Network Marketing Strategies

Social Internet & Face to Face Business Development

Making Connections: Creating Draw: Networking Conversations

The goal here is to make a connection with someone in a conversational context. People are hard-wired to socialize and its only logical that they will generally start by promoting themselves in any social environment. Our predisposition to self interest exacerbates this approach to networking. Unfortunately, a room filled with people that are attempting to socialize in only this way looks a little like a public riot…

…However, add just one person to the mix who is willing to receive (listen to what the others are saying) and suddenly that person becomes the most popular kid in the class. You want to be that kid in any networking situation.

Now you know how politicians were invented! (And how they get elected!)

So the trick, in networking, is to appeal to an individual’s predisposition for promoting themselves and make a direct appeal to their self interest. By doing so and being the receiver you’ll get their attention.

  • A quick note. As I read what I have written I realize that I sound like somebody who desires to manipulate people. This makes my approach to networking seem very negative. The truth is that I am actually interested in the people around me. In fact I get thoroughly engrossed in the lives and activities of the people in my midst. What I am trying to make clear about my networking approach is that expressing interest in others will allow you to form the beginnings of a relationship. When I was young there was a very pretty girl that I liked and wanted to get to know but every time I tried to talk to her she always shifted away and wouldn’t look at me. She only talked about herself and was very short with me; so I stopped bothering her. I learned later that she was actually very attracted to me and she didn’t understand why I never asked her out or pursued her further. The disconnect there was our lack of a common language with which to communicate our interest in each other. The behavior that I describe in my networking approach is that common language and it is not for the sake of manipulation; It is for the sake of communication.

Use these skills whenever you are in a situation where you want to engage somebody (and that would be all the time and with everybody in any environment networking or otherwise.) The following assumes that you’re speaking to somebody that you’re meeting for the first time -which is what you should be doing when you’re working your business:

  • First, make eye contact and hold that contact steady. It’s common to look into somebody’s right eye. Do not look away at distractions while speaking with somebody: Your steady gaze conveys your interest and engagement.

  • Say, “HI!” Be a dumb blonde here (it works for me!) Even if your spontaneous introduction feels inappropriate to the other party they’ll at least take pity on you if you seem like a happy-friendly idiot.

  • Find something to ask the person about themselves. At a networking mixer my common first line is, “What do you do?” since everybody at a networking event does something and is there to promote it. But if you’re talking to a teller while you’re in a bank then you’ll have to be a little bit more creative.

  • Quickly compare their response and personality (silently, in your head) to your own reasons for being in contact with the person. In the meantime offer your name and ask for theirs.

  • Ask them if they have a card first and then offer yours in exchange (or just hand them yours if they don’t have a card.) If they don’t ask you about yourself don’t volunteer anything, keep the focus on them. If they do ask tell them what you do and be excited about it.

Now you have to be quickly artful and think on your feet:

  • What’s going on with this person based on what you know and what they’re telling you (and saying with body language) so far? Are they excited? Tired? Do they like you? Are they into themselves? Are they into you? Do they want to talk? About themselves? About you? About the weather? Are they trying to avoid you? Are they excited about you? Are they wanting to talk to somebody else? Do they need to go to the bathroom? Are they bored? Just arrived? Ready to leave? You need to be connected with what this person is experiencing and you have only the few seconds of contact that you’ve had so far to figure this out. MOST IMPORTANTLY! Is there something that you can do for this person!

  • Whatever it is, do it. It doesn’t matter what it is (so long as its appropriate to the situation and your newly-formed relationship.) It may be simply that they need to leave, let them. Maybe they need some water, get it or let them get it. Maybe they don’t want to talk to you, excuse yourself for the next person. Maybe they would like to engage you further about themselves or about you, do it!
  • While you’re looking for the clues that will help you be of immediate service be listening to the person for the gold of how your business or your needs, and theirs, might have common or complimentary elements of interest to work with. You and your business should have a number of elements that you can apply here and you should be well versed in them. Here’s mine:

These first ones are my gold:

  1. I employ people; I put women to work running their own businesses.
  2. I organize parties and pampering sessions for women.
  3. I sell valuable cosmetic products at great prices.
  4. I do makeup and makeover sessions for free. (yeah, FREE!)
  5. I give $25 gift certificates to women who will survey my products at our Mary Kay Training Center in Terra Linda.
  6. I provide a networking tool (my Women of Marin Business Portfolio) with the opportunity for somebody’s exposure to my clients.
  7. I work with women in general (and I truly enjoy working with women); I’m in the cosmetic business so I’m interested in every woman (it doesn’t mean that they’re interested in working with me though so I have to gauge it.)

These are my silver:

  1. I help my personal team members (my MK consultants) by meeting their needs (for networking options, banking needs, credit needs, office help, whatever) with the people that I meet and like in those industries.
  2. I help my MK directors meet their needs (for meeting rooms, personal assistants, motivational speakers, etc.) with the people that I meet and like in those industries.
  3. I’m an Ambassador for the SR Chamber of Commerce; I help members get what they need and I’m their liaison to the Chamber.
  4. I promote businesses and individuals that I like to everybody that I meet.
  5. I’m a connected networker; I connect businesses together on a personal and thoughtful level.
  6. I try to help businesses succeed in network marketing through free training and consulting (as well as paid consulting.)
  7. I donate products and services to help fundraiser events for social causes.

These are my bronze:

  1. I’m nice; I like people and I enjoy engaging them and entertaining them.
  2. I like riding motorcycles and I need insurance, mechanical services and safety equipment.
  3. I like music and can engage a musician or a fan.
  4. I used to train dogs for a living and I like pets and can relate to animal lovers.
  5. I’m a good friend to have; I will help the people that I like in any way that I can.
  6. I’m a volunteer; I like to give my time doing things that I enjoy, environmental restoration, manning booths, etc.
  7. I have money to spend and I am always on the lookout for people who provide fantastic services. (A tip here; Mary Kay consultants receive INCREDIBLE service perks from organizations that get connected with the company or with individual units. Mediocre service walks us right out the door. Don’t do that.)

Is it becoming obvious that the longer my lists of services and needs are (both personal and professional) the more valuable a person I am to talk to? You should maintain a long list and be out there in the field with it fresh in your brain.

  • So while I’m interacting with somebody I’m running all of these potentials through my head. Does anything on my list meet this person’s needs or match their services? And does anything that they’re talking about meet any of my needs or match my services? The more things that match up the greater the chance that my connection with this person is valuable to both of us. Ideally I’m not just looking for a one-way transaction (where I just buy something from them or they just buy something from me.) I’m looking instead for an exchange (where we both meet each other’s needs and have the context for an extended relationship as a result.) Only with an exchange will we form a true bond and find allegiance with each other.

While this is a lot of explaining the actual interaction with your new networking partner should only be a couple of seconds long. Its rude to cut people off but its also rude and unproductive to go on and on with them. If you make a high value contact then make sure that you exchange contact information quickly and reassure them that you will call them so that you can both get together and discuss things further.

If, in the process of evaluating the situation, you come to the conclusion that there is little or nothing of value to be exchanged between you and this person then get out of it -but be nice. If the other party is as sophisticated as you are then they are running a similar database through their own head and coming to their own conclusions. Roll with it.

To review:

  • We have dispensed with promoting ourselves unless invited; our focus is on the person in front of us.
  • We have made eye contact and a friendly introduction (ideally with an exchange of business cards.)
  • We have engaged the other party with our interest in them and offered an enthusiastic synopsis of ourselves and our business when invited.
  • We have made ourselves available for any direction that the other party wants to go from there and we are actively interested in facilitating the other party’s immediate desire or need (to leave, stay, talk, not, whatever.)
  • While this interaction is taking place we are racking our brains to find something of mutual or complimentary interest to exchange.
  • The result of our brain-racking (hopefully) provides us with a sense of our value to our new partner and their value to us given the scope of our respective services and needs.
  • We have promised to take the initiative to make further connection with those parties that we deem to be of high value and we have politely withdrawn from those with whom we (or they) deem to have no mutual or complimentary interests to exchange.
  • We have been mindful of time and have allowed our new friend (and ourselves) to move on to the next interaction.

If you do this every time then you are a FLIPPIN’ ROCK STAR PEOPLE!

(And you’ll also be better than me!)

We’re human, man. This is the ideal and I’ve worked hard at practicing it and doing it right. You gotta keep at it, its how you pay the dues in this business. My National Sales Director paid just exactly (exactly!) these dues (and she’ll tell you all about it!) but the payoff is that she’s a millionaire today, really.

So get out there and get over being an idiot, you WILL get it right and it WILL PAY!

My friend, Joanne, puts it this way:

  • “Networking is all about relationship building.  Established relationships allow for trust to develop.  Once you have a contact’s trust, you will be rewarded with referrals and such.  So, the more you can make your contact’s life easier, i.e. refer them to various needed services, etc., the more they will view you as a’go-to’ individual.  The more they see you as a ‘go-to’ individual, the more they will trust you.  The more they trust you, the more willing they will be to recommend you to their friends and associates.  This will effectively make them a sales representative of your services—they will work to promote you.  Sometimes, most times, this requires a long-term relationship.  It does not mean that you speak with your contacts daily, but you should always maintain some regular contact with them—an occasional phone call, an occasional email, etc.”

Joanne Bowman of Bayside Accountancy

Joanne was gracious enough to review this article and help me with some of the copy for this post. This subject is such a critical piece for any direct marketer to understand and I had to be sure that my ideas would come across to the reader in an articulate manner. Joanne is an accomplished networker and I knew that I could count on her for wisdom as well as clarity in thought. So thank you Joanne!

-Love, Tony

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