- First of all you need to throw away all inhibitions. You cannot afford to be afraid of or shy to meet new people.
- Do not attend only one networking forum, and make sure you commit to regular attendance to those that you choose. Networking is like advertising – sometimes you have to show up many times before people begin to notice.
- Do not stand in a huddle with people you know or wait for someone to come to you. Step forward confidently and meet everyone.
- Show a real interest in what they do. This more often than not opens a door to your own story.
- Dress appropriately i.e. smart-casual.
- Engaging people is best done while getting snacks or drinks. It allows you to open the conversation with something about the catering.
- Do not hold too much food and/or drink in your hands. Keep them free to shake hands and express yourself. Besides, there is less chance you will spill or mess. Remember you have attended in order to present yourself, not to eat and drink.
- Always, and I mean always, have your business card ready to hand out. Do not hand out bent or damaged cards.
- Don’t just walk around collecting and handing out cards, you must engage in conversation. Establish personal credibility before swapping cards.
- Collect only relevant business cards.
- Join the dots. Don’t just find one opportunity, see if you can find a few companies/individuals that your business could collaborate with.
- Keep good pictures of the products you sell on your mobile phone. Let technology work for you.
- Turn complaints into opportunities. If someone quotes a bad experience with your company then apologise and offer to put it right…and do so immediately if you can! Avoid feeble excuses.
- Follow up the very next day with those that you feel you can do business with. And don’t be put off after the first call – make at least three calls and do your best to establish an appointment.
- Never burn your bridges i.e. always leave a good impression even if their is no opportunity. Remember, they went to the same networking session as you.
Thinking laterally when selling
Young Johnny bought a donkey from a farmer for R100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. However, the next day he drove up and said, ‘Sorry son, but I have some bad news. The donkey died.’ Johnny replied, ‘Well then just give me my money back.’ The farmer said, ‘Can’t do that. I’ve already spent it.’ Johnny said, ‘OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey.’ The farmer asked, ‘What are you going to do with him?’ Johnny said, ‘I’m going to raffle him off.’ The farmer said, ‘You can’t raffle a dead donkey!’ Johnny said, ‘Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.’
A month later, the farmer met up with Johnny and asked, ‘What happened with that dead donkey?’ Johnny said, ‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two rands a piece and made a profit of R898’. The farmer said, ‘Didn’t anyone complain?’ Johnny said, ‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two rands back.’ Johnny now works for a Pension Fund Company in South Africa.
Source: THE TREOC TIMES – Edition 463 – 13 June 2014