A networking event is not–I repeat not–designed to bring strangers together for the purpose of referring themselves to one another. Why would you refer yourself to someone you barely know? A typical networking event is designed to have people who don’t know one another meet and mingle. But for a networking event to be fully productive for you, you must meet the right people for the right reasons. Meeting the right people will make a positive impact on your business and give you a high return on your networking investment.
So, at a networking event, how exactly do you identify the right people to meet? You do this by considering two types of individuals: those serving your preferred clients and those who have the potential to help you meet your business goals. Today I’d like to focus on looking at those who serve the same professional client as you. “Hey, aren’t those folks likely to be my competitors?” you might wonder. Not necessarily.
Consider these two examples:
- Lorraine is a real estate agent whose preferred clients are retired home owners or empty nesters with assets over $1 million, who love to travel, are country club members, and seriously pamper their pets. Other suppliers for their services might include high-end salons and spas, professional landscapers, financial advisors, country club owners, travel agents, home-cleaning service providers, and pet resorts.
- Tanya is the owner of a direct-mail company that targets colleges and universities. When Tanya could not determine who else serviced the decision makers at the university, her marketing coach asked her if she had a current client in that preferred market. She said yes. Then she was asked, “How well do you know her? Will she take your call? Would she grant you thirty minutes of her time?” Tanya emphatically replied, “Yes!” Her coach then suggested that she schedule a purposeful meeting and sit down with her to pick her brain on who she grants her time to and who else supports her needs.
Your preferred clients have many suppliers for their needs and it could be in your best interest to connect and build relationships with those other suppliers so, when networking, you want to focus on meeting these people. The answers to the questions that were asked of Tanya helped direct her to the people she should be searching for while networking. You can gain the same benefit by having a similar conversation with one of your preferred clients and asking questions like these: “Who else solves your daily problems?” ; “Who do you allow in the door?” ; “What companies do you call on when you need (product)?” ; “Whom do you trust when it comes to helping you (type of service)?”
At networking events, look for name tags that fit specific professional categories you’re seeking to cultivate. If you meet a professional who services your preferred client–and you like the individual as a person–consider this the first step in building a new relationship. If you build a trusting and giving relationship with someone who provides services for your preferred client market, it stands to reason that your referral potential will increase dramatically. Remember that in a true tri-win (that’s win-win-win) relationship, that person’s referral potential will also increase, and the client will get the best service possible.
Be sure to come back next week as I’ll be posting specifically about the other types of people you want to focus on meeting while networking–those who can help you meet your business goals.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear any stories you may have about how you successfully built a relationship with someone who serves the same professional client as you do and how that relationship has benefited you and/or the other service provider . Please share your experiences in the comment forum below–thanks!