Christian Business Networking, Guest Author
In observing businesses networking at our chapters and events over the years, there are mistakes that novice networkers make that could easily be avoided. We hope these tips are helpful to you!
1. Don’t try to ‘close a deal’ when you first meet someone.
Far too often networking novices push a sale before getting to know their potential customer enough to determine whether or not they truly have a need for their services.
In asking CBN Founder, Maia Arneson, she expanded… “I can remember one past member in particular. When visitors would attend he would sit next to them, ask them who their current service provider was and immediately ask for them to allow him to provide a quote. You could tell that this caused the visitors to shut down to him and it turned them off to the chapter as well.”
When visitors attend a chapter, they go in hopes that they’ll be able to connect and to promote their own business. If they feel that someone in the chapter is too pushy it will sometimes cause them to not only avoid using their services but often they won’t join the chapter either. So, do yourself and your chapter a favor and don’t try to sell to someone you’ve just met.
2. Don’t say that you’re just starting a business.
Would you want to be a guinea pig? The members of our chapters don’t want to be either, especially not with their businesses. Unfortunately, if you’re just starting your business people will assume that you are new to your industry as well. It’s okay that it goes unmentioned. Let your quality product/services shine. Here are some ideas to help you to be honest yet sound professional and seasoned…
• If you have been in your field but are starting your own business out of necessity, focus on the number of years you’ve been in the industry or how you have expertise in the field.
• Share the types of clients you have helped in the industry… even if this was at your previous job.
• When you’re just getting started volunteer your services once a week and then you can use examples of what you’re doing for those clients. If people know you’re just starting out they like to hear that you have other clients. Sharing “a client I helped last week…” puts them at ease.
• Don’t say ‘you’re getting business cards printed & will bring them next week’ it’s better to wait a week and attend fully prepared.
3. Come prepared.
Odds are good that if you’re attending a networking meeting/event that you’re going to be asked to introduce yourself. Take a few minutes before you go to create an introduction. In Christian Business Networking we call these ‘Equipping Introductions’ since you’re using the time to equip your sales force with what types of referrals you’re seeking that week.
4. Don’t oversell yourself or your company.
No one wants to feel like they’re pushed into buying something. Enough said.
5. Don’t undersell yourself.
Even if you’re an introvert you can exude confidence and capability in your area of expertise. Unfortunately, timidity can be perceived as lack of knowledge. You’re the expert in your field. Remember that you only get one chance to create a positive memorable impression.
6. Don’t stress.
Everyone has a ‘first meeting’ that they attend before becoming a member so we all have grace for each other. Relax and stay calm. This may be your first time as a visitor but networking functions have new visitors on a regular basis so they’re used to people being a little bit nervous the first time.
7. Don’t put down the competition.
Even if the competition is really bad you can find tactful ways to talk about them if someone brings them up. If people know of their reputation, they will respect that you didn’t pounce on the opportunity to slam a competitor. Moreover, it actually makes you look bad when you put down the competition. Sell yourself and your strong points. Don’t rely on eliminating the competition, rise above the competition.
8. Consider providing a quick ‘tip’ in your industry that people might not know about.
Every industry has ‘insider know-how.’ Once again, to them, you’re an expert in your industry. A marketing person can share a tip on how to do something new in social media. An interior designer may recommend certain colors, staging ideas or thrifty ways to spruce up a room.
9. Consider arriving early to meet the speaker/facilitator.
This may help ease your jitters but it might also compel the speaker to point you out as they mention visitors. Surprisingly, people rarely arrive early
10. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
If you don’t have 2 hours the next week to follow up with calls or appointments with your new contacts, stay home. Don’t waste your time or theirs. You would be better off to spend that time connecting or reconnecting with your current client base in an effort to increase your client retention. So, another way to say don’t waste your time or theirs is… if you go, follow up.
Copyright © 2012 – Christian Business Networking Founder, Maia Arneson, graduated from the University of Arizona earning a Bachelor’s Degree with dual majors in Marketing & Business Management. In early 2003, after many calls from her contacts inquiring about Christian networking groups and with the support of Colorado-based Red Letter Publishing (www.RedLetter.com), Maia launched Christian Business Networking. Visit their Website!
Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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