networking, you should be working the entire room to find new people to whom you can talk about your business. And don’t wait for people to approach you. Kelley Robertson, who writes a sales blog called Fearless Selling, says it best: “If you take the initiative to introduce yourself to others you will be perceived as a person of authority and power.”
4) Not paying attention. Networking is a two-way street and even if the person you’re speaking to isn’t a perfect match for your business, he or she could know someone who is. So, be courteous, make good eye contact and give the other person your attention when he or she is speaking. know this can be difficult, I am a little ADD and when I have people waving to me in the background it is hard to focus, but you can do it. Be genuine; make a friend.
5) Not listening enough. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Should I say more?
6) Not asking questions. I love fielding well-thought-out questions because it gives me the impression that the person I’m talking to is interested in me. That encourages me to pay attention when they’re talking as well. Asking good questions also helps you understand other people and their businesses better so you can really help them.
7) Never following up. Did you know that less than 5 percent of the people who network follow up after an event? And those who do often wait too long. Networking is no different than dating in this regard. If you meet a potential customer, contact the person within 24 hours. (The ones who contact me that quickly always end up on the top of my list.) Be in the 5 percent who act quickly and watch your income grow.
8) Not taking your time. It is not quantity of people you network with at each event; it is the quality. Take your time when you work a room, really connect with people, and be interested in them and their businesses.
Networking these days is a must. If you want to be successful, you should try to attend at least three networking events per week. And don’t forget you can network anywhere by just turning around and saying “Hi” to someone. You never know who that person is in line next to you. Remember, show up, connect and watch what happens.