Prospecting at Networking Events

Why Should You Attend Networking Events?

You’re about to learn one of the most powerful ways of finding prospects.
But first, let’s define networking.

This is not NETWORK marketing, which is the business you’ve chosen to be in.
NetWORKING is meeting people face-to-face, or belly-to-belly as they call it, at any function, meeting or event.
Some meetings are specifically designed for networking, but any meeting can be used this way.

The goal is to meet people with the purpose to develop referral relationships with a variety of people who may have valuable contacts in different circles.
In its purest form, Networking is all about fact finding and developing your business.
It is NOT about selling, socializing or hanging out with friends or associates.

There are two types of Networking: one is where you go to a luncheon, dinner or equivalent and during the meeting each person stands up and gives a brief description about who they are and what their business is.  You should take notes as you will be able to isolate those people that might be aligned with your type of business and others that you will want to meet with the purpose of getting to know them so you can schedule a meeting.

These networking events are designed for each attendee to introduce themselves and the company they represent. Most meetings give you 30-60 seconds to say something memorable about you and your business. This is your chance to stand out in the crowd. I have attended countless meetings where a person stands up says their name and then some boring statement about themselves or their company. Here’s an example: My name is Terri Recknor and I am representing XYZ company, we sell weight loss products. Nothing memorable there, just another person selling weigh loss products.

You want to give people a reason to remember you, to come up to you afterwards and want to know more. Here’s an example: My name is Terri Recknor and I’m here today to give all you ladies your sexy back. And for you men in the audience your wives or significiant others are going to Thank me when I’m done with you!
I didn’t mention weight loss products at all, did I? But I did peak their interest and you can bet more than one of those people will ask me what I sell.

The second type of Networking is more of an event that is sponsored by some club, organization, group and the gathering is less formal and more of mingling with the people.

In practice, the key is to move quickly, meeting people and asking a few strategic questions to determine someone’s sphere of influence and network of contacts.

You primarily want to find out 4 things:
1.  what their company does,
2. their role or position in the company,
3. their target market or who their ideal customer is
4. how long they’ve been there.

You find out what their company does so that you can assess any synergy between what you both do.
You find out their role or position to make sure you are talking to the right person.
If you’re wanting to talk to someone else in their company, ask them for the contact.

You find out who their ideal customer is so you can identify any common ground between who you’re both targeting.
And you find out how long they’ve been there to give you an indication of that person’s stability and longevity in the business. If it’s a short time period, you may want to follow up with additional questions.

Memorize these 4 questions so you can focus on acquiring the answers instead of searching for the questions.
When you meet people who seem like promising candidates, get their contact info. (Business card)
Make any important notes and if qualified, let them know you’d like to follow up.

What do you say or do if they ask you: “What do you do?” Be prepared by having a short business description memorized.  Don’t be long winded.   It is best that you have thought this out very carefully as it will either have a lasting affect or not pique their interest.  Be different with your response. Rather than tell them who you are and what you do, say something that will capture their interest and make you memorable. Remember the example above.

If your talking to a woman say: I’m looking for a few gals that want to get their bodies swimsuit ready? Do you know anyone like that?
If your talking to a man say: I’m looking for a few guys that want that want to Wow their significant others…Do you know anyone like that?
Trust me when I tell you their answer won’t be NO.

Then on to the next.
You want to speak with as many people as possible in the time period available.
But never, ever try to pitch or sell anything at a networking event.
Instead, focus on building new relationships.
There will be plenty of time for selling later.
Remember, it’s about meeting, discovering and building rapport with new people.
When done properly, you can have a really enjoyable time doing it.

Here are some mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1
You misunderstand the purpose of networking.
Your primary purpose is and should always be to build relationships.
You are not there to sell.
You are not walking in to one of these events armed with Flyers and business material to pass out to everyone you meet.
You have a false expectation if you believe these people will be so excited to meet you and instantly join your business.

Here’s a Tip: If you have a chance to see a roster of who will be in attendance prior to the event, review each person’s information and determine who you want to meet.

Although you want to meet as many people as possible, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to zero in on a few key attendees who you’ve identified.

That one person you meet could make all the difference to your business.

Remember, you’re building your business one person at a time.

Mistake #2
Socializing with people you already know.
I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we all have done it.
You stick to your comfort zone which is right beside the people that you know.

You are not attending these networking events to hang out with friends but rather to meet people that you don’t know in order to form new and mutually beneficial relationships.

Mistake #3
Talking too much about Yourself.
People love talking about themselves, not listening to you talk about yourself.
They will find you much more engaging if you really listen to what they have to say.
Refer to our blog on Listening Skills.

The last thing people really want to hear when they first meet you is your life story or how your company, products and service is the best thing on the planet and how it will change their lives.

If someone asks you about your company and what you do, be brief.  You should have a short business description already memorized and practiced with a friend or someone in your organization with the purpose of listening to it and critiquing  it so it is concise and impactful.

Do not go into a long dissertation; give them a short, sweet explanation.

Then, turn the conversation back to them.
Get the other person to talk about themselves.
Focus on them and what is important to them and not you.
Make sure you get the answers to the 4 key questions.

Mistake # 4
We don’t describe what we do in a way that is meaningful to others.
When asked: What do you do for a living?
Most people answer with job title such as: Realtor, Sales, Mortgage broker, etc. How boring is that?

If you want people to remember you and what you do, you have to describe it in a way that paints a vivid picture in their mind.

Remember, chances are there is someone else in the room who does exactly what you do.
How do you stand out from the rest of the crowd without setting yourself on fire?
The key is to describe what you do in an informative way that paints a vivid picture in the listener’s mind.

Focus on the results that your product or service provides, not so much the features.
And make sure to follow up with a question, like: “do you or anyone you know need this?”

Once you have your short business description memorized, ask a friend or someone in your organization to listen to it and critique it. You want to make sure that the message you are delivering has as much impact on someone else as it does for you.

Mistake #5
You don’t meet the host of the Networking Event.
Sometimes at events we get so caught up in what is going on that we forget to meet the host or key people who are there. Always make it a priority to meet the key, influential people at every event you attend.

To do this, get there early.
Introduce yourself and offer to help them in any way possible.
Make a friend, show them value, and in turn they will introduce you to their friends.

If there is anyone in particular that you want to meet, ask them for an introduction.
Remember that short business description your memorized, here is where it comes into play.

You want to make sure that the message you are delivering has as much impact on someone else as it does for you.

My mission is to talk to as many people as I can and to collect THEIR business cards.
While talking to them I remember key things they said and when I walk away, I jot them on the back of their cards.

Sort of like a memory jogger to myself so I remember exactly who they were.
It’s very possible that you will talk to more people than you can remember so it’s best to make notes.

Do you know that most people attend these types of events and never follow up?
That’s why I don’t expect to hear back from anyone I give my cards to.
But those who give me their cards will hear back from me right away.
I make it a habit to send a quick email when I get home.
I let the person know that it was a pleasure meeting them and I always mention something that they told me about themselves.

People will never forget you if you make them feel special.

If it seems likely that we may have an opportunity to develop some business together, I also let them know that I will give them a follow up call in the next day or two to schedule a meeting over coffee. When you call them to schedule a meeting, bring up something again that they shared with you at the event. They will be more inclined to meet with you if they believe you sincerely are interested in them and what they have to say.

The purpose of this call is to schedule a meeting NOT to pitch your business or to sell anything to them.
This is another form of rapport building with your Prospect. It can be especially fruitful if you can refer someone who might be interested in their products or services.

Networking enables you to build relationships and through these contacts improving your net worth.

Where to find Networking Events:
1. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce
2. Look in your local paper, the business section or events section
3. Google networking events in your area
4. Check out local groups on Facebook


Leave a Comment: