Networking should be about making contacts, not clients
Photo courtesy of Kriss Szkurlatowski
You're at a networking event and find yourself chatting with two people. One of them is a perfect client for you. Oh, he doesn't realize it yet, but with a little careful questioning, he'll discover he needs about a hundred of your widgets. Wouldn't that be a great contract? Sure! But, what about the other person? Well, he seems nice and all, but he really doesn't have any use for widgets.
So, who should you focus your attention on?
Oh, did I mention the second gentleman is married to a corporate buyer who is looking for a supplier who can provide one thousand widgets per month for the next five to ten years? Does that change your answer?
One of the most common traps in networking is to get caught with our sales hat on at a networking event. Maybe we haven't made our quota this month. Maybe we haven't made it for the past three. Whatever the reason, we walk through the door on the hunt for clients and prospects, forgetting that we should be looking for ambassadors and friends.
I know I've done it on more than one occasion.
So, how do we avoid that trap? How can we network and not sell? For me, the best technique is to take a few seconds before I walk in the door to remind myself of what my goals are. Usually I want to meet two or three people with whom I feel a connection and get their cards so I can contact them later. Taking that extra moment helps me to re-center my focus on the reason for showing up at a networking event: meeting new people.
Remember: If you focus on building good relationships, finding prospects will take care of itself.