Wednesday, 3 April 2013

5 stages of Networking at Networking events

Winner of the Business Card draw
Larry Adeyaemi
from EN Start-Ups being presented with his prize from

Nina Tukaj  at the March networking morning
 at Business Biscotti

 Networking and Schmoozing are not every body's 'cup of tea or coffee.'

"I have the social skills of a crushed hedgehog and the  soi-disante* literary types - on the whole- leave me more frigid than a warlock's tit.
I'd sooner have buttocks sawn off , varnished and sold as matching salad bowls in a provincial gift shop than attend any metropolitan literary salon."
So said  author Will Self in an interview to the  London Metro Nov 23rd  in My London - Will Self .
 ( *soi-disante = self proclaimed -I confess I had to look it up !!)

Although we may not have Will Self's vocabulary, I guess some sales people can be put off by business networking meetings in much the same way. Well Mr Self probably has an agent who does the schmoozing work for him .

We don't all have that luxury, so it is another skill that a salesperson has to develop.

As conventional cold calling and even the number of face to face meetings have decreased the number of networking clubs has exploded.

‘Networking’ simply means publicising yourself and your business by personal communication with as wide a selection of individuals as possible.  The more people you talk to about what you offer, the more business you are likely to pick up through referrals and contacts.
A typical structure of a network conversation  typically goes through 5 stages

1. Open     - begin the conversation and introduce yourself

2. Qualify     - quickly establish  what the business potential is (direct or by referral); ask questions and listen carefully; spend minimum time talking about yourself and your company but give enough information to test interest if you are unsure.

3. Position     -if there is business potential then 'briefly nutshell sell' the benefits your company can offer to customers in general and/or that person in particular.
   Nutshell sell
4. Close            -obtain all the necessary information to enable follow-up (usually just a business card is enough); make sure they have your information; then politely move on.

5. Follow-up     -information and initial relationships are only valuable if you do something with them; your most effective follow-up is usually by telephone and /  email/ maybe a Linked In invite; follow-up quickly so that they can still remember you, but most experienced networkers believe that you should leave a gap of one or two days so as not to seem too ‘pushy’.
There's a lot to find out and remember and all to be done in a soft sell conversational manner. Learning to converse charmingly ( rather than smarmingly) is a craft worth practising.

Related Links
Handshakes and exchanging business cards

Networking to generate business
Gulls eggs City Luncheon Charity Networking

Bruce King's blog piece  for IOD on Business Card Design

Business Biscotti

Nina Tukaj  welcoming members
 at Gloucester Road Casino for Business Biscotti meeting
Donations collected for the Marie Curie Charity

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