Networking on One Foot
While we may differ in our opinions of the origin of the Bible, most people would agree the old man summed up this complex piece of literature quite well.
What Would You Say?
If the same impatient young man came to your business, could you meet his challenge? Could you boil down the description of your business to a simple message, deliverable standing on one foot? Practice a few times. Really, do it standing on one foot, not only will you build up your leg muscles, but you will hone your networking muscles too.
The trick is to avoid a long, detailed description of your products and services. Instead, think about giving a brief, but compelling description which leaves the listener wanting more.
Then Put Your New Networking Skill Into Practice.
Once you have it down, go to a networking event and give it a try. No, you don’t have to do it on one foot, but as someone at a networking event asks what you do, treat the listener like an impatient young man. Keep your answer short and and watch what happens!
If you’ve done a good job, the listener will ask a follow up question. Keep your response short as well. The goal is not to be vague, but to provide information in manageable bites for the listener. It helps to think of a networking conversation like a tennis match. Your goal is to make contact with the ball and knock it back over the net. Remember to ask questions about their business as well.
If you follow this model as you move around the room, you will have more high quality conversations. It will be easier to separate all your new contacts into categories. Who is a prospective customer, who has the potential to be a good referral partner, and who do you want to try to avoid spending time with at the next event you attend.
Final Networking Tips: Follow up in Style
Making a connection at a networking event is just the beginning of the process. Once you have divided the contacts into groups, it is time to put the other foot down. Drop a quick email note, or reach out on social media, particularly Linkedin or Twitter. Personally, I don’t send or accept friend invitations on Facebook from business connections. I like to keep that community limited to my friends.
However you connect, remind people how they met you. Don’t send them a lengthy promotional email or add them to your newsletter list. You are still in the get to know you phase. Keep the note short, informal and plan on following up from time to time. It takes time to move from a random conversation to a viable business relationship.
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