Most networking events are an absolute waste of time and worse, they’re often boring. I’ve certainly never sold anything at a networking event and yet I keep going. Why is that?
Doing the business card shuffle
Roland has been going to business networking meetings at Chambers of Commerce and gallery openings and industry specific events and conferences and seminars and dinner parties and everything in between for the past 11 years. He networks with anyone from start ups and solo entrepreneurs, to owners of SME’s and everyone in between, some of my activities are really social networking, and he often refers to himself as a business networking trollop. As they say: “He will turn up at the opening of an envelope”. He can’t get enough of it, it seems, yet he doesn’t think he has have ever sold anything at any event I have ever attended.
Why ever would he do such a thing?
“Oh spare me, I’ve been to so many networking events and nothing ever comes of it. There is nothing more boring I can think of doing … watching paint dry is more fun… no one’s ever bought anything from me, networking, chamber of commerce gatherings, you name it, they’re all an enormous waste of time.”
Fair enough, I hear you, they usually are… That’s to say, if you go to a networking event with the aim of selling stuff, they will just about always be a complete waste of your time.
Geoff Hirsh, CEO of BBG said at the last BBG briefing : “Hands up if you go to a network event to sell something?” and most people raised their hand. Then he asked: “Hands up everyone who goes to a network event to buy something?” This time no one raised their hand, demonstrating once and for all that going networking to sell stuff is a waste of time – because no-one is there to buy!!!!
Having said that – Networking events are an amazing way to have that initial contact, and invite them to be your guest at a bbg forum! (You are going there to sell as well!!)
So why does my business group work for me and for most of the members of the group? The difference is a mindset.
Ivan’s comment :- we come to a BBG forum for 3 hours, once a month, with a spirit of generosity. To add value to members of the group. The mindset is – “what are we going to do to add value to a member/ members and guests at the forum.”
We come to the forum to collaborate, learn from each other and grow. Over a period of time, the members of the group build klt with each other – know like and trust – and referrals will flow. (See http://ift.tt/2d9EMOY to come as a guest to a BBG forum)
Once you get to understand what your fellow member does, and you build KLT, (know like and trust) magic starts to happen.
Here is an example of how magic can happen
Roland Hanekroot, who is a long standing BNI member – has built trust over a period of time with an event manager. (BNI is a referral marketing business that meets for breakfast weekly – and also works on the premise of “givers gain”)
Here’s how that works: the other day I had a conversation with one of my fellow members who is an event manager. I don’t run events, none of my friends are about to get married and none of my clients are planning a conference, so on the face of it there was little I could do to assist her. But we spent some time getting clear about her perfect clients and then she and I went digging around in my existing networks. We found 4 people in Linkedin, as it happens, who met her criteria and I sent all 4 of them an email mentioning that I have a good friend who is an event strategist and would it be ok for me to introduce the two of them to each other. Within half an hour I had a reply from one of those contacts saying: Yes please we are just about to start looking for someone and it would be great to talk to your friend because we’ve had some terrible experiences with event managers in the past.
Just last week my friend signed a contract with this company for a small user conference to be held in a few months.
Great outcome all round, it made me feel great to have made the introduction and I’m sure that my friend will do a great job for this client because she always does.
If I need an accountant , I am 10 times more likely to ring a friend and ask him for the name of someone she knows likes and trusts than to go to the local paper or search on Google for an accountant
We are wired that way as humans. if you can get a referral from someone who knows, likes and trusts you, you are so much more likely to get the business and it costs you nothing.
And that is the point of this article. The best, easiest, cheapest, most profitable new business you can get for your business comes from word of mouth referrals.
And there is no shortcut to become referrable and build KLT (know like and trust) with fellow humans who will become your advocates. KLT is built over time – where experiences are shared, reliability and dependability is proven, and empathy between each other is created.
The most effective way for people to trust you is by having someone they trust tell them they can trust you.
Focus on having your army of advocates spread the word for you and you will indeed build an amazing Business that will help you build your generational legacy.