Are you ready to navigate the world of local networking but aren't sure where to begin?
Frustrated that your networking skills are landing you NO quality leads?
Don't fret my pet!
Networking is really all about relationship building and lucky for you I am a ROCK STAR at it!
When building rapport and nurturing a relationship it takes time, patience, active listening and a great memory. Ok, well you don't have to have an impeccable memory like I do, but you at least need to be able to remember a couple of things so that you can jot them down later to refresh your memory.
I'll dive into a strategy behind what to jot down when you meet a prospect, but for now, let's focus on the five secrets for networking success!
- Dress for success
- Build rapport
- Give before you receive
- Perfect your cocktail pitch
Alright, let's break these down so that they make more sense and you can appreciate the importance behind each one.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
This one really should be common sense; however, what is common knowledge is always commonly practiced. Therefore, let's discuss what it means to dress for success. Wear professional clothing that isn't stained, ripped, revealing or in any other way inappropriate.
Wear the appropriate dress footwear. No scuffed or ratty looking shoes. No flip-flops or tennis shoes either. Keep in mind how long you'll be standing or walking around and determine what type of footwear would be best suited for the occasion and your attire.
If you're wearing a knee length dress or skirt, for the love of God, please wear nylons. I don't care if you think you have the sexiest of legs. It's unprofessional to not wear them. Nylons help give you a more polished and professional look. Trust me!
In addition to the proper clothing, make sure you're well groomed and practice good personal hygiene. Yes, that means brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and wearing deodorant in addition to making sure you bathe as well. I can't tell you how many times I have met a prospect who fell short in this area. Whether you choose to believe it or not, people do judge you based on your image. You have only a few seconds to make a lasting first impression. What first impression do you want to leave?
Lastly, put on a little bit of makeup to freshen your look and enhance your appearance. Even if you're not one that likes to wear any makeup or a lot of it, I do encourage you to wear some.
Now don't go overboard and go to an event like you're ready to go out for a hot night on the town with your girlfriends or that you just finished your dancing gig at the local strip joint. Laugh now, but I've seen it.
I recommend wearing a foundation to cover and conceal any blemishes or uneven skin. Add some mascara to open your eyes. Add a pop of color on the cheeks and either a lipgloss or lipstick for the lips. It's subtle but makes a huge difference in your overall look. I like to call this a quick dash out the door look! It's simple, enhances your beauty, and provides a more polished look. You want to portray professionalism and not skankism.
When prospecting and building rapport, you first want to flip your mindset that you must absolutely close a sale to one that's open to the opportunities that may arise from this relationship.
Build rapport with the prospect by asking girlfriend type of questions. Questions that are open-ended and provide an opportunity for them to open up, share about themselves and for the two of you to soulfully connect. An expert tip is to treat everyone you meet as if you're already best friends.
Typical questions you could ask to start a conversation and build rapport are:
- Your shoes are gorgeous, where did you get them?
- I love your dress! Who is the designer?
- Your lip color is beautiful on you, what are you wearing?
- What did you do this weekend?
- What are your favorite things to do in your free time?
- What's the latest book you're reading?
- Tell me a bit about yourself.
Just remember the acronym K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie) and you'll do great!
Now, when building rapport you want to take note of a few things:
- What do they do and who do they help?
- 1-3 fun facts.
- Prospect priority number.
The first two are easy, but let's talk about the prospect priority number. This number is what you'll give to each of your prospects. On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are they to help move the needle of success forward in your business? Can they help you? For those that are 3 or higher, they'll be a higher priority. For the ones less than 3, they're a lower priority.
You'll want to nurture all leads because you're open to the fact that every relationship can open the doors of opportunity for you. The higher priority leads will have a more aggressive type of strategy to building rapport during the follow-up stages. You'll follow-up with them right away and consistently. You'll also send thoughtful emails, personal thank you, or even meet up in person.
For the lower priority leads, you'll follow-up with them days or weeks after the initial meeting and the follow-up strategy won't be as robust or frequent. You may send a quick Facebook message, retweet, or a short email on occasion to "check in".
As you can see, both are being nurtured via a strategy; however, one is more intentional and designed to be impactful. Whereas the other is more nonchalant and carefree.
GIVE BEFORE YOU RECEIVE
When building rapport and nurturing the prospect, you want to provide value. Give openly and freely without any expectation of anything in return.
As you're listening to them tell you all about their life and business, take mental note of things they're saying and listen to the red flags of how you can help them without a hidden agenda. Perhaps you know someone who could design their logo or a high school kid who could mow their law.
Whatever it may be, just actively listen so that you can find a way to provide value to the prospect by having a servant leader's heart. Provide them value in the way of a resource that you have, connecting them to someone, or even just lending them an ear down the road.
Just keep it simple and lead with your heart.
PERFECT THE COCKTAIL PITCH
Everyone knows that you must have a cocktail pitch or what you may know as the elevator pitch when networking. It is inevitable that someone will ask you, What do you do?
Rather than being a blubbering mess and looking at the with a deer in the headlights look, craft your pitch, practice it in front of a mirror, and say it with confidence. You want to be able to deliver the pitch easily and effortless so that it rolls off the tongue, leaves them intrigued, and wanting to know more.
I recommend that you have two cocktail pitches. One that is a sweet one-liner for when someone asks you, "What do you do?" and a second one that's more in depth that can be used as a bio, an introduction or as a continuation from the sweet-one-liner when the prospect wants to know more.
In a nutshell, your sweet one-liner wants to cover who you help, what you do, and how you help them.
If you're struggling to create and perfect your cocktail pitch, I have an incredible free resource in my Resource Library. It's a Cocktail Pitch Template that you can use to create both the sweet-one-liner and expanded 60-second cocktail pitch. To grab this amazing free resource, all you need to do is request access HERE.
Last but not least we have to follow-up. I am sure you have heard the fortune is made in the follow-up. Maybe you don't agree, but I know it's true. I have nurtured leads over a year or two before they bought from me and the reason they bought was that I continued to nurture the relationship. I showed I cared and that I was genuinely interested in them. No hidden agenda, I was giving wholeheartedly without any expectation of anything in return.
As a result, when they were ready to work with me they signed right up! No discovery or sales call needed. Just an email or message was needed and botta bing botta boom, the deal was made.
This very thing can happen to you too as a direct result of your networking efforts. In order for it to be successful, you must have a follow-up strategy in place. If you don't have a follow-up strategy in place, then I recommend following a simple 2+2+2 method to get started. Here's how it works, follow up two days after an initial meeting, two weeks later, and then every two months.
This method is simple to follow and easy to remember. Utilize it if you wish or create your strategy for success. Don't forget you'll want to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track your leads and store notes.
There are a lot of options out there, but if you're on a bootstrapping budget you can easily use Google sheets or an Excel spreadsheet. In fact, I have a Prospect Tracker in my Resource Library as well that you're more than welcome to download it by requesting access HERE.
If you'd like a more robust system that can do pretty much everything in your business: contracts, CRM, invoice, bookkeeping, etc, then I recommend Dubsado or 17hats. I have test drove Dubsado and I personally use 17hats. Both are incredible platforms that are extremely similar and get the job done.
Alright, there you have it! Five powerful secrets for networking success. As you can see, each one is important but together you can conquer the world. Well, maybe not really, but you can master the art of networking and have it be a success!
Share in the comments below: What your #1 struggle is when it comes to networking with others?
Don't forget about the incredible FREE resources that are in my VIP Resource Library.
- Cocktail Pitch Template
- Prospect Tracker (Excel format)
- NEW! The Fearless Entrepreneurs Guide to a Successful Event, Expo or Tradeshow
Request access to these amazing resources HERE.