Here are four ways the secret can be revealed, albeit unintentionally. Which of these 4 gaffs have you seen made lately and which annoys you the most?
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I recently read a post highlighting networking event blunders and loved it. I found it on a website from the US so I thought I’d share it with you and add my UK perspective.
It was all about the undeniable feeling that some networkers want to sell their stuff as soon as they’ve met you. My view is that we have all been guilty of this at times? I know I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum. Yet I’ve learned that helping others is a more profitable form of lead generation when networking for business.
Here are four ways those harbouring the secret incriminate themselves:
- Networkers who only show up when they have a sales deadline
- Flyers, leaflets or promotion of products as an immediate solution
- The dreaded next day newsletter (If only Royal Mail were this quick)
- Viewing people as stepping stones – this happens online & offline
This week I’ll explain how to help those with these skeletons in their cupboard and I’ll deal with the reasons why numbers 1-4 are counter productive in later posts.
How do you help networkers that make these mistakes?
A recent post on LinkedIn asked “what do you want from your network?” One response was “people with budgets and a need” which indicated sales were expected. There are people with needs at every networking event. Connect the need to the solution. Both parties may not want what you have. But people they know might so it is vital you are able to engage and connect.
It doesn’t help when people are told by their sales manager or sales directors that they should return from networking events with business. This could be a fundamental reason for the faux pas. Selling to all and sundry will not generate the consistent income they need to reach their targets. Typically, people with budgets and a need are at “meet the buyer events”. They may cost more than networking events yet it is a clear sales opportunity. Perhaps they don’t know they exist, you can enlighten them. That’s a great way to engage, providing useful information.
Overt attempts to sell occur when networkers don’t know any better and we should try and help them. Let them know that their techniques are not helping their reputation. Be gentle and they will appreciate it. And that appreciation helps you develop rapport.
You will always meet people who try and sell when networking online and offline. It is inappropriate to sell all the time. It is not inappropriate at all times. So let them know if they have misjudged the audience. Go easy, you’re trying to build a brand too and they may know someone that needs your service. If it appears they would like to hear more find out what they need to introduce you to the prospect. Don’t treat them as a stepping stone, allow them to be an advocate.
Why do people still sell instead of networking?
I sometimes receive the advertising material of a networking specialist stating there is “nothing new in networking”. Of course there is, the people that don’t know about the evolving etiquette continually sell at events. I compare this comment to Alan Sugar when he said the iPod would be a failure. Even guru’s can fall behind.
There are always going to be ways to improve your networking results. As an example, I recently attended a seminar by Mark Williams who has spent a lot of time on LinkedIn as it has evolved. He is too modest to say he has mastered it yet I was impressed by his expertise . There are so many opportunities to take advantage of.
Henry Ford once said that “if I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. He found a way to develop a profitable business by providing something truly valuable. It took him a while to do it yet he tried and tested different things until he cracked it.
There is no doubt that immediate sales can be found when networking yet that’s down to luck or planning. As long as the luck continues the attempts to sell continue too. Once the luck has run out, what is left? Personal brand and reputation. Those viewed as “salespeople” are unlikely to be introduced to highly prized connections.
Wrap up: It’s OK to promote your wares when networking yet it is a form of permission marketing. Take time to observe the etiquette of the different networking environments. Help others in order to develop a strong brand.
Top Tip: Observe the behaviour of the group you are in before you do anything. Listen to others and help out those that you can, especially if they are pitching when they should be engaging.
More about this dirty little secret over the next four weeks. My pet hate is the next day newsletter. Which one annoys you most?
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