“So what do you do?” ….. and …..”How’s business?”
Two of the most common questions asked at every business networking event …. yet we all have failed to deliver a response that solicits greater interest and, more importantly, new business!
For almost every banker a major component of their sales strategy is to engage in business and/or community networking activities. And clearly that makes sense – as networking is the art of with prospects and clients.
Like all sales activity, it is important that you are deliberate and structured about your efforts in order to maximize the use of your limited business development time.
Make sure you have a very specific purpose for networking and are highly selective about which networking events to attend. Create networking goals and select events that align to your target market.
Some common purposes include:
If this is your main purpose (as it is for many) then be proactive and deliberate about your outcome focus. Always aim to gain an understanding of the type of attendees expected at an event and set some connection targets/goals.
Determine how you would like to be perceived by the event audience and proactively take steps to establish that reputation. Community volunteer? Finance expert? Business connector? Volunteer your services to the event organizers and/or attendees. Become known as the “go-to” person in your field or your local community.
Many networking functions offer great presentations/resources on valuable topics that can further your skills. Also networking events are a great way to practice your interpersonal and sales skills.
Some professionals simply enjoy the social aspect of business networking events, ultimately forming friendships with regular attendees. And whilst that may be a valid purpose for you, it is important that you respect that many/most others at the event are seeking to build mutually rewarding business connections. Consequently you should not be disillusioned by the motivations of others and be prepared/open to developing more professional business relationships that may only be intended to create business opportunities.
How do you act when you host an event at home? You’re welcoming, you introduce people, you encourage participation in activities and you show people around. Even if you’re not actually hosting the next business event you attend, it is still easy to convey these “hosting” attributes and attract great connections.
It’s never fun to network alone so consider inviting a client, a colleague, a strategic partner – or even your life partner – to the next event. The more people you know – the better the conversation. However, be sure to leverage your guest to meet others rather than simply spend the entire event speaking solely to your guest.
Write down and rehearse your response to those two common networking questions. Create a compelling introduction and always remain positive about your business performance.
Avoid the standard “Name, Rank & Serial Number” introduction many business people give at a networking event. Be different and memorable. Offer some interesting information about your target market or the economy that could resonate with an audience and then provide a brief explanation about the compelling solutions your bank provides.
Remember, people prefer to spend time with interesting, positive, upbeat people. Suggest that business is booming and that you have been gaining lots of referrals from networking events (a brilliant referral technique that Robert Cialdini refers to as “pre-suasion”).
And don’t forget business cards.
Show genuine interest in the people you meet by asking them compelling questions and you will become a far more interesting (and memorable) new business contact.
I am astonished at how few people actually follow up with me after a networking event (assuming I haven’t reached out to them first). Follow up with your new connections with an email and a phone call. Always look for ways to add value and obtain a meeting to explore further opportunities.
Keep on networking and good luck.
Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. Grow UP Sales has partnered with BankTalentHQ to provide career, management and leadership coaching to its members. For sales strategy facilitation and sales coaching contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the webpage www.growupsales.com.