Generate Leads With These 21st Century Networking Ideas

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Are you a networking dinosaur, still doing things like we did back in the 1990s?

Networking as it was back then has changed. If we’re still doing things the old way it can be incredibly frustrating when we go to a meeting or conference only to come home empty handed. But, when done right by today’s standards, it can be an incredibly productive way to build your business faster than you can imagine!

I used to share this only with my clients… but I’ve learned a number of things about this type of lead generation that I want to share with you.

So, just what is networking the “right” way?

Before we get started, let’s talk about mindset.

And this is a hugely important point…

When we are out networking in any situation, we must have a non-selling mindset.
Say what??? A non-selling mindset!

Now before you think of me as totally out of my mind and click off this post and go to the Club Med website to plan your next vacation… let me explain what I mean.

Generating leads through networking is totally about building relationships, not about making immediate sales!

In my webinars, I like to say… go to these types of events to make friends… the sales will come later. How do you do that? Here are some ways you can become a master at generating leads by networking.

Do 20% of the talking

First, back to the mindset thing… successful networking lead generators attend events with an eye towards being interested in others, rather than trying to make others interested in you. You’ve seen the opposite… those people who corner you and tell you all about the benefits of what they’re selling and why you should employ their services. And you can’t wait to get away from them.

So, what will we talk about if not about ourselves and your services?

We don’t talk about ourselves unless asked… we get the other people to talk about themselves by asking questions like these:

  • How they got started in their business or career or became interested in a particular topic
  • What’s their vision for the future of their business/health/fitness/leadership/etc. skills?
  • What do they see as the big challenges in doing that and how they see that happening or not happening for them
  • If they have a business are they looking for leads? If so be a matchmaker… who do you know who may be a potential client for them or recommend a resource?

When networking, we should only be talking 20% of the time and the new acquaintance talking 80% of the remaining time. I guarantee very few professionals are doing this. It will set you apart as someone to be remembered.

Seek out the right people… it might not be who you think!

When I first began going to association meetings and conferences, I was looking for prospective clients, fair enough, right? But, then I discovered that I could get three, four or even five referrals over time from referral partners. And that those leads became clients more often than others that I met individually.

Why? Because among most people looking for help, referrals are the top method they use to find professionals like you and me as opposed to someone they met for 5 minutes at a conference.

This is especially true for networking high-ranking corporate types and successful business owners. The rationale for this lies in the reason why people give referrals in the first place… not to help you, but to help the person to whom they are referring you!

Who are these potential referral partners?

Most important, they are not direct competitors but do share many of the same ideal clients. One of the best examples that I’ve used in my seminars and workshops is that of a wedding planner. Who is it who knows who the wedding planner’s ideal customer is before they do?

The answer is the jewelry store owner… because what’s the first thing that a couple does when they want to get married? They go buy a ring (or at least one of them does)! It would make sense then that it would be in the best interest of the wedding planner to work out some sort of arrangement with the jewelry store.

Here’s another example… an executive coach. An outplacement agency might know people who have severance packages that include funds for job improving their skills. Corporate headhunters might know people who are up-and-coming and intent on climbing the corporate ladder… good candidates for your services. Human Resource departments might be another.

Of course, most referral partners are not going to turn over their client list to you… a complete stranger! Again, this is where relationship building must occur first.

How can we build that relationship?

By doing something for them first… in line with our “give first, then get something later” mindset.

Back to the wedding planner… my favorite tactic for this is one I’ve successfully recommended to one of my own past clients. Offer to do a free workshop or webinar as a customer reward or PR event for their jewelry store. Something that their customers would find valuable and give the referral partner a chance to be face to face with their own clients.

The same idea can work in the corporate environment… like an executive skills or new manager workshop.

Finally, the older a lead gets the colder it gets. Networking prospects move on, lose interest or even worse… engage someone else. When I work with clients, I encourage them to follow up relentlessly, persistently, and systematically by either email or telephone. I suggest they start their day with scheduled follow up and outreach. Otherwise, your time spent is for naught! It doesn’t matter if you have never done this before.

Use these networking techniques the next time you have a chance… I’d love to hear about your successes! Email me at [email protected]

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