Note: This is the second part of a 2-part article. Last week we focused on getting the most out of group networking meetings. This week we will focus on how to conduct effective 1:1 networking meetings.
Today, more than ever, it’s important to get the most out of your 1:1 networking meetings.
The purpose of 1:1 networking meetings is to get to know people in your industry and profession. And, meet others in different business communities. Without human interaction, building a data base of contacts will do you no good.
Meeting with people 1:1 can feel awkward when you are not prepared. Like any skill, you can learn how to conduct effective 1:1 networking meetings. All it takes is commitment and practice.
Keep in mind, your ultimate goal in 1:1 networking meetings is to conduct market research, not sell.
What should you leave the meeting with?
- -Name and contact information of the person you talked to
- -Information not posted about their company, industry and profession
- -Three top challenges and their proposed solutions
Remember, these meetings are not designed for you to sell your products and services. The opportunity to present and sell will come later if you’ve done a good job of learning about their business. And, have built a positive relationship with the person introducing you into their company.
5 Tips for Making the Most of Your 1:1 Networking Meetings
- Create an intention of what you want out of each meeting. This provides you with an incentive to attend and not cancel. The purpose is to get-to-know-the-person and their company, not sell them something.
- -Prepare your opening introduction (Review, It’s Time to Brag! Business Edition)
- -Listen more than talk
- -Prepare good open-ended business questions (review their LinkedIn, FB and company website)
- -Ask questions for clarification
- Put away your phone and other electronic distractions. Listening requires paying 100% attention to the person speaking. If you don’t, you’re telling others you don’t value them. A University of Michigan study showed that laptops (and phone apps) are also a distraction. Use paper and pen to jot down notes.
- Focus. The type of questions you ask will be different if you sell B2C or B2B. Ask open-ended questions. (Open-ended questions begin with who, what, when, where, why or how.) For example: What should I know about you and your business? What are the 3 biggest challenges at your company today? Why do you like working there? (Grab your copy of It’s Time to Brag, Business Edition! and review the Chapter on Networking Works.)
- Don’t be a chatterbox. You’re there to learn about them. Don’t share confidential information or names when it’s your turn to talk. While people love to listen to stories, make sure they are real and keep them short. Remember, people have short attention spans.
- Follow-Up and Follow-Through. This is where most people fail in their networking efforts. You will lose future sales if you don’t follow-up and follow-through. Do not send them to your website for answers … instead, talk with them. The key is to build a personal positive relationship every step along the way.
- -Send requested information within 24 to 48 hours (ask them what they prefer: text or email)
- -Call or email to ensure the person got the information within one or two days
- -Wait three days to call and ask if they have any questions
- -Stay in communication if they are not ready
Smart 1:1 networking skills are important and a great way to better understand a person’s or company’s needs. After you’ve establish a relationship, then, and only then, can you sell your products and services with each. Remember, people buy for their own reasons, not yours.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2018
Jeannette Seibly has been recognized as a catalyst and leadership expert for the past 26 years. As an executive coach and speaker, she provides straight talk with dynamic results. Networking can be frustrating and isn’t always an easy process. Like any skill, smart networking requires commitment and practice. To improve your results, grab your copy of “It’s Time to Brag! Business Edition.” Contact Jeannette for a preliminary confidential conversation.