We all know that word-of-mouth advertising is one of the cheapest and most effective types of advertising that you and your company can get. In order to make this happen, you need to get out of your office and network with people at your local Chamber of Commerce, industry association or a business card exchange event. However, the reality is this: Very few people go to these events to buy what you are selling.
When You Are Networking, You Are Not Selling.
When you are at a networking event, don't focus on trying to sell to everyone. Look at it as an opportunity to be a teacher, a center of influence and a fountain of knowledge for buying what you are selling. By making a few changes to your approach, you can become a center of influence in any industry and, in effect, generate a considerable amount of word-of-mouth advertising.
Go Into A Networking Event To Do Just That. . .Network.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when they network is trying to sell to someone (this happens whether or not they are showing buying signals). This is the LAST thing you should do. Don't talk about how great you are or why someone should buy from you. Just have a general one or two sentence overview of what you do and the type of people you work with. Tell people this, along with how much fun you have doing your job, and you will find people asking you more about what you do. If you go into a heavy sales pitch, you will only end up pushing opportunities away.
If They Like And Trust You, You Will Have A Better Chance Of Making A Sale.
Networking is one of the best ways for increasing your field of influence to help promote what you sell. Moreover, the reality of being in business is that people do business with (and recommend) those whom they like and trust. To facilitate this bond, you should help other people get what they want.
Take An Interest In Other People.
Experts have proven that people like those who are interested in them. One of the fastest ways of getting people to talk is to ask them questions about what they do. So, what type of questions can you ask someone? Here are a few questions that you can ask at your next networking event (write them down on a small card and read them before you go into your next event):
- What is your name?
- What line of work are you in?
- Do you own the company (never assume that people are at the low end of their company)?
- Where are you located?
- What made you start your own company (owner question), or how long have you been working for this company? This keeps the conversation rolling and provides you with some interesting background information.
- I know a lot of people here. What type of person would be a good prospect who I could introduce to you? Once you ask this question, you will be shocked at the positive effect this will have on the conversation.
- Ask everyone for a business card and for their permission to send your newsletter to them.
Executive Summary: If you do this at every networking event you attend, the word will spread rather quickly that YOU are the person everyone needs to turn to when buying what you are selling. You can also leverage your sales by sending these same people a series of e-mail newsletters and direct mail campaigns.
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