Offline Networking – 7 Steps for Success at Business Functions
In this article we discuss a methodology for effective networking at business networking functions. We have based this on information in Bob Burg’s popular book: Endless Referrals. Using these steps will greatly improve your effectiveness in getting referrals for your business and your networking partners. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Have the right attitude, meaning that you are prepared to work. Although network and establishing beneficial win-win relationships is fun, you shouldn’t treat this like a party or happy hour.
2. Sincerely work the crowd with a concern for truly establishing win-win situations for yourself and especially others.
3. Introduce yourself to someone new; especially someone who is a “center of influence.” These people have usually been in the community for a long time and are very established and have many contacts that you want to know. Although you can usually spot these people in a meeting, you may need to do some research and investigative work prior to the meeting so you know who you want to know ahead of time. When you locate a promising contact, exchange names and then ask what he or she does. When asked what you do, use a short “benefit statement,” and then quickly move on to the next step.
4. Talk about them and use “feel good” open-ended questions to “interview” them. Use questions such as “What do you enjoy most about your profession,” etc. Do not talk about yourself and your business. After learning as much as you can about them and when an appropriate time comes, ask the following:
How can I know if someone I’m speaking to is a good prospect for you?
Unless someone else has been trained in Endless Referrals, it is likely that you will be the only person in the room using this approach method.
5. Ask for your new contact’s business card and then move on to another “center of influence,” repeating the process in steps 1-4 with this person.
6. After at least 30 minutes, go back to one of the original contacts and call them by their name. This will make a significant impression, since he or she has by now forgotten your name.
7. The final step, creative matchmaking, is the “hallmark of networking mastery.” This involves, if possible, introducing your new contacts to others in the room who may represent a beneficial connection. When making the introduction, use what you learned in Step 4, sharing what makes a good prospect for your “new” contact. Ideally you’ll introduce two of your new contacts to each other this way and excuse yourself so they can “chat.” Although you were the “matchmaker,” it is very likely that YOU will be the subject of most of the conversation between them.
This concludes our brief synopsis of the 7 steps for most effectively networking at you next event. You should view this as a goal that you want to be able to eventually reach as an expert networker. If you’re new at it, take it a step at a time, so that you will build confidence gradually and not become discouraged trying to achieve all of these steps your first time out. If you do these steps, you’ll be in a much better position to follow-up on the business cards you’ve collected.