At a recent networking breakfast, I was walking around the room and spotted a woman who was standing alone. I introduced myself and asked what she did or what services did she offer. When she answered my antenna popped up, as here was a potential solution for a service I’ve been looking for.
I wanted a bit more details to see if she was a good fit to follow up with, so I asked what she specialized in. The answer “I do everything, from X to Y.” I tried again and asked if she specialized in anything specifically. Her answer “no”.
Knowing that not everyone is a strong networker, I tried a different tactic. I shared that I had been looking for someone who provided her services and shared my personal story of why. Her answer “Oh, I know about that, I’ve been dealing with it and I’ve been dealing with “X” and “Y”…” she then added “I’m actually only doing this as a way of supporting my true passion, I’m really an “X”, but this helps me pay the bills.”
Unfortunately’, that was the end of the conversation and a lost lead for her business.
Can you spot the 3 places where she lost my potential business? Have you ever fallen into any of them?
- “I do everything from X to Y” – Why wasn’t that a good answer? Realistically, no one can do everything well. She might do everything from X to Y but why tell me that? What could have she said instead? She needs to change her answer to a customer result based answer. For example, “I make sure my customers X” is so clean and crisp that it attracts potential customers and closes sales faster. Another option is, “I do the detail work freeing up my clients time to focus on the important part of their business.”
The better she knows her market/niche the better her answer is going to be. For example “I work with solo-entrepreneurs to create ‘X’ that quickly attracts clients’ attention.” There are so many answers she could have provided instead of “I do everything from X to Y” by focusing her potential customers needs, instead of what she actually does.
- “Oh I know all about that…” – The start was alright, identifying my issue and needs, but she should have stopped there and stopped talking about herself. She could have asked me specifically about what I needed, what my issue was costing me or anything that could have helped her learn more about my issues and needs. Instead she continued on to tell me things that had nothing to do with my needs and the potential opportunity that was standing in front of her. A much better answer would have been, “Oh, I’ve got experience with that because… How might I be able to help you?” or “Oh, I’ve got experience with that because… How does this affect your business?”
- “I’m actually only doing this…” – NEVER share with someone that what you offer isn’t your real passion and then go on to tell them about what that is. I was interested in the service that she was offering not something else. One of the most confusing things you can do in a networking situation is to say I do one thing, but I also do something else that is unrelated, unless it enhances your credentials. For example: “I do graphic design work specifically for trade businesses to get them noticed and remembered. My expertise comes from my love of painting” versus “I do graphic design work specifically for trade businesses, so that I can support my real passion which is painting.” Which is a more attractive statement if you are looking for a graphic designer?
My point in sharing this story is when you are networking, be it a formal or informal event, be careful about what you say and what you share with people. Particularly women, we tend to like to share our ‘story’ to be able to connect with the other person, but people aren’t investing in networking meeting to learn your complete “story”, they’re investing to create connections and opportunities.
As an aside, my goal at networking events is to leave with 1 to 3 good connections with people that I want to follow up with. They could be potential clients, suppliers or partners; it doesn’t matter specifically as I’m looking for possibilities not sales.
A great resource for network tips and strategies is Michael J. Hughes, The Networking Guru at www.networkingforresults.com. He always provides great advice and tips and can help anyone improve their networking skills even the seasoned networker. Michael offers a great network guide at www.FreeChamberSuccessGuide.com
P.S.: Want help to maximize the fall networking cycle? Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “fall and from Heather” in the subject line. Michael’s team will send you the link to download a complimentary copy of his ‘Maximizing Fall Networking” MP3 audio program
I love to see entrepreneurs follow their passions, serve more people and create the lifestyle of their dreams.