The advantages of connecting with people before entering the room

May 27, 2006

As I promised in the post of last week, I explain this week the advantages of connecting with people before entering the room. They are multiple:

They are not in groups yet. Lots of people come to an event alone. They probably know people who are already inside the room or who still have to come. It is easier to make contact with people who are alone. This is more likely to happen in the moments before entering a room.

They are not focused yet on people they want to meet. Most people who did their homework have a list of people they want to meet. And they start looking for them from the moment they enter the room. Unless you or your organisation are famous, you won’t be on this list. Connecting with them before entering the room gives you the opportunity to speak with them before they are occupied in other conversations.

You get in the networking mood. You could consider these conversations as a warming up for the rest of the event.

Maybe you find a networking partner for the rest of the event. If you didn’t bring a networking partner to the event, but you’re still more comfortable with having one, this might be the moment to find one.

Have a great networking day !

Jan

PS: this is an abstract from my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (go to www.letsconnect.be and get your FREE light version of the book)


When to start networking at an event?

May 20, 2006

Most participants start networking when they enter the room where the actual event is taking place. And this is a pity. Why? Because they missed a lot of opportunities.

Let’s go over some of those opportunities in a special way: in reverse order. Picture a movie that you rewind.

Reception desk: here you get lots of opportunities:

  • While waiting for your name tag, you can start a conversation with the people in front or behind you.
  • Ask for the attendance list (if you didn’t get it beforehand): if you didn’t plan how to deal with the event, this is your last chance for preparation.
  • My golden tip: connect with the organiser. And if she is not there, ask the host to point her out. Always thank the organiser for her efforts to organise the event and the invitation. Do this sincerely. No sucking-up allowed. People feel when a compliment is not real.

Lobby: if it is a large venue, the lobby could be the place to start a conversation with potential co-attendees. If the people you approached are not participating in the event, at least you had the opportunity to work on your “contact making” skills. And maybe you had a nice and fruitful conversation too.

Parking: the same as with the lobby. Use your time from the parking to the reception area efficiently and effectively by connecting with other people.

A few hours before the event: meet another attendee for breakfast, lunch or diner before the networking event starts. This is a perfect opportunity to have a one-on-one chat and optimising your travel time (avoiding traffic jams, having other meetings,…).

A few days before the event: you can contact other attendees to invite them for breakfast, lunch or diner. You can also have a small private meeting before or during the event. Or you can just ask to talk for five minutes during the reception. Making this physical contact at the event (or only on the phone) makes a follow-up afterwards much easier.

Next week I explain why connecting with people before entering the room can be a very good idea.

Have a great networking day !

Jan

PS: this is an abstract from my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (go to www.letsconnect.be and get your FREE light version of the book)


How to ask for a referral

May 13, 2006

In addition to the previous post, I want to address a question that I get very often: how to ask for a referral?

In fact it is very simple: just ask for it. Many people make up in their minds various reasons why they should NOT ask for a referral instead of the opposite. The reason is the fear of rejection.

But if you provide good products and/or services that can help people improve their business or life in any other way, why should you fear to be rejected?

However to ask a stranger for a referral is mostly not the most effective way. Why? Because he doesn’t know you yet. So if you have never asked for a referral the best place to start is with (satisfied) customers.

I recommend asking these questions to your current customers:

  • Are you satisfied with our product/service?
  • If they say no, you have the opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer (who is on his way of leaving you for another supplier) into a satisfied one.
  • If they say yes, ask:
  • Would you recommend me/us to others?
  • If they say no or hesitate, this is the same no as above.
  • if they say yes, you can ask them for a name and contact data. Or even better: to bring you in touch with this third party via telephone or e-mail (an example of such an e-mail can be found in my book “Let’s Connect!”)

Many people don’t ask this question, because they assume that satisfied customers will automatically talk about them (word-of-mouth). This happens, but only in a very limited way. Think of your own situation: if you visited a superb restaurant yesterday, do you send an e-mail to all your contacts today? No. But if someone asks you today if you know a good restaurant, you would recommend the one you visited yesterday. The same applies to your products/services.

So, just ask. If your customers are satisfied they will gladly refer you to other people. They will even tell you: “Why didn’t you ask this question before?”

Try it. You will be amazed with the results !

Jan


Networking is an attitude

May 6, 2006

Many people that come to my networking training courses think I will tell them they have to go out to business events every night. Especially when it is an in-company training (most of the times this means that the participants didn’t have the choice to attend the course, management ordered them to).

So I was very glad that Erik Van Slembrouck, one of the participants of a training course I did for BMW, said in the evaluation: “I thought networking was attending events after working hours and selling your business. Now I know that by doing the same activities as I did before the training, but with a different mind set this can make a huge difference.”

The mind set he is referring to means: really listening to your contacts and asking how you can help them in their business or their life in general. It is about building relationships instead of superficial contacts.

And if you are in sales, also asking customers if they are really satisfied and always look and listen how you can improve their satisfaction by providing better service or referring them to others or getting them in touch with other companies that can solve other problems. If you do this instead of looking for the way to get their money and run, you will not only build a customer base, but also a never ending referral base.

So what is YOUR mind set today? 

Have a great networking day !

Jan

PS: if you think this post is not for you because you are not in sales, you might be wrong. Everybody is in sales. Your colleagues or other departments can be your (internal) customers.


%d bloggers like this: