In the world of business, it’s not what you know, but whom you know. If you don’t know something, you want to know someone or know someone who knows someone who knows something! That’s the value of networking.
But rather than approaching your next networking event as an opportunity to add to your list of prospects and resources, I am going to challenge you to take a different approach. Instead, approach people with the purpose of making a referral to them. The following three questions will help you learn how you can best serve your new acquaintance.
What solutions does your business provide? This is a twist to the typical “What do you do?” or “What does your business do?” The typical question phrasing elicits responses like “We manufacture widgets.” Then, if you aren’t familiar with widgets, or don’t know much about them, you are either forced to show your ignorance and ask “What problems do widgets solve?” or change the subject. By leading with the question “What solutions does your business provide” you are leading the conversation to how this business adds value to the world.
Who is your ideal client? This question will help you learn what types of people would make good clients for your colleague. Also ask who makes a poor client.
What cues do you listen for in conversations that tell you someone is a good prospect? This will help jog your memory as you are conversing with others and help you connect colleagues to each other. It also helps you relate the solutions provided to everyday life. Cues for a professional organizer might be "I cannot keep up with all the papers my kids bring home from school." Banking cues might be "I can't believe how much I just paid to get money out of an ATM." Cues for a marketing agency are "I'm not getting any traffic to my web site." (Hint, hint!)
This technique is more of a servant approach to networking than a sales approach. Nine times out of ten, though, your new colleague will in turn ask the same questions of you, allowing you to educate them about the best way to make referrals to you. Make sure you have clear concise answers to give them so you don’t waste this opportunity! Once you refer a good client to them, they’ll want to return the favor to you.
For assistance in defining your target market and telling your story in a networking setting, call Rethink Marketing today.