A guide to effective networking
Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing and sharing a basic guide on Effective Networking that was developed by Steve Royal of Royal Associates.
His company provides a unique problem-solving process called “Prioritized Problem Resolution (PPR).” As experts in problem solving, the organization provides the process to the people who are experts in what they do. Together, problems are resolved in a way that they will never occur again – maybe we will see evidence of it in his guide!
Steve, why did you develop the Effective Networking Guide?
Having attended numerous networking events without much success in generating leads for my business, I used several ideas learned in a training course I attended in “non-traditional” sales techniques. I applied these techniques in the development of basic networking techniques.
The networking process which resulted is designed to be used if a person is truly serious about generating leads by networking with a group of people who he or she has never met. This process virtually guarantees success in providing appointments or other follow-up because the consultant (or anyone else) can help solve the prospect’s most serious problem.
What other kinds of situations can someone use this approach in?
This networking process can be modified to fit any situation if a desired outcome is specified ahead of time. The questions can be changed to lead the other person to express his or her need or want, after which the consultant can indicate that they will be able to help in attaining that result.
If someone just wants to chat with me what do I do?
If someone doesn’t want to give you an appointment, that’s fine. There are other acceptable options, such as setting a time to call or to ask the person what they think should happen next to resolve their problem. Or, you can excuse yourself and move on to the next prospect.
What do I do if someone just doesn’t want to give me an appointment?
If someone is very reluctant to give you an appointment, you can just tell the person that this is OK. You can also ask them when would be a good time to call, or ask them if they think it’s worth getting together with you at all. If not, excuse yourself and move on. You can also indicate that you’re glad it’s their problem and not yours, and wish them luck.
How can I move on gracefully to the next person?
Exiting a conversation gracefully is an easy three step process.
- Start with, “Thanks for talking with me.”
- Provide an urgent transition, such as, “I’ve got a call to make,” I am supposed to meet my wife,” “I’ve got an appointment,” etc.
- Suggest something as a follow up, such as, “Here’s my card, call me,” or, “If I run across anyone who needs the kind of services you offer, I’ll refer them to you,” or “I’ll catch you at the next networking event where we meet,” etc.
How many appointments should I get at an event? Do I go after quantity or quality?
If you have followed the networking process carefully and successfully, you will have found where the prospect’s real issues are, especially the one causing the most pain. If your business can truly help in relieving that pain and the prospect asks you to help them, go for it. That is a quality lead. Close on just a few of those and you’ll have plenty of work.
You could go on many appointments, but if none of them lead to work for you, it’s likely you haven’t perfected the networking process yet. The best thing to do is to keep networking and keep practicing until you improve the quality of your appointments.
Steve has generously agreed to share his effective networking process with us here today.
Effective Networking – A Basic Guide
©Steve Royal – Royal Associates 2011
You are at a networking function with a large group of people, most of whom you have never met.
Your goals are:
- To make as many appointments with prospective clients as possible or
- To make an appointment to call them or
- To identify the best possible way to contact them later.
The Reason to Attend a Networking Event:
People at this networking event are there for one reason—to meet other people and develop relationships that might lead to solving their problems.
Who Are All These People?
The people attending this event are all different. While many of them may all have the same objective, very few have the networking skills that you do.
Skills, What Skills?
You will know exactly what you are going to say when you meet somebody new.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
The only goal is to strive to set up an appointment—no more than that.
- DO NOT get into the details of your business!!! You will tell them what you do at the appointment.
- Find out what they need. Keep asking until you find some real PAIN.
- Prospects buy based on their emotions; then they justify it later.
- Your product knowledge is worthless if it doesn’t solve the prospect’s problem.
- Your presentation comes at the next interaction with the client, NOT at this networking event.
BASIC INTERACTION PROCESS
- Create Bonding and Rapport
- Find their PAIN
- Offer to Help
- Make an appointment
EXAMPLE (for a gathering of college students)
Your goal: To be in total control of the conversation at all times!
So, What Am I Going to Say?
Limit the small talk—it takes too much time and is not productive.
Create Bonding and Rapport
You: “Hi, how are you this morning/afternoon/evening?”
Prospect: “Fine, how about you?”
You: “I’m doing fine, also. What brings you to this gathering?”
Prospect: “I came for the presentation; I’m looking for learn something; to meet people; (or whatever).”
You: “Really, how interesting. Tell me, what are your specific interests at this meeting?”
Prospect: “I‘m interested in the (whatever) subject (+ blah, blah).
Find the Pain
You: “Very good! The fact that you’re here must mean that you’re looking for something. What is your biggest problem right now?
Prospect: “I need more sales, better marketing, (or whatever they say).
You: “Let me ask you a question, “What would you say if I told you that I am in a business that might be able to help you solve your problem?
Prospect (hopefully!): “Gee, I might be interested.”
You: “Tell me a more about your problem. (Wait for the answer). Then ask, “What have you done to deal with this problem so far?”
Prospect: “Nothing;” or I’m thinking about it,” or I don’t know what to do.”
You: “So it sounds like you could use some help?”
Prospect: “Absolutely,” or, “It might help,” or “Maybe”.
You: “So, you’d really like to solve this problem, RIGHT?”
Prospect: “Yes, I sure would.”
Offer to Help
You: “You know, I really think that I might be able to help you solve your problem. What do you think about that?”
Prospect: “That would be great. And just how could you do that?”
You: “Well, let’s just say that I have helped people with problems like yours in the past. This is probably the wrong place to discuss how I could help you, though. It might make sense for us to get together later to talk about it—what do you think?”
Prospect: “Why don’t you tell me what you do?”
Make an Appointment
You: “I could spend hours telling you what I do, but I think that your time would be better spent if I made sure that what I told you would be related to your needs.” How about if we get together later this week (or next week) to discuss how my company can help you solve your problem?
Do this NOW
- Make an appointment immediately (preferable) or
- Make an appointment to call the prospect to set up an appointment or
- Get his/her business card and ask what the best way would be for you to set up an appointment.
Follow up, follow up and follow up!
Steve and I will also be using the process at an upcoming Networking Program with the Rochester Professional Consultants Network on May 13, 2011. Join us – for more details and to sign up go to the RPCN website.