Updated: Apr 26
Attending the right network events on a regular basis is one of the best ways to increase your business. That being said, I know people who don’t believe networking works because they went to an event and didn’t get any business. Why not? Networking isn’t about pitching your wares, it is about building relationships, establishing trust, and enhancing your personal brand.
FACT: People buy from people they like.
They can’t like you if they don’t know you, and they can’t know you if they never met you. This month we will be reviewing the principals of networking and preparing you for your next networking event so you can reap the rewards of sowing good seed in good networking soil.
Choosing the Right Event
Effective networking starts with the right events that are attracting the right kind of people making it worth your time to be there. In the private sector, I like C-Level (CEO, CFO, CIO, President) events. In the federal sector, I like the same thing except the titles change slightly depending on the agency. There is an important distinction however, Secretary, Directors, Deputy Directors are often political appointees and while important, the operations people who are high up SES (Senior Executive Service) level are also great potential targets.
I like all of these type events because they are loaded with DM’s (Decision Makers). Even if you are not usually selling to C-level types, you can surely benefit from meeting these folks because if they are not in the person who will sign, they certainly know who you should be after. In fact, C-level (or federal equivalents) are the only ones who can, with certainty, direct you to a delegated decision maker. Most of us are willing to pitch to people “we think” are DM’s only to find the vast majority of them need to “run it past” someone else. This means we did not identify the DM. This article is about networking so we will talk about the errors of selling the wrong person later but know this – if you are not selling the DM, you just reduced your close ratio to less than 10%.
There are many groups that are comprised of DM people, it might cost you a little more to get in, but it is usually well worth the price if you have face to face access to real DM’s. Industry events that attract the people that are buying what you sell are also great places to start. The better you are at targeting your potential clients the better you will be at choosing events that make sense for you.
When you choose a good networking event you can be sure that:
Someone in the room can (and will) help you.
There are DM’s (Decision Makers) in the room.
There are coaches, influencers, connectors and possibly and super connectors in the room.
Networking provides exponential prospecting potential if you remember a simple truth - everyone has value. No matter who they are, you can probably help them and they can probably help you. Remember, everyone knows 250 people well enough to introduce you, that is if they think you are worth introducing. Think about how would your business be affected if you had a message that could be understood, remembered and passed on to the right people even in a small group of 20.
Once you pick your events, your networking should become part of your weekly and monthly routine so you become a familiar face about town in the circles in which you want to operate. Consistency is key because it demonstrates that you are organized and dependable. Please, if there is anything you take from this article; remember that networking is about building business relationships- not closing deals. As a decision maker myself, I can tell you that there is nothing more irritating than having someone pitch you at an event.
Want more about Networking?
3 Principles of Networking
10 commandments of Networking