Lessons You Have Learned From Networking?

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Any lessons you have learned networking for clients at social events such as chambers of commerce, meetups, BNIs, etc...

What's something you think others should know?

I see alot about giving value first, does this involve free labor?
#lessons #networking
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Nguyen
    Originally Posted by JeffDC89 View Post

    Any lessons you have learned networking for clients at social events such as chambers of commerce, meetups, BNIs, etc...

    What's something you think others should know?

    I see alot about giving value first, does this involve free labor?
    When you network, view it as "going to make friends". Be interested in people and see if you can add "value" to that interaction without trying to push your product / service.

    Do that long enough and people will start to remember and trust you. Soon you'll get a referral.
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  • Profile picture of the author owenlee
    Originally Posted by JeffDC89 View Post

    Any lessons you have learned networking for clients at social events such as chambers of commerce, meetups, BNIs, etc...

    What's something you think others should know?

    I see alot about giving value first, does this involve free labor?
    Remember to follow up with them. Ask question about their industry, what problems are they facing etc.

    Then see if there is anything you can help. Refer them to a article that might be helpful to them is value-add.
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  • Profile picture of the author Orchard
    Is BNI effective for industries that rely on high volume / low $ sales? I've generally heard that it's better for high ticket items/products/services.
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    • Profile picture of the author eccj
      Originally Posted by Orchard View Post

      Is BNI effective for industries that rely on high volume / low $ sales? I've generally heard that it's better for high ticket items/products/services.
      Pretty much. Most pure networking events are that way.
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    The #1 thing I have learned over the years... DONT SELL - LISTEN. Take that even a step further DONT APPROACH ANYONE, let them approach you. - But im going to this thing to mingle you say.

    Alright, so why does this work? You have to pay to go to some of these things... its in someone elses interest that you stay there. THOSE people will approach you. THEY will ask what you do.. you of course answer and THEY will say "hey, come over here and meet so and so, they are looking for someone that does that." And once you are there... #1 thing learned: DONT SELL - LISTEN. Let them spew off about thier pains and their problems and what team they like best... when you set up a meeting after the fact you can speak directly a language they will understand... and have answers for the issues they are hsving - basically you can close a deal.

    Think about tis setup and a far simpler level... you standing there getting approached, you are then REFERED from a PEER to a prospect - it really doesnt get better than that. And THEN by listening only you can walk into a proper business meeting and pitch what needs to be pitch for that particular prospect vs a blanket pitch and trying to narrow the focus as you go.
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  • Profile picture of the author Laurice
    There's a quote by Dale Carnegie that ties in perfectly with networking. "You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." That quote has been pivotal in the way that I approach networking.

    Hope it helps a bit!
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    If you are going to an event to prospect.....

    Just engage in normal conversation...and ask "What do you do?" After they tell you, they will normally ask "And what do you do?"

    And thn you give them your one sentence clear description of what you do. Mine is usually "I provide qualified leads and sales to business owners that already have a website".

    Make it clear, quick, and concise. They will do one of two things...
    1) Ask you a question about your business. or
    2) Change the subject.

    If they ask a question, have an answer ready..again, short, concise, and about benefits.

    If they ask me "How do you do that?" (a common question), I say "I make your business very easy to find, and your competitor's business harder to find".

    And again, they will either ask another question, or change the subject. If they ever change the subject, stop pitching. Be nice. Then move on.

    At about the third question, I ask them about their business, to make sure they are a match, and then ask if they think this might apply to them.

    It's better if they approach you, but if they are alone, I sometimes approach them.

    If you are at an event with 100 people...the odds are very good that at least one of them are already thinking about what you sell. You just need to find them. This is a selection process.

    If they indicate that they would be interested later (not now) contact them later. But I'm really just looking for the low hanging fruit. There is plenty of low hanging fruit...and ripe for the picking.

    I'm a mercenary soul. I'm just looking for the sales. If you gather lots of cards, and keep in touch, eventually you'll get better results from the same group.

    It's also better if you're at an event that they had to pay to get in. The more they paid, the better.

    I know two highly successful guys that prospect this way a few times a year, and do nothing else except go to expensive ($1,000-3,000) events and work the hallways on breaks.

    Another key is to have a very short "elevator talk", like the one I talked about above. Nothing flowery, long, or complicated. My retail vacuum cleaner talk is (when they ask what I do) "I sell $899 vacuum cleaners for $399".. and that's it. And yes, I've sold plenty of vacuum cleaners because of that short sentence. But say it as a matter of fact, like you are talking about the weather. Don't try to act enthusiastic or "salesy".

    I devoted about a third of my book on sales prospecting to this very subject. It's a great way to prospect for highly qualified clients, without pestering anyone.

    Added later: Savidge4 had some great advice on how to get people at events to refer others to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jennifer Isola
    When you network make sure you are giving valuable information to your new friends and of course make a wonderful connection Dont just network to get sales out of the people but to build relationships,.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Jennifer Isola View Post

      When you network make sure you are giving valuable information to your new friends and of course make a wonderful connection Dont just network to get sales out of the people but to build relationships,.
      I want to address that.

      I get the idea, and the philosophy. Build relationships that sometimes will turn into a business relationship. Of course it works, is less stressful than actually selling, and appeals to the vast majority of people.

      Me? I'm uncomfortable building relationships, hoping to eventually do business with them.

      I'm a businessman, a salesman. Of course, I'm polite and act in a friendly manner...but I'm very up front about the fact that I'm talking to them about doing business.

      My experience is that very few business owners are looking for a relationship. They may be looking for what I sell, but the relationship is secondary.

      If I like them, it's completely independent of any business relationship.
      I start with a sale. That's the beginning of the relationship. After that, I'll do favors and give freebies...because I want to, not because I'm hoping for business.

      My two best friends were originally customers, and the relationship grew later. Many of my favorite people bought from me first, and then we found that we had things in common. And sometimes they didn't buy, and we still became friends.

      Now, if you are strictly talking about online marketing (not personal selling), where giving free information is automatic and takes no effort or time on your part...why not?

      I have a local retail store. I have plenty of articles/videos/listings online...and will take phone calls and answer questions before asking for a sale (or deciding that I won't ask).

      And most of this is effortless, except for the phone calls which are nearly always short. And that's all part of a marketing funnel.

      So, if you are talking about a marketing funnel, I get it. But going to events..networking...keeping in touch...so that maybe...eventually...you'll fall into a sale?

      For me, it's faster to just qualify a little, make an appointment, and make a presentation. And at these events, the presentations are done there (at least for me). So I leave the event with no leads...but always a few sales.

      What amazes me is that I went to maybe 50 high priced events, before it dawned on me that you could actually make sales there, rather than take cards, and keep in touch later. In fact, I was sharing a room with a consultant that asked me "How many clients did you get this trip?" I had no idea what he was talking about. And then he told me how he networked, and made presentations at the event...he left with clients, not leads. Then I met a few other people that did the same thing.

      Of course, in a short networking event of a few hours, you have to make the presentations after the event. But you can qualify them at the event, and make the appointment.

      Anyway, that's what I do....not that anyone asked.
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    • Profile picture of the author eccj
      Originally Posted by Jennifer Isola View Post

      When you network make sure you are giving valuable information to your new friends and of course make a wonderful connection Dont just network to get sales out of the people but to build relationships,.
      Just reading your post makes me tired.

      I know people do things this way and are successful and to them I say "good for you."
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Jeff,

    I see alot about giving value first, does this involve free labor?

    Yep. Help folks for free. Make friends. Friends:

    - promote you
    - endorse you
    - hire you

    Your business grows exponentially, because 1000 is better than 1. 1000 friends' efforts beats your effort, every time. But helping folks freely and generously is step 1.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      Hi Jeff,

      I see alot about giving value first, does this involve free labor?

      Yep. Help folks for free. Make friends. Friends:

      - promote you
      - endorse you
      - hire you

      Your business grows exponentially, because 1000 is better than 1. 1000 friends' efforts beats your effort, every time. But helping folks freely and generously is step 1.

      Do you know who else promotes you, endorses you, and hires you?

      Customers.

      How the hell can anyone refer you with any credibility if they didn't buy from you?

      You want customers that brag to their friends about how great your service is.....buyers refer buyers.

      You don't want them bragging about the freebies they got from you.

      Do you know what I call this kind of "doing freebies until someone buys?

      Begging.


      You talk about "FEAR" in just about every post. Do you know why "business people" court business by doing free services...hoping for someone to take the initiative to buy from you?

      They are afraid to just ask someone to buy. Hoping non-buyers will refer others to you is a slow road to nothing. Who will they refer to you? Other people who don't buy, and expect freebies from you.

      Real business people are busy making sales. Weak people are busy making friends...because it saves them from the crushing torture of someone actually saying "No" to them.

      Added later; Of course, if you are selling online, none of this applies. You have a marketing funnel, create content, have multiple ports of entry...and some will buy. But face to face? A business relationship begins with a sale.
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      • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        A business relationship begins with a sale.
        And sales lead to referrals. Most business owners know that if they are getting something for free, that it's usually worth absolutely nothing.

        As I've posted previously, I'll generally do something for free after a few paid jobs, without the client knowing beforehand. When I present it, it comes with an invoice marked "Professional Courtesy." It will show the amount of the service provided and it will be marked, "Paid in Full."

        That way you demonstrate a perceived value and that there's something that's actually worth being appreciative of.

        You want to work for free. Go to an animal shelter or a soup kitchen.

        Remember, too, that the only way some people can obtain friends is by working for them for free. lol
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        A business relationship begins with a sale.
        I get the context of the post.. and it is 100% correct. BUT, I am a relationship builder face to face. You can very easily look atmy sales tactics based on proximity.. can I get into talk to them... or are they to far away. To far away.. I sell straight up... but if I can get into see them... I wont sell them the 1st 2nd or 3rd time.. UNLESS the cues are there to do otherwise.

        Should someone starting out be doing this.. HELL NO.. why does it work for me? because I have a pretty solid client base in close proximity.. if I go in and meet someone, say hey how you doing.. hows busiiness blah blah blah.. leave a business card and jet.. that person is going to start inquiring... this turns the points of contact into a platform or base for a referal to occur.. so Im not selling my service, my services to others is.

        Over time.. my contact to sales rate is rediculose high.. the last I looked, its in the 70% range over the last 10 years ( yes I am that much of a geek I keep track of this crap ) So.. relationship building DOES work, BUT only when there is a base for it to work with.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

          I get the context of the post.. and it is 100% correct. BUT, I am a relationship builder face to face. You can very easily look atmy sales tactics based on proximity.. can I get into talk to them... or are they to far away. To far away.. I sell straight up... but if I can get into see them... I wont sell them the 1st 2nd or 3rd time.. UNLESS the cues are there to do otherwise.

          Should someone starting out be doing this.. HELL NO.. why does it work for me? because I have a pretty solid client base in close proximity.. if I go in and meet someone, say hey how you doing.. hows busiiness blah blah blah.. leave a business card and jet.. that person is going to start inquiring... this turns the points of contact into a platform or base for a referal to occur.. so Im not selling my service, my services to others is.

          Over time.. my contact to sales rate is rediculose high.. the last I looked, its in the 70% range over the last 10 years ( yes I am that much of a geek I keep track of this crap ) So.. relationship building DOES work, BUT only when there is a base for it to work with.
          First, we can have two different approaches, and both can be valid and great ideas.


          When I am prospecting,I'm looking for an immediate sale (meaning before we go our separate ways. It may take a day or two).

          To clarify a little, I don't push at all. I don't pressure or make people feel uneasy. If the sale isn't easily made, I just move on. Like you said, the cues have to be there, or I don't pursue it.

          What other successful people do is get the immediate sale if warranted, but also build a relationship, to get a larger number of sales as a natural part of that relationship.

          That's really the smarter method, and more what you do. The difference is, I don't try to get the "later" sales.

          It's hard to say this, but I'm not a "relationship" type of person. So the failing is mine.

          The reason I post about this is that most people looking for business won't ever try to make a sale....it's just socially unacceptable to them. So they perform services for free in the hopes that someone will force the issue out of obligation. And that works very very seldom.

          By the way, at a typical 3 day marketing event, I used to talk to maybe 100 people...short conversations about them. Out of that, I may get 4 people that give a strong indication that they will buy from me. And 3 or 4 of those 4 do, at the event.

          But really....15 other people would be open to a conversation...and mutual exchange of information..and eventually maybe 80% of them would do business with me. I just don't pursue them at all. Again, a failing.
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          • Profile picture of the author savidge4
            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

            It's hard to say this, but I'm not a "relationship" type of person. So the failing is mine.
            What I find interesting... I sell services generally with trip wires.. or I sell base line services that can be added onto. My selling cycle is multifaceted and long term. I sell a web site, I sell SEO I sell content I sell Facebook ads I sell Mailers, I sell twitter ads, I sell this I sell that.. one on top of the other. For ME, and my style of selling relationships are key.

            The flip side of this.. or I hate to say it this way.. YOU.. you sell vaccums with a 7 year buyer cycle. You sell local advertising that is more or less a one off deal. And YOUR DAMN SUCCESSFUL at it.

            My wife and I sell a kick ton of crap on ebay.. its one off as well.. we are trying some things that would be more repeat in nature, but the markets in many of these things are rather tight - so we shall see how it plays out.

            But back to the topic... What seperates pure selling, vs building a relationship is the selling cycle.. the life of customer, and what it is exactly you are selling. Some things you just go out and sell.. no hi, no how are you, no my name is Paul.. HEY do you want to buy this... and that in itself is an art form... door to door sales a CLASSIC example of this - and that is specifically what you have done most of your career. I bet there are days in that shop that just kill you waiting for someone to come in, and you could be out door to door making a sale happen.

            Which brings us around to what you are saying.. most would just sit there and wait for a person to come in the door.. Most would just talk and talk and talk and never even hint at selling. I would saythey are scared of the rejection.. I personally love rejection. for me its never personal.. often times its down right funny.. "I dont need more business" I chuckle every time I hear it.

            I was recently on a sales call not to long ago, and it was going NO WHERE like NO WHERE.. I finally asked the guy if I could offer him a glass of water.. he said "NO" first, and THEN got that puzzled look on his face ( we were in his office ). At that point he laughed and the conversion got real, I didnt sell him, but over time I will.. LOL I have percentages on my side.

            And you are right.. there is no right and wrong.. other than not asking for the sale - thats just wrong. Thinking that being nice and giving giving giving isnt always right either. I believe in giving once.. getting results and then going in and selling the snot out of em! LOL
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            • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
              Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

              I personally love rejection. for me its never personal.. often times its down right funny.. "I dont need more business" I chuckle every time I hear it.
              Same, here. Whenever I hear, "I don't need more business," I think to myself, "I wouldn't worry about it. I doubt you'll be getting any."

              Cheers.
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              "He not busy being born, is busy dying." - Bob Dylan • "I vibe with the light-dark point. Heavy." - Words that Bob Dylan wishes he had written.

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