Networking is a great way to grow your business, however only if done correctly. Do you know the correct etiquette when it comes to connecting with someone for the very first time? If you don’t, your approach might sour a relationship with someone who may have become your biggest advocate.
Whether networking with someone online or offline there is one principle you should follow. Unfortunately, even today, there are many people who are either unaware of this principle or they are simply ignoring it.
Just last week online, someone requested to connect with me. No sooner did I authorise our connection the very next email I received from him was:
“Hello. I would like to bring your attention towards online business. I have the great idea to earn money here and there. Contact me I will help you in a better way to grab your success.”
Is this person serious?
Ignoring the fact that the email was full of grammatical errors, this person hadn’t even taken the time to get to know me, or what I needed support with.
This was not an icebreaker – but a deal breaker.
I reported his email as spam and immediately blocked him from my contacts.
Sadly, this can also occur with face-to-face networking.
After the initial introduction with someone, they turn the conversation to them, their products and services, and before you know it they’re trying to make an appointment with you so they can continue to showcase and sell you their ‘stuff’.
Again, not an icebreaker – but a deal breaker.
Will I become a client or refer business to this person after he/she approaches me in this way.
So what is the best approach?
With networking it’s vital to understand the number one principle is relationship building first and foremost – NOT selling.
Following are four Icebreakers – questions you can use the next time you meet someone for the very first time, so you can start to build a relationship first.
- “Tell me about your business and the work you do?”
- “I’ve been hearing about some of the changes in your industry. Is your business being impacted because of these changes?
- “What are some of the projects you’re working on at the moment?”
- “I have a large network. Who is your ideal client so I keep your name handy as a reference should one of my network contacts be looking for someone with your expertise?”
All of these icebreakers put the other person in the limelight and is focused on them and their needs. [By the way, these are some of the questions I’ve been asked at networking events and was happy to respond to them].
Learning more about a person, their business, and their needs is priceless as you could become an incredible resource for them, as well as someone they get to know, like and trust.
And, guess what?
People are more likely to refer and/or work with people they know, like and trust.
Now, let’s look at seven deal breakers you’ll want avoid.
- Talking ONLY about you, you, and guess who? You.
- Interrupting and bringing the conversation back to your products and services each chance you get.
- Doing all the talking and not letting the other person get a word in.
- Going in for the sale, despite the other person not mentioning a need or interest in purchasing your products/services.
- Not listening to what other people have to say.
And these are deal breakers too:
- Taking people’s business cards, subscribing them to your newsletter or email database, and emailing them without their consent. [Note: this is not only a deal breaker, it is illegal].
- Speaking to people at a networking event and then:
- Sending them a bulk email with all of the email addresses able to be viewed by everyone you emailed; AND
- Focusing the entire LONG email all about yourself, your products/services, and how people can book you. [Yes, this is what someone sent me after a rushed introduction. She was obviously trying to get around to as many people in the room to collect their business cards].
Let me ask you, if any of these things happened to you at the next networking event you attended – would you be likely to recommend or become a client of the person who did these things?
Don’t be tempted to use any of the tactics yourself as you will only be jeopardising an association with someone who could have become a huge advocate for your business had you taken time to nurture the relationship.
Think relationship first and foremost.
When you do, the business will follow.
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Question: Have you seen or experienced any icebreakers that impressed you? Or deal breakers? Go ahead and share in the comments section by clicking here.