The ability to network is absolutely crucial in business nowadays, especially as completion grows and so many services become price driven commodities, businesses are looking to work on the basis of relationships as a unique selling point. This all starts with networking.
Marketing and Persuasion expert, Patrick Powers
Paul Harrison sat down with published author, founder of EntrepreneursInLondon.co.uk and Marketing and Persuasion expert, Patrick Powers to get his three best insights into elite networking.
Insight 1: Don’t sell your products, sell YOURSELF
Forget trying to pitch your products and instead focus on building trust and relationships.
Most people are so focused on selling their products that they completely forget the person in front of them. They are looking for the short term gain, but networking is a long term game. It’s like an never ending ultra marathon that keeps getting better and better the longer you run but as opposed to a real marathon, in networking you will not only get a prize at the finish line, you will get prizes all the time as long as you keep running.
Insight 2. Give away something of value
Once you have broken the ice and created a bit of a connection, you need to take them to the next level. Don’t wait for them to take action. Ask them if they would be interested in something suitable, something free for them. People love free things and that also gives you the “excuse” to follow up with them.
Insight 3. The gold is in the follow up
Since networking is all about building trust (and not selling) it takes time to reach a level where your efforts will bear fruit.
As a rule of thumb I would say that the second time they see you they will recognize you and the third time they will start to trust you. So if you don’t keep in touch, the initial effort is lost.
Never see your networking connections as potential buyers, see them as potential partners and referrers. If you build a real relationship and trust with them they could refer many buyers to you.
Q&A: Patrick Powers answers Isak’s questions on getting new clients.
UK-based South African, Isak Botma
Isak Botma is a UK-based South African who runs a website design business called pctank.co.uk and he wants to know more ways of generating new clients
How do you create a good “elevator pitch”?
Two words: “benefits” and “uniqueness”. Most people’s pitches are not only boring and similar to everyone else’s but they also don’t have any benefits to the listener, eg: “I’m an accountant”. That’s just a feature and people don’t buy features unless they understand the benefits of them.
Here is a “unique benefit pitch”: I’m an accountant that helps small businesses save tax in very unique and of course legal ways. That pitch stood out and had some unique benefits most small business people would be interested in.
So start by listing all the benefits of what you are doing. Then choose one or two of the most unique and powerful benefits and put them into your opening pitch.
How do you follow up effectively?
First of all connect with people in as many ways as possible. Make sure you find and connect with them on their preferred social network (LinkedIn, Facebook or twitter etc) within 24 hours.
Second, don’t try to sell, but rather start by delivering value that is relevant for them. For example free report, free trial, free consultation etc. Please understand that you have to prove your value to them before you ask anything from them.
What’s the best type of networking event?
It really depends on your industry and your personality – but what is most important is that you don’t run around to many different ones. Find a few that you like and then come back over and over. It’s not about how many people you know (at least initially) but the quality and strength of the relationships you build.