You smile as 5.30PM comes round and you know you will be mingling with people who can only benefit your business, your network and your soul. You polish your shoes and rush to the sophisticated event and show pleasant surprise at the quality of the wine and look on at the energetic crowd filling the chamber / society / club room.
You effortlessly join a medium sized group and seem to be accepted and included in a heartbeat – “So, Matthew, What do you think about the new Foreign Secretary?” and you are away.
By the end of the evening you have made introductions between multiple parties, listened to the ambitions of others and identified some great riches for your network – people that will potentially be future project partners, direct customers and, possibly, friends for life.
How does that compare with your last event?
Have I over polished the story? Is it more often about cheap white wine, a sea of boring grey suits and a complete absence of decision makers, life changers and comedians? Where did it all go wrong?
There are places to go and plenty to avoid – if they are too crowded you can’t move around. If they are too small your pond may only contain minnows. If they all know each other you have no clever introductions to make.
It is essential to pick expanding and dynamic organisations and events to ensure fresh blood, a more energetic atmosphere and a more open attitude to actual networking.
A personal victory happened a few years ago when I joined a famously conservative organisation in business. Their socials were normally boozy but filled with juniors with no budget or deep experience. Along with a few training buddies we changed the dynamic and put on a business series of demonstration master classes at this organisation.
After a few months the word began to spread. Eventually the seats filled up and were occupied by pen wielding decision makers who, instead of looking terrified at the prospect of volunteering, seemed to want to join in with the team exercises. After each demonstration the social part became warmer and warmer as we schmoozed with returners and talked with ever more senior people. Eventually the pound dropped and training business started to flow our way.
Occasionally you need to prime the pump, lead a horse to water and put your best foot forward – and employ idioms to make a point.
Great networkers help other people at events. A trick I picked up from the “Gandalf” of marketing is pre-forming a list of high quality providers that will supply what is needed and exceed expectations.
Let me explain.
Executives are always looking for an IT specialist to recover lost and confidential material, a great fill-in receptionist for summer, a web designer who understands business and can host sites as well, a classy caterer that does not charge the earth and does tapas, a landscape gardener that works with stone and water, and – the list goes on – If you collect a few stars you will always be in demand and your brand label as Mrs. or Mr. helpful will be assured.
Many potentially great networkers are let down by not preparing, practicing or “owning” their key attributes. It is vitally important that you structure your area of expertise with style and impact.
- “I help AAA to get BBB outcome
- I am the only CCC that DDD’s
- I unlock the potential in EEE to achieve FFF”
(See also the ITC blog on upgrading social opportunities – You Gotta Hustle)
The Introverted Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is famous for hesitant engagement and poor follow up.
Do feel free to break the mold.
Enter all captured data in your system (see the previous blog post on databases) and connect the next day to say how pleasant it was to meet Mrs. X, AND go a little further. Do you have a web link, a suggestion, a film or a gift that will place you firmly “front-of-mind” and position you as a good egg, a positive person and a potential key person of influence? (Thanks Daniel Priestley for the phrase.)
From there it is about having something special to invite people to, having something of value to share and offering help and assistance in not too pushy a way for when your qualified prospects need to call upon you and press the START button.
So, how will you feel at 5.30PM when it is time to shine your shoes and head off to the event?
For more ideas on how establish and grow your Independent Trainer Business we invite you to join us for the Independent Trainer Consultative Selling Webinar 3 – GOING FOR GROWTH, on 5th October 2016, 6PM London time, 7PM Paris time. Register now at;