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Networking has gotten a bad name. Ever visit one of those networking events? You’re told, “Arrive with a pocketful of business cards and don’t leave until they’re all gone.”
Do you get so desperate to escape that you stuff the free gift box with a fistful of your cards and take off?
Myth #1: You must give your card to everyone in the room.
If people aren’t interested they won’t keep your card, let alone call you.
Reality: It is more important to get business cards than to hand yours out.
After you identify a prospect, ask for their card. Mark the ones that are important to you. When you have their card you control the contact. Add the names and contact information to your database and follow up.
Myth #2: Networking is selling.
The term network marketing confuses people. It is meant to. Network marketing, also known as MLM, or Multi-Level Marketing, generates sales through a vast layered network of product representatives. Each of these representatives is given incentive to recruit still more committed reps. MLM sales pitches can come across as vague and evasive.
Reality: Networking is marketing.
When you network you are building a network – hence the term – of people who know about you and your product. They might buy from you or help you. Networking is a long-term strategy, not a quick-sell scheme.
Myth # 3: Networking is telling your story
Watch out for Power Networkers who, full of bluster, talk at you. They condescend and announce, in effect, “You must be stupid not to buy my product. If you order now, you’ll get the network special discount.”
Reality: Networking is communicating.
Listen more than you talk. Remember the simple formula: two ears, one mouth. Use them in correct proportion. Get your message into a 30-second format. Open with a question, appeal to your listeners’ self-interest, and end with a call to action. Whey you talk, observe their interest level. When their eyes glaze over, it’s time to move along. Thank them and walk away. But if they show interest, ask them questions. “Do you see a way that this service might help you or someone you know?” Ask about their business, their most nagging problem, their greatest achievement, their next challenge, their best advice, or their newest idea. Listen to the answers. You will learn more by listening.
Myth # 4: Networking ends when you walk out the door.
Don’t make the mistake of breathing a sigh of relief as you walk out the door of the networking event and think, “Well that’s my networking done for another month.”
Reality: Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. Record the names in your database. When you walk out that door you begin the next stage of networking. Follow up with a phone call, an e-mail message, regular mail, or a meeting over coffee or lunch. Maintain your contacts.
Myth # 5: Send them information only about your products.
If all you do is mail brochures, then all you are doing is advertising. It’s okay to advertise, and a mailing is good; but a mailing list is not a network. If you want to build a relationship, you must send something that is of value to them.
Reality: A network is built by providing something of value.
The fuel that keeps your network alive is helpfulness. How do you help people? If you listen, you will discover their interests. Send them an article that might interest them, recommend a book, compliment them when they do something wonderful – or better still, give them a hot lead. It’s okay to send them your brochure, but do more than that. Most importantly, do things without expecting tit-for-tat. If you nurture your network and help others, eventually you will reap your rewards.
Remember the Bamboo
Networking is like planting bamboo. You seldom see immediate benefits. When you plant and cultivate bamboo, you do a lot of work over the first seven years, but see little growth. Bamboo only grows about 12 inches – in seven years! Then after the seventh year they shoot up to be six feet tall.
Imagine if bamboo farmers gave up in the seventh year – or before. Imagine if you cultivate your network and give up too soon. Networking is about systematically and patiently cultivating relationships to grow; it takes time.
©George Torok is co-author of the bestseller, “Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You”. He is author of the practical ebook, “Your Guide to Networking Success”. To order your copy of this networking guide or to learn more, visit http://www.NetworkingExposed.com. To receive your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” visit http://www.PowerMarketing.ca