Spring is a busy time for professional seminars and networking affairs. These events provide one of the cheapest and most effective types of advertising that you and your company can get. But in order to make this happen, you need to get out of your office and network with people. However, the reality is this: very few people go to these events to buy what you are selling.
The important rule to keep in mind when attending these type of events is: When You Are Networking, You Are Not Selling.
When you are at a networking event, don’t focus on trying to sell to everyone. Look at it as an opportunity to be a teacher, a center of influence and a fountain of knowledge for buying what you are selling. By making a few changes to your approach, you can become a center of influence in any industry and, in effect, generate a considerable amount of word-of-mouth advertising.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when they network is trying to sell to someone (this happens whether or not they are showing buying signals). This is the LAST thing you should do. Don’t talk about how great you are or why someone should buy from you. Just have a general one or two sentence overview of what you do (sometimes known as an “elevator pitch”) and the type of people you work with. Tell people this, along with how much fun you have doing your job, and you will find people asking you more about what you do. If you go into a heavy sales pitch, you will only end up pushing opportunities away.
One of the fastest ways of getting people to talk is to ask them questions about who they are and what they do. By asking these questions, you will quickly get to know people and learn about their company. But don’t stop there. Get out a pen and write down on their business cards some key information about them. When you get back to the office, enter their names in whatever customer contact tool you use so you can keep track of these people electronically. This will make it easier when it comes time to send them electronic newsletters or direct-mail campaigns.
If you do this at every networking event you attend, the word will spread rather quickly that YOU are the person everyone needs to turn to when buying what you are selling. You can also leverage your sales by sending these same people a series of e-mail newsletters and direct mail campaigns.
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