August 2, 2010
At a networking event, a real estate lawyer and another person were talking.
“I was thinking about investing in homes in foreclosure or underwater with their mortgage … you know; try to figure out a way to make some money out of this tough economic environment.”
The attorney responded, “The problem is …” and proceeded to put the person to whom he was talking to asleep with an astute legal description of all the associated legal issues.
I inserted myself into the conversation and asked the real estate lawyer if he knew of a realtor who would know how to help a client navigate these difficult waters.
“Oh, sure,” he said.
“Who is it?”
He told me.
Being as that we were in a networking situation and they know me as a coach, I asked them if they minded if I rewound their conversation and demonstrated what a good networking conversation would look like. They agreed.
So, the first guy repeated what he was looking for.
I pretended to be the lawyer and said, “I know a great real estate agent that can help you with that, would you like to talk with him/her?”
That is a conversation that might actually result in business which is the business of networking. Networking and whatever you do for a living are two different skills. When entering a networking environment, remember, this is not the place to demonstrate everything you know, but rather, the place to connect and help other do the same.
July 30, 2010
Networking, for the most part, needs to be fun. The stiff lipped amongst may ask, “Why does it need to be fun?”
Simply put, networking is about making personal connection and we are the most ready, willing and able to make that personal connection when we are having fun.
So, if there is something you love or enjoy very much (such as antiquing, motorcycling, quilting, private aviation, art, fine wines, religious and philanthropic activities) and if the demographics of the other people that enjoy those activities fit the profile of your prospective client, get more involved and have more fun. Obviously, this is a group where your networking will consist more of simply showing up, being an active high profile participant and finding some way of letting it be known what you do. This is not an area where others would appreciate being marketed to in a direct way, because, like you, this is where they come to relax. But, over the long term, being a valued member of this social group and letting them know what you do and that you are always open to referrals, is often a great way to build a high quality network.
When you meet others in your social groups that are interested in building their network, be helpful to them in their endeavors. This creates a networking friendly atmosphere with the primary focus on Fun. And when we are having fun, personal connections are easy to make.
July 26, 2010
Networking is how we develop a sales team through the process of personal connections, by building purposeful relationships. To be an effective networker, we are just as committed to being on other peoples’ sales teams as we are in building our own. That means. That means we listen to, pay attention to and focus on what other people need. That is how the personal connection is made.
If we actually listen to some one, we may be the only person that day, or for some people, much longer, who have actually paid attention to what they are saying. Further, in this age of e-mail, junk mail, pay per click, twitter, digital billboard, we all have the experience of a never ending supply of people trying to extract something from us. What a breath of fresh air it is when some one actually wants to help. If they do the same for you, then there is a possibility that a real relationship can be formed.
July 24, 2010
In networking, you goal is to:
- Meet prospective referral sources and develop a contact sphere
- To meet prospective clients.*
In a networking environment where people meet on a regular basis you might walk up to Mary and say, “Mary, when you were talking, you mentioned that you are a business attorney. As you know I am a business coach. When you said that you like to approach issues in (and then you paraphrase something she said) that resonated with me. I think you and I think about business in the same way. Maybe we could help each other get business, what do you think?” If the networking environment is one where you don’t know the people you are sharing the room with, it becomes very key to you develop questions that help you to quickly establish whether the person you are speaking with is a prospective client, referral source or neither.
If you get a positive response, set up a time to either meet or talk on the phone to follow-up further.
If you are a business attorney, for example, and you heard some one say something about their business partner, you might say: “I heard you mention something about your partner. I’ve worked extensively with partnerships … I’d like to meet with you to see if there are ways I could be helpful to you. Would you like that?”
If the response is positive, make arrangements and move on.
This type of approach works well because it sets the table for when you do meet, as to what the meeting is about.
Meet in a way that is comfortable, where both feel free to talk. This is information gathering. Whether this is a meeting with a prospective client or a referral source, this meeting is all about listening to their issues to see if you can help. While the meeting has a high level of comfort, there should also be a structure. After listening to their situation, this is when you have an opportunity to say something to the effect of, “this is how I see it….” and then let them know that you have heard, digested and interpreted what they had to say. And follow up with, “this is how I think I could be of help,” and then describe in broad strokes, without giving away the store, what you would do. If this is a prospective referral source, you might give an example of how you would refer them and then say, “Likewise, with me, you might say …” and then give an example of how you can be referred. If this is a prospective client, after you have said how you might be able to help them, you simply ask, “How does that sound to you?” This is one of many times when shutting your mouth and letting the other person speak first is key. If they say they like the idea, say something to close the deal, such as, “my retainer for this would be X and you would be billed at Y per hour. Are you ready to get started?” Another approach is to ask if they have questions about your services and how they work. This is where they will often ask about pricing. In either case, this is another moment when silence is important. Let them work it out for themselves. This is not a hard sell. This is one in which the prospective client has articulated their issue, you have offered a solution and it is up to the prospective client to think it through and say what they want
Whatever the outcome of this discussion, you will want to decide what kind of follow-up, if any, you want to have with this individual. If it is a referral source, my suggestion would be to suggest that two of you touch base in no more than two weeks. At that time, you will discuss any opportunities that have arisen to refer the other person, how it went and how it might be improved. Continue this process and a great power team will be created. If it is with the prospective client, the follow up will be about getting started working together or whatever your business proposition happens to be.
You should always know your conversion rates. How many prospective clients come out of how many hours of networking? This will help you evaluate the value of a given networking venue and/or the value of your networking abilities. What is your conversion rate of prospective clients into clients? This will help you understand your effectiveness when you meet prospective clients. Likewise with referral sources, it is very important to track where your clients come from to know which of your referral sources are the most valuable. Certainly it is important to cultivate new referral sources, but it is more important to maintain and improve current good ones. Just like it is much cheaper to keep a current client happy than it is to get a new client, the same thing applies to referral sources.
In summary, early in the networking process you quickly determine if there is a connection and what the nature of that connection is. If there is, you let the other person know what the possible connection is you see and that you’d like to meet them and explore it further. When you meet, you listen until the person has really had a chance to fully express themselves and then let them know that you were listening by saying back to them what you heard and what you think the most important issues are. You offer a solution and see if they want to continue. Decide if there is going to be a follow up. If so, schedule the follow up and describe what you hope to accomplish in that follow up meeting.
This is a manner of networking that has the potential of yielding great results.
*See previous blog, “What is the Purpose of Networking?”
July 22, 2010
The purpose of networking can be broken down into two categories:
- Meet and arranging follow-up with prospective clients.
- Meet and arranging to follow-up with prospective referral sources.
A great referral relationship is created when people meet the same clients in a noncompetitive way and feel comfortable referring them to each other. Ex: A CPA meets with business owners on a regular basis. I am a business coach. I don’t do accounting work. The CPA doesn’t do Coaching. This has the potential of being a great referral relationship.
The success or lack thereof of each networking event is measured in the quality and quantity of prospective clients and prospective referral sources that are obtained in the event.
July 14, 2010
What do God, Golf and Bagger Vance have in common. First of all, Everything. But now, let me break it down a little bit. In Both Golf and Business, people on the outside don’t get it. They don’t get that in each of these endeavors we are constantly called upon to reach deep inside ourselves – usually when no body is looking, like when the ball is in the rough or the woods or on the other side of the fairway – and asks, “whach-ya-gonna-do-now, huh?” and then we can do the right thing or the wrong thing. The thing about golf, and the thing about business, is that when we do the right thing – regardless of outcome – the result is joy. It just feels so good to do it Right – oh yeah!! Joy, joy, joy is the spirit of God. God could give a rat’s a…, err uh, God could care less about Business or Golf. But God – and just for the record, I don’t care who or what your God is – God cares ALOT about reaching deep, doing the right thing and feeling it, feeling that joy. Am I ready for Sunday morning TV or what! at Coach Chuck’s Church of the 1st Tee … I’ll see you at the clubhouse.
There is no book that captures the spirit of golf like The Legend of Bagger Vance. Golf is a game of mind, it is a game of our integrity, of our past, of what everyone thinks of us. And ultimately, is a game that asks, “can we just let go of everything, everything that is, or ever was, and hit the damn ball the way it needs to be hit?” And its not about thinking it. Its just about doing it. The caveat is you go through all the other stuff first, until you find yourself alone with the ball. Its you, yourself and doing the right thing – with nobody looking. What are you going to do? Bagger Vance: the book, the real deal, about the game of golf.