In the early days of business networking you will be concentrating on meeting people, making new connections, making a good impression and having a clear, engaging message. All these things help to build a positive professional perception of you as a professional and someone who could be introduced with confidence but how do you switch it up a gear?
In the early days of business networking you will be concentrating on meeting people, making new connections, making a good impression and having a clear, engaging message.
All these things help to build a positive professional perception of you as a professional and someone who could be introduced with confidence but how do you switch it up a gear? At first you will find there are people you feel there is a stronger business synergy and personal chemistry with. These are the ones that you can begin moving up to another level. You’re probably aware of growing confidence – a readiness and willingness to work together. It’s time to start exploring ways in which to be more proactive in making introductions, collaborating and creating opportunities through your business networking.
Initially confidence and credibility rely heavily on what we see and how we feel ie the way people behave at networking events. Being late, unprepared and flustered does not build confidence. Being unprepared in our presentations and unsure of facts does not create feelings of authenticity and reliability. After that we need to develop our business relationships till the levels of trust and confidence outweigh any concerns and the benefits from making the introductions repeatedly add value to relationships you have with your own clients. This is where professional business networkers excel and every handshake, the hours spent preparing and perfecting your 60 seconds and lots of coffee or if you’re lucky wine pay off. These relationships deliver time and time again, they’ll become more like friendship and there will be a strong reliance and desire to introduce each other often.
These meeting as often referred to as 1:1’s. We prefer to call them insight meetings as they should be focused on gaining greater insight about the person, the business, it’s values, how the product or service helps clients, who is a valuable prospective client and how to make an introduction. From your business networking to date you have hopefully realised that everyone is busy. It is therefore your responsibility to do everything possible to help others help you. Sharing as much information as possible is so important; it really is an education process.Do bear in mind though that the role of the introducer is simply to recommend you with confidence and enthusiasm not to close the deal. The introduced is the far better equipped to assess a potential client needs and demonstrate how they can satisfy them, hopefully resulting in business happening between the two parties.
What should you include in a relationship development meeting that will help you create opportunities.
- What results do you deliver to your clients?
- Think about the benefits you deliver, the pain you remove and the potentially unpleasant situations you prevent
- Why should we have confidence in you?
- What are you the expert in and how can you demonstrate that. Stories of what you have done are powerful.
- What differentiates you?
- What do you do differently and how? If I we can reply ‘so what’ then it’s not a compelling differentiation.
- Avoid saying things like “we provide exceptional customer service”. Firstly that should be a given and secondly everyone says that and it has little impact.Saying something like on average our members stay with 5 years or more and the norm in our industry is 3 will differentiate you.
- What does our ideal client look like?
- Talk about as much as possible to describe an ideal client. This is something you may have already done for your marketing and if not will be useful to you going forward.
- What would be a great opportunity for us
- Be very clear about what represents and opportunity. If you’re an estate agent it might be logical to think you want to be introduced to buyers. However if the market is awash with buyers and no houses to sell then this may end up not having any value and taking up your valuable time.
- Specifically, which professions/businesses/people do we want to talk to?
- Do your research hear so that you not only highlight an industry but go further to state an exact company the position within the company and the name of the person in that position.
- Questions you could ask to explore if your client has a need for our product or service.
- When done well these can be built into a fact find or conversation and should feel natural and comfortable to ask.
- How to introduce us
- Again this is not closing the deal it’s simply getting permission to make an introduction once interest has been achieved
There is a lot of information here that will take you time to put together and it may take more than one or two relationship development meetings to cover in depth.
At the end of the meeting agree on any actions with a clear idea of when you will take action. Always have at least 1 action but no more than 3.
As you get to the point you have covered this for both of you then include discussing clients and contacts, explore where opportunities may lie and how to progress them towards becoming introductions.
Follow up, stay in touch and invest well in these relationships as they really are worth their weight in gold.