I have been in direct sales for the last few years and have used networking to pipeline and my income.
In that time, I’ve made a few mistakes – and seen plenty of mistakes too. So, let me share with you my seven ways to get business networking really wrong – so you can avoid making the mistakes I did.
1. Not being interested in them:
When you approach other networkers, show genuine interest in them and what they do before even mentioning what you do. This way you will build rapport and connection. Without connection, they will quite simply never buy from you or refer you. It takes time – but the payoff makes it worthwhile.
2. Not practising your pitch:
We’ve all listened to a boring, mumbling pitch that goes on and on and never actually gets to the point or explains what someone does!
Work on a snappy pitch that describes what you do and what you offer, in 10 words or less. Add a personal, relatable story about how what you do has made a difference for someone, and what you are looking for from your networking colleagues. Your aim is to grab their interest and for them to know who they can refer to you.
3. Sharing your woes:
No one wants to hear that your business is struggling – and no one wants to buy from a struggling business.
However, it’s good to share your vulnerability, the lessons you’ve learned along the way, and ask for advice, as these will help you become relatable and build connection.
4. Underselling yourself:
Unfortunately, lots of people will try and get you to discount or give away your product/service for free. Counter this by researching the market rate, knowing your value and what added value you bring, and respecting yourself. Stick to your guns regarding price, and they will appreciate you. If they don’t, move on and find someone who does – don’t compromise on your worth.
5. Not following up:
Connections are made at the networking meeting, relationships are built outside of it. Get their permission to go on your mailing list, invite them to connect on LinkedIn. These are all ways for them to remember you for when they are ready to buy your product/service or refer you. Remember, “the fortune’s in the follow up.”
6. Being pushy:
There’s a fine line between passion and pushiness. Listen to others, be polite, friendly, approachable, and do share your passion because people will buy into that. Avoid being evangelical and desperate as this definitely turn people off. Remember, your product/service isn’t going to be for everyone and that’s ok.
7. Giving average service:
What differentiates you from everyone else out there? What’s your unique selling point (USP)? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Alongside building relationships, you need to go above and beyond with your customer service anddeliver real value. This will make you memorable. And don’t be afraid to ask them for a testimonial for your website and at the next networking meeting!
In summary, remember: be authentic; relationships first, business second; and go above and beyond.