This is the last post in the series of five about networking blunders. I’m concentrating on adverts and flyers this week and the damage that can be caused by distributing them when networking. It’s similar to the dreaded “next day” newsletter.
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As usual, I’ll qualify my sweeping statement above and say that it’s OK to provide flyers to people you already know. That’s because they are keen to help you. Conversely, it’s not great when someone tramples on the etiquette of an event or group by distributing flyers. Their personal and company brand can be damaged. They can be forgiven if they don’t know it’s frowned upon yet you could argue that they should have asked.
Why shouldn’t I dish out flyers?
Flyers, leaflets or promotion of products as an immediate solution is advertising. The online version is an advert in a discussion forum. Networking is not the right environment for an advert. It is prudent to have a promotion. It is great if you present details that highlight the benefits of what you do. Yet it is counter productive to do this in an environment where advertising is frowned upon. Networking is a form of permission marketing so you must get permission before marketing. Once you have done that it is OK to promote the benefits of what you do. But you must get permission first.
A good example of someone who has got it right is Graham. He visits network groups from time to time and is accepted with open arms. This is because he’s helpful and he’s taken the time to build relationships. When he hands out his leaflets they tell us a story about someone who had serious stress that he relieved. And he waits until he has permission before he hands out his leaflets.
Why do networkers advertise when they should be engaging?
Because they want a quick win. To prove the point I’ll tell you a story. A child walks into school for the first time, shouts hello to everyone at once and says “My Dad is the chairman of the local football club. I can get a ticket for people that are nice to me”. The word you are looking for begins in W, yes a “wally” (Our cousins in the US can respond and let us know what their version of a wally is). Most people think she is arrogant, yet she’s probably just nervous and wants to make friends quickly. Perhaps people distributing flyers are looking for sales rather than mutually beneficial relationships?
Another child walks in a couple of days later, says hello to those that approach him and listens intently to what’s going on. When someone indicates that they are a big fan of the local club he tells them (quietly) he might be able to get them a ticket from time to time. The whole group will hear about his generosity in a short period of time. And they don’t know his Dad is the chairman. He knows that if he waits, is just “himself” people will grow to like him and relationships build from there. If you like this analogy take a peek at the Marshmallow Test post which highlights the difference between the two mentalities.
When can I use flyers when networking?
The short answer is when you have permission or when it directly addresses a concern that has been raised. Why annoy people you’ve just met. Surely, you would rather engage them? The difference is clear.
Another good example is Lucy who runs a magazine that’s great for those that want more business in Kensington. Lucy doesn’t expect people to read her literature. Instead she asks them to leave her magazine on buses and trains if we don’t have time read them. Lucy’s happy to do this because they are of sufficient quality to be read and collected by people who live or work in the area. They are a good read; packed with local information, education and fun. Lucy knows that most people will not want to advertise in her publication yet experience shows that they find their way into the hands of people that like the style of the magazine.
Wrap up: Networking is a form of permission marketing so advertising is OK if express permission has been granted. Leaving information is probably a waste of time and the resources spent producing it. It’s best to build relationships first.
Top Tip: If you meet someone that distributes flyers at events without permission tell them to hang around until the end as they can probably collect most of them. This may help them realise it’s a waste of time, effort and resource. The moderators in online groups will usually advise those that advertise not to do it again.
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