Networking: It’s not all about you!

networking

Ok so I’ve done a lot of networking recently, through various networking groups. And in my mind, there’s one thing that many people seem to get wrong.

They just talk about themselves.

“We do this. We do that. We’ve been around for this long. Now please buy from me.”

There’s nothing wrong with telling people what you do. But if those people can’t figure out – or simply don’t realise – what benefits you can bring to them, you’re just another printer, accountant, business coach, or whatever category you fit into.

This could be down to a couple of things: bad prep, or a misunderstanding of what networking is about.

You can’t just expect that by simply telling people all about yourself that they’re suddenly going to see a need for your services. People won’t automatically make the connection between what you do and how it benefits them.

You need to tap into what it is they need, what it is that makes them feel good. It needs to stop being about you, and be about THEM.

What would you prefer, 20 people in a room that know what you do, or 20 people that know how you can help them out and make their lives easier?

In my experience, there’s a few simple ways of doing that…

Good will

What goes around, comes around.

Networking is at its best when everyone works as a team. You all become an extension of each other’s networking team.

So you’ve got to be prepared to help each other out and always keep an eye out for making a connection between people you know.

I met a great SMS marketing company call Reach Interactive the other day. In the meeting I was thinking of people straight away that I could mention their product to and link up straight away.

Not because I’m trying to get a few brownie points, but because it’s a great product that has so many great applications, and it’s a great way to build relationships.

And networking is all about building relationships.

You’ve got to approach networking with the view that you’re not going to instantly have everyone knocking at your door. But as you build relationships, putting yourself in the thoughts of like-minded businesses around you, showing that you really are a specialist in your field, doors will start to open.

All about the benefits

You know your business inside out. You know what you do, how you do it, how you can help people, who your target audience is.

But therein lies the problem!

You’ve got to flip it on its head and start thinking about it from your audience’s perspective. And this is where a little bit of prep helps.

Who are your audience when you’re networking? Are you trying to educate the people in the room about the benefits of your business, products or services so they might use you? Or are there people in the room that you know will be great for bridging the gap between you and our perfect clients?

Now, what benefits do you bring to those people?

And don’t get confused between benefits and advantages. Advantages are what makes it better. Benefits are the impact it has. So what’s the bottom line?

Educate

The problem with educating people is it takes time, and businesses often want an immediate return from networking. They want to meet someone straight away that’s a perfect match – business done, money in the bank.

But it doesn’t often work like that.

So you have to educate. And the more you educate, the wider the potential target audience for your offering.

It’s even suggested that less than 10% of the people you meet are actually looking for the service you offer. Yet by educating, you’re tapping into up to 70% of people who were interested in finding out about you, but didn’t realise they had a need for what you had to offer until you educated them.

Or they simply weren’t in the market for it yet.

For example, as a copywriter, I could say I save you the time of writing copy, or I help you get to the top of Google’s search engine rankings, or I simply make sure that your words are all accurate.

Now I wouldn’t expect that everyone I meet would get the same benefits from using me, so I have to educate over time about the different benefits I bring.

Is it crazy to think someone I’ve spoken to might think they know someone who hasn’t the time to write their own content? Or maybe they know someone else who does have the time, but doesn’t know how to make it number 1 on Google?

By educating, you strengthen your relationships, and you reach more people.

As a member of 4Networking, I’ve done well out of regularly meeting new people who want to grow their business. And I like to think it’s to do with some of the things I’ve mentioned. So next time you’re at a networking event, try to make it more about them, and as little about you as possible.

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