Taking (most of) the ‘work’ out of Networking
Part 8: Having that meeting.NRG Business Networks
It may be time for a quick recap.
- You’ve decided that it makes sense to include networking as a major element in your marketing mix.
- You’re keen to take it seriously and to prepare yourself for the task at hand.
- You’re clear as to what you want to achieve from your networking, and have prepared a scintillating answer to the question, “What do you do?”
- Your business cards are concise as to what you do, carry all pertinent information and can be read without a magnifying glass.
- You’ve planned ahead as to the networking events you’re going to attend, found out who’s going to attend and done your homework.
- You’ve turned up, met the people you wanted to, been fascinated by their conversation and collected their cards, with a promise to ring them in the next day or two,
- You’ve gone straight back to the office and made copious notes about all the people you’ve met, to refer back to in the future.
- And you’ve made that follow up phone call and arranged a meeting.
Splendid. Well that’s it then. Job’s done. You’ve got that friendly meeting set up with the chap whose secretary originally told you wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested in what you have to say. Excellent!
But there’s so much more to it than this. You see, you may well have had the person you’re about to meet as a target, and it’s quite possible that you may end up doing some business together, but wouldn’t you rather do some business, and then do some more? Whoever you’re about to meet may know something about you and what you do, but if you were networking as you should have been, doing lots of listening and not a lot of talking, then the odds are that it’s you personally that has made a favourable impression, not what you do.
Which is just as it should be, because, well, aren’t we told at every NRG lunch that networking is a relational business, and that we do business with people we know, like and trust. It may seem painfully obvious, and forgive me if it is, but on the one hand treat your first meeting informally, and on the other, make sure you have an agenda.
Why am I labouring this?
Let me tell you. On average I try and have at least one meeting, or 121 to use the jargon, per week. Often they’re with folk who really aren’t used to the idea of being asked for such a meeting, and the immediate presumption has often been that I’ve suggested the meeting because I either want to buy from them or sell to them.
An extreme case was with a top end kitchen supplier I met and suggested a 121 to. He in turn suggested we meet at my home in Warminster ‘because he was in the area.’ He arrived, took one look at my existing kitchen (still existing kitchen, in case any reader wants a local show home..) and started to try and sell me one of his bespoke kitchens. When I told him that nothing was further from my mind than buying a new kitchen he was like a rabbit in headlights.
So why else had I suggested the meeting? It took some time to explain that it was simply a social to see how we could help each other in business. And that’s what the first meeting should be, a social to see whether the initial sense of compatibility is still there, to see whether there’s a chance of working together and to start the process of relationship that could, eventually, lead to business.
More on this next time.