One of the easiest ways to grow your business is to “network”, but it’s not uncommon for the mere thought of it to make people squirm for fear of being “sold to”.
You might be relieved to know that you can raise awareness of the service or product you offer, have interesting conversations and still be seen as friendly and approachable!
In this blog, we’re going to explore seven ways you can build and nurture relationships with people and get great results without being pushy or salesy.
Don’t put on a show. Dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. I go to meetings in jeans and a nice shirt, even though most people expect financial advisers to be dressed in a suit! Dressing in a way that makes me feel good helps break down those initial barriers.
Prepare an elevator pitch.
Some networking groups have a formal structure that requires you to deliver a one-minute presentation, but even if yours doesn’t, rehearsing a few succinct sentences that clearly outline what you do saves you the embarrassment of having to think on the spot. I tend to say “By day I’m a semi-retired financial adviser working towards helping people make work optional; by night I am a podcaster, author, blogger, Harley rider, and husband to an understanding wife.”
An elevator pitch gives a flavour of what you do, enables you to build rapport, lets people know you have something of value to offer and builds intrigue while creating an opportunity for further conversation.
If I listed everything that I do (podcaster, author, cash flow modelling, wills and trusts, lifestyle financial planning, wealth management etc), people would likely run a mile!
Check out my earlier blog Why Making Work Optional Is Worth It (And Closer Than You Think) if you’d like to live more and work less!
If you’re not a natural conversationalist, or a little on the introverted side like me, busy rooms full of noisy chatter can feel a bit unsettling. As tempting as it might be to move towards a corner or the outside edge of the room, they give you less opportunity to converse. When you stand in the middle of the room, you have options to network on all sides, which takes the pressure off the conversation you’re in.
Be interested in helping other people.
Ditch the idea that the sole intention of networking is to sell; when you show genuine interest in other people, you’ll instantly become more approachable and easier to talk to. Ask them what they do, what type of clients they are looking for and how you can help them. You’ll be amazed at some of the referrals that can come from informal conversations.
Also, when someone has dropped their “professional guard” and opens up because you’re being a human being instead of a sales machine, you’re more likely to get to know who they are as an individual rather than the business they represent. People like to do business with people, which is one of the reasons there’s a shift away from B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer); there’s a recognition that everything is P2P, as in person to person.
For example, I know a lady whose brother owns a number of properties and helps people create their own property portfolios. She introduced the two of us, and we had a chat about how my business could source mortgages for his clients and I could refer prospective clients looking to invest in property to him. It’s of mutual benefit.
The most important thing we need to know is that we like and trust each other to deliver a professional service (an introduction almost always helps pre-qualify this!) and that we can see a win-win-win opportunity that serves our clients as well as both of us.
Always exchange details.
Even if you think you heard the person’s name correctly or are certain you know their website address, always exchange details or use a QR code for LinkedIn etc. It’s embarrassing to try to contact someone and find that there are ten similar names on LinkedIn and you don’t know which account to message.
It’s courteous to touch base with people with whom you felt a genuine connection or where you can envision a collaborative future. If you offer to share a resource or introduce your new connection to a potential client (with their permission) then do it within 48 hours.
As well as being professional, one of the basic laws of social psychology states that we tend to pay back what we received from others (or more). It’s one of the reasons we’re offered samples of cheese, perfume, aftershave, moisturiser and so on: even though the samples are miniscule, they trigger an innate response to give or buy something in return.
Nurture your existing network!
There’s so much emphasis on networking that we often overlook the people we already know! I worked with a client recently who was busy trying to make new business connections. He revealed that he already had 864 contacts in his phone and estimated that 70 per cent of them would be interested in his service.
The service he provided was sold at £600 per person, which would mean he had the potential to tap into a pot worth £362,880; his goal for this year was to earn £100,000! He didn’t need to go and find new clients; they were right there in front of him!
So, how do you feel about networking when you think of it as being more about building and nurturing relationships by being chatty and helpful? It certainly beats backing away from a pushy salesperson. You might also enjoy my earlier blog Why Selling Might Be Seen As A Dirty Word (And What To Do About It).
I’d love to hear your thoughts; send me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you’ve got a big juicy business or financial goal, tell me about that, too! If you would like me to reframe your goals so that they make sense to your subconscious mind, book a call here (I will start charging for this service soon!).