As I watch networking professionals I am amazed by how few are truly professional in their approach to Networking. When I first started participating in Business Networking I was startled by how many of the networking groups were run, how much some charged and what they offered for those fees.
If I am being charged a significant fee to join a group I expect specific things to come out of that group. How about you?
I expect regular business training, regular opportunities to network with specific results or I expect a relationship with other members that should result in business connections that result in new business.
I have seen organizations claiming networking opportunities where they say 200 other networkers are going to participate and they offer a location and charge a minimal fee. It turns out the ‘location’ for this professional networking is a bar/club with no specific area roped off and loud music playing. That makes the fee ridiculous because anyone can enter a public place and join in, the music is detracting from your ability to communicate and many people will not wear the name tags that designate you as a networker making it impossible to know who is there to drink and who is there for business. and yet, I meet people who say they attend these events and are successful.
So then, as a Network Professional who trains people how to network I ask, so what made this so successful for you? And inevitably these professionals answer with “I got a lot of business cards”.
Hmmmm, let me ask, is this how you determine if you are having a successful networking event? How many business cards you can get and file into your ‘rolodex’?
A successful networking event is one where you speak to enough people, learn about those people so that you can have an inkling as to whether you and they might be able to affect their business in such a manner as to make meeting at another time to discuss business so that you might be able to offer them a solution to a problem they are having that will result in an effective business solution that will be good for both parties involved. And that number is typically one to four people (depending upon the duration of that event) because you will have to speak to many people to find the very few that your company or product can truly help.
And if you think getting their business cards so you can ‘spam’ email them with your solicitation in the hopes that they might find a need to call you then you are in the wrong business and are not networking as a real professional.
There are five questions you need to ask at every networking opportunity to see if you can find a need and fill it. Do you know those five questions?
There is a specific nature to getting someone to ASK for your business card so you never GIVE one to someone who has no use for it. Do you know how to do that?
So you see, those are the first two areas of networking that start you on the Professional Networking path. Those two areas happen in the first meeting between you and your potential client. Those two things start many other things on the course to your having made a successful connection from Professional Networking.
And we haven’t even started talking about what should be on your business card to make it an effective tool in your business, how you can guarantee yourself a sit down meeting with that key person of influence who can make that business decision so you can close a sale. And I haven’t even started warming up on this topic.
What can make you a professional networker? Not just the group you have joined but whether or not you know how to activate that group so they are effective for you.
I am Steve Sapato, professional trainer and business coach and I hope you become as successful as your dreams.